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The story of the last person to be publicly executed in Nottingham

Back in the 1800s treason, murder, and rape were three serious crimes that could see an individual publicly executed for their wrongdoing.

The 19th century saw many capital punishments such as these take place, including the last to take place in Nottingham way back in 1864.

Information from the National Justice Museum, which is located where many executions once took place, reveals the last person to face their end by hanging in public was Richard Thomas Parker.

The 29-year-old was sentenced to death at the former County Gaol on High Pavement for the wilful murder of his mother 14 years before the prison closed.



County Gaol, Shire Hall, from Cliff Road, Lace Market, Nottingham, 1963. Showing cell windows from Cliff Road.
County Gaol, Shire Hall, from Cliff Road, Lace Market, Nottingham, 1963. Showing cell windows from Cliff Road.

Richard Thomas Parker was the only son born out of the second marriage of his mother – Elizabeth Parker.

According to records held by the National Justice Museum and shared with Nottinghamshire Live, Parker was initially apprenticed to Mr Bee the Butcher of Sneinton Street in Nottingham.

When his apprenticeship finished, he set up in business in Fiskerton where he worked as a butcher. He was publicly declared bankrupt in November 1862.

He attended a cricket match at Newark, where he indulged in too much drink. Upon returning to the family home he had a violent drunken argument with his father, Samuel Parker, who promptly left the house.

Samuel’s wife, Elizabeth, rushed out of the house to warn her husband that “Tom’s got a gun”.

Firing from the window of the house, Parker shot his father and his mother. Samuel Parker recovered from his wounds, but his wife did not. She died on May 16, 1864.

Parker was tried at the courts at Shire Hall on Monday, July 25, 1864, by Mr Justice Blackburn.



An execution at Shire Hall
An execution at Shire Hall

He was executed outside the County Gaol at 8am on Wednesday August 10, 1864.

The executioner was Mr. Asken.

A large crowd of approximately 10,000 gathered in High Pavement to watch the execution.

The scaffold was surrounded by four feet high boarding to prevent the public from seeing the prisoner after the drop. His body was buried within the prison exercise yard.

That was the last public execution in Nottingham.

The gruesome spectacle of an execution was abolished in 1868

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Following this, executions in private continued for nearly a century and the last executions in the UK were by hanging, and took place in 1964.

That was before capital punishment was suspended for murder in 1965 and finally abolished for murder in 1969.

Two offences – treason and piracy with violence – did nominally retain the death penalty for almost another 30 years, but this ended in 1998

In Nottingham, executions took place at a number of different locations.

The last hanging at Gallows Hill – at the top of Mansfield Road – was in 1820, of Thomas Wilcox for highway robbery.

Public executions then moved to the House of Correction, near the present-day Pryzm; and also to County Hall, also known as Shire Hall, in High Pavement.



The Lantern Pike in Little Hayfield; formerly the New Inn where George Hayward murdered Amy Collinson
The Lantern Pike in Little Hayfield; formerly the New Inn where George Hayward murdered Amy Collinson

The last private execution in Nottingham was that of George Hayward in 1928.

The last execution in Nottingham was that of George Frederick Hayward (spelt Haywood by some sources) for the murder of Derbyshire woman Amy Collinson.

Amy, 36, was the wife of Arthur Collinson, who was the licensee of the New Inn pub in Little Hayfield, the Peak District.

On November 11, 1927, Hayward – who also lived in the village – murdered 36-year-old Amy by cutting her throat at the pub.

He had attacked her from behind when she was cleaning the fire grate, and escaped with around £40.

The 32-year-old was hanged at 8am on April 10, 1928, by famous Nottinghamshire hangman Thomas Pierrepont, and with a crowd of around 200 outside the prison gates.

The hanging facilities at the gaol were later closed. The New Inn is now the Lantern Pike pub.