Grim reading: executioner's letter


A LETTER from a member of Britain’s most famous family of executioners offering his services to hang a man found guilty of murder in Cork was sold at auction yesterday for €1,250.

The letter will remain in Cork, though the identity of the buyer remains a mystery. The letter, dated March 22nd, 1903, was purchased in trust by a local auctioneer.

The letter from Henry A Pierrepoint to the “Under Sheriff” of Cork is in relation to the case of Andrew Moore, a sextant at Christ Church, Kilmeen, who was charged with the murder of former rector, Rev William Bell.

Pierrepoint outlined his experience as principal executioner at various prisons across Britain including Holloway and Pentonville and made assurances that “Governor of HM Prison Manchester will be pleased to recommend me”.

Henry A Pierrepoint was the first executioner in his family. Henry, his brother Thomas and son Albert took part in an estimated 800 executions.

He became an executioner in 1901 but was sacked in 1910 due to concerns about the impact of drinking on his work.

He became an executioner at the age of 27 after writing numerous letters to the home secretary expressing his ambition.

Pierrepoint was trained at London’s Newgate Prison and eventually became principal executioner.