1893 text

General Thomas Harrison, son of a butcher at Newcastle-under-Lyme, appointed by Cromwell to convey Charles I. from Windsor to Whitehall, in order to his trial. He signed the warrant for the execution of the King. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered on the 13th.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

5 Annotations

Glyn  •  Link

Two accounts of his speech and actions on the day of his execution on 13 October 1660:

"...God hath covered my head many times in the day of Battle. By God I have leaped over a wall, by God I have runned through a Troop, and by my God I will go through this death..."

'Next to the sufferings of Christ', he claimed, 'I go to suffer in the most glorious cause that ever was in the world'. And one, as he passed by, asking him in derision where the good old cause was, he with a cheerful smile clapped his hand on his breast and said, Here it is, and I go to seal it with my blood.'

Kevin Peter  •  Link

Harrison's death was recorded to be particularly gruesome.

The punishment of hanging, drawing, and quartering involved drawing a condemned man behind a horse through the streets tied to a hurdle, which is a fence-like mesh of branches (much earlier, the hurdle was not used and the condemned was simply dragged behind a horse).

The condemned man would then be hung, the executioner making sure that he didn't have a long drop, so that his neck didn't break. After the condemned man was in agony for a while, the executioner would cut him down before the condemned lost consciousness.

While the condemned man was still conscious the executioner would cut off the man's penis and testicles and then open him up and start removing the internal organs. The condemned man would of course die during the removal of the organs.

Quartering would involved cutting up the man into pieces after his death, and the pieces would usually be publically displayed as a warning.

As you can see, this was a most painful and gruesome way to die.

Usually, by the 17th century, the executioner was lenient and let the condemned die during hanging before they started ripping the condemned man's internal organs out, but Harrison apparently had no such luck.

Bill  •  Link

Thomas Harrison, son of a butcher at Newcastle-under-Line, appointed by Cromwell to convey Charles I. from Windsor to White Hall, in order to his trial. He signed the warrant for the execution of the King.
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Bill  •  Link

And the question being asked, If he [Harrison] had any thing to say why judgment should not pass? he only said, That, since the court had refused to hear what was fit for him to speak in his defence, he had no more to say. Upon which Bridgman pronounced the sentence. And, that the inhumanity of these men may the better appear, I must not omit, that the executioner, in an ugly dress, with a halter in his hand, was placed near the Major-General, and continued there during the whole time of his trial. Which action I doubt whether it was ever equalled by the most barbarous nations. But having learned to contemn such baseness, after the sentence had been pronounced against him, he said aloud, as he was withdrawing from the court, that he had no reason to be ashamed of the cause in which he had been engaged. This sentence was so barbarously executed, that he was cut down alive, and saw his bowels thrown into the fire.
---Memoirs of Edmund Ludlow, Esq. E. Ludlow, 1751

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.