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A Date with the Hangman (Paperback)

A History of Capital Punishment in Britain

British History True Crime P&S History Social History

By Gary Dobbs
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 152
Illustrations: 15
ISBN: 9781526767400
Published: 17th June 2020

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It is a sobering thought that until the closing years of the twentieth century, Britain’s courts were technically able to impose the death penalty for a number of offences; both civil and military. Although the last judicial hangings took place in 1964, the death penalty, in theory at least, remained for a number of offences. During the twentieth century, 865 people were executed in Britain, and of those only 3 were ever posthumously pardoned. This book details each and every one of those executions, and in many cases highlights the crimes that brought these men and women to the gallows.

The book also details the various forms of capital punishment used throughout British history. During past centuries people were burned at the stake, had the skin flayed from their bodies, been beheaded, garrotted, hung, drawn and quartered, stoned, disemboweled, buried alive and all under the guidance of a vengeful law, or at least what passed for law at any given period. This book spares no detail in chronicling these events and the author has painstakingly collected together every available piece of evidence to provide as clear a picture as possible of a time when the law operated on the principle of an eye for an eye.

The author, Gary M. Dobbs, is a true-crime historian and has spent many hours researching the cases featured within these pages to bring the reader a definitive history of judicial punishment during the twentieth century, and this carefully researched, well-illustrated and enthralling text will appeal to anyone interested in the darker side of history.

This was a really interesting read, you could tell that Mr. Dobbs did his research and was able to write a book where you could stay interested in what you're reading.

NetGalley, Kay McLeer

Article: 'Hangman's noose cast shadow over British history' as featured by

South Wales Echo, 17th January 2020 – words by Brian Lee

The darker side of history has always held a particular fascination for me, and this fascinating account of the history of capital punichment in Great Britain makes for a brilliant read. I'm one of those people who believe we have the right to dispose of the very worst murderers and terrorists who act against our society and thus forego any rights or privileges they may have once had, otherwise there is no deterrent. Gary Dobbs's book is a treasure trove of information on what used to happen. First class, informative and very readable.

Books Monthly

As featured by

Inside History magazine, 19th January 2020

A great look into history and capital punishment. I didn’t realize that beheading was “reserved” for nobility. Or how many botched beheadings there actually were. A quick look at other forms of death were shown. It gives a brief history of those found guilty of crimes and the method of their penalty/death.

NetGalley, Julie Rhinehart

Whatever side of the Capital Punishment debate the reader may be on, this is a comprehensive book on all the death penalty cases in 20th Century Britain. In fact, there is a complete list of all the killers, the victims, the date of their sentence and the hangman who was in charge. There is very little additional information except in the cases that either had extreme notoriety or great public awareness. These include the three cases where the deceased was exonerated posthumously. It is therein that the argument against capital punishment gained great traction. It is all very nice to be found innocent but rather empty once you are gone.
At one time there were a myriad of charges that were capital offences. It is a fascinating look at the history of “justice” through the centuries. Thankfully by the dawn of the 20th Century there were but a few charges that could bring such retribution. Perhaps in today’s world with DNA testing, mistakes might be few and far between but there were many situations where the outcomes were less than universally applauded. In fact by 1964, it was over even though the legislation to confirm it was decades later.
For fans of true crime stories, this will be fascinating reading. Four purrs and two paws up.

NetGalley, Susan Johnston

This is a comprehensive book about capital punishment in England.

NetGalley, Janette Forman

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

As I am a writer of Victorian true-crime 'Bloody Yorkshire'. I found this book both accurate and fascinating. I am happy to have it in my collection.

NetGalley, Wendy M Rhodes

Article 'Stories of the hangmen' as featured by

Telegraph & Argus, 30th November 2019

A very exciting book that will lead you to learn about characters, stories and events concerning the death penalty.

Read the full Italian review here

Old Barbed Wire Blog

Very interesting.

NetGalley, Tammy Buchli

This book looks at the history behind hanging. It gives us the dates and names of all the people who were hanged and the name of the hangman. It also tells you the crimes that were committed. It also covers the different methods used to execute the condemned. If your a fan of historical true crime, you will like this informative but quick read.

NetGalley, Louise Wilson

A Date with the Hangman is an interesting although short book.

I enjoyed reading more about Capital Punishment and the history of it and when it ended. It was very sobering reading the lists of the names of who was hung in the 20th Century and for which offences with where to execution took place and which Hangman if any (there was still Military shooting for Treason at the Tower Of London!!) . With some of the more famous criminals comes a short explanation of their crime. Others have a further reading note too if you wanted to follow up on them.

I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to true crime fans.

NetGalley, Hazel Thomson

If are looking for a quick reference book this is definitely one you could choose.

NetGalley, S Ballinger

A nice start for a brief history of punishment in British history. Nice that it gives dates and names of those who were executed and names of the hangmen if doing research on the topic. Many names, dates, what they did and so on. A balance of that and history.

NetGalley, Alexandra Roth

This is a history of capital punishment in Britain and it’s got some interesting facts and details from the past. It covers all the different methods used to execute condemned people through the centuries. It also discusses the executioners, and has a section listing people that were hung between 1900, their executioner, through abolition in 1964. I found it interesting and informative, I like reading about this type of thing and if it’s something that you enjoy also, you might want to check it out too. The death penalty is often a hot topic in our country too, as so many people here feel it’s not a deterrent as well. But there are still many who are wanting to keep it as well, and the debate goes on.

NetGalley, Valerie Shampine

I really enjoyed this book and read it over a few days when I was away on holiday this year, it was a book that I was easily able to dip in and out of due to the layout and way that the book was written.

I really like the start of the book and the background that is given and I liked the way that the author expanded on some of the more notable cases of execution too – there were some well-known cases and some that made me want to find out more too – including a couple from my home county and home town!

I love books of this nature and I am a massive fan on true crime, the writing style was good and it was an easy read too, despite the subject matter!

It is 4 stars from me for this one - highly recommended and a great record of past executions and the role of the hangman, and a great introduction to some of the different characters that held that position over the years too!

NetGalley, Donna Maguire

I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in true crime and/or history. It makes for a highly disturbing read, but it's well researched and gives a thorough account of some of the most famous (as well as some less well known) criminals to have been hanged throughout history. Very interesting, if a little morbid!

NetGalley, Amelia Louise

If you enjoy well written literature, with good prose, and produced in an uncomplicated but concise manner from an author who researched his subject, A Date With The Hangman is a book you may enjoy.

NetGalley, Nemo Nemo

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is the creepiest book I have ever read.

Although this focuses on historical events, the writing is not boring at all and the theme and the book itself are extremely interesting.

This is a quick read because most of the book is a list of the executions during the XX century in the UK and there is nothing scarier than reading names upon names of murderers and victims when you are home alone at night. The only thing I wish the book had had was the age of the victims as well.

Even the handful of pictures at the end will give me nightmares.

(I seriously liked this book though. It was super informative and the writing was the perfect blend of facts and trivia.)

NetGalley, Lucs Books
 Gary Dobbs

About Gary Dobbs

Welsh author Gary Dobbs is best known as a fiction writer. Using the pen name Jack Martin, he is responsible for a string of best-selling westerns as well as the popular crime series, Granny Smith. The latter published under his own name.

Cardiff and the Valleys in the Great War is his first major non-fiction work and he felt both humbled and proud to tackle the project. Hours of research were involved in compiling the stories presented within these pages, and alongside the grim statistics the author feels that there is a very human story that he was deeply privileged to tell.

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