Mary Blandy
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Mary Blandy was a quite respectable
woman of good family. Her figure
was fine and her brilliant black eyes
and abundant hair redeemed a face
otherwise rather ordinary.
Her vivacity, wit, and good nature
were such as to win for her an
immediate social success. She is
even said to have had the honour of
dancing with the Prince of Wales.
Her father was known to be quite
wealthy, and Mary was indeed
considered a "catch".
Unfortunately for her none of her
boyfriends were acceptable for her
father. Becoming a spinster, she and
her boyfriend finally poisoned her
father with arsenic. Her plan was to
inherite his fortune, and be able to
marry, but instead the sentence of
the law upon her was:
"That you are to be carried to the
place of execution and there hanged
by the neck until you are dead."
The 31 years old woman received
her verdict asking to be allowed a
little time to settle her affairs, which
was granted. She left the hall to be
taken back to prison.
"She stepped
into the Coach with as little Concern
as if she had been going to a Ball".
One month later, on Monday, the 6th of April 1752 Mary Blandy was hanged outside Oxford Castle.
About ten o'clock on Sunday night when Mary was informed that the Sheriff had come to town, she sent
a messenger to him, to request that she might not be disturbed till right in the morning, and that as soon
after as he pleased she would be ready for the great task she had to undergo.
The night before her execution, she spent most of her time in prayers. She went to bed about the usual
hour, and had little rest in the fore part of the night, but was at prayers in bed between three and four
o'clock; after ending of which, she got up and dressed herself; and some time after this, went up into the
upper rooms of the house to look upon the gallows, which is opposite the door of the goal, and made by
laying a poll across upon the arms of two trees, when she observed that it was very high.
Some days before her execution, she had said that she was afraid the sudden shock of seeing the gallows
might be too much for her to withstand, and that her spirits might fail her, unless she had an opportunity
of seeing it beforehand.
About half an hour after eight, the Sheriff went to the Goal, and after half an hours private prayers with
the clergyman, she came down into the Goal yard, where the Sheriff's men were, and held two guineas
in her hands for the executioner, which she took with her to the fatal tree.
She went out of the Castle about nine o'clock, dressed in a black crape sack, with her arms and hands
tied with black paduasoy ribbons, and her whole dress extremely neat; her countenance was solemn, and
her behaviour well suited to her deplorable circumstances; but she bore up under her misfortunes with
amazing fortitude.
When she came to the gallows she begged the prayers of all the spectators, and declared herself guilty of
administering the powder to her father, but without knowing that it had the least poisonous quality in it,
or intending to do him any injury. There was not a large concourse of people at the execution.
As she ascended the ladder, after she had got up about five steps, she said, "Gentlemen, do not hang me
high, for the sake of decency;" and then being desired to step up a little higher, she did two stops, and
then turning herself about, she trembled, and said, "I am afraid I shall fall." After this, the halter was put
about her neck, and she pulled down her handkerchief over her face, without shedding one tear all the
time. In this manner she prayed a little while upon the ladder, then gave the signal, by holding out a little
book which she had in her hands.
After hanging above half an hour the Sheriff gave orders for her being cut down. Thus far the utmost
decorum was observed, but for want of some proper person to take care of her body, this melancholy
scene became still more shocking to human nature. Upon being cut down she was carried through the
crowd upon the shoulders of one of the Sheriff's men in the most beastly manner, with her legs exposed
very indecently for several hundred yards, and then deposited in the Sheriff's man's house, until about
half an hour past five o'clock, when the body was put in a hearse, and carried to Henley, where she was
interred about one o'clock the next morning in the church, between her father and mother.
Mary Blandy was seemingly lifeless as soon as she had been "turned off" the ladder