Catherine (Kate) Webster
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Irish born Catherine Webster made her living
as a servant and a criminal. She was
condemned for a very brutal axe murder that
she denied right up to the night before her
execution, when she finally confessed to the
prison chaplan.
On July 29, 1879 before 9 a.m. Kate was led
across the yard of the Wandsworth Prison
to the "Cold Meat Shed" - the separate
building for executions. Inside the shed the
british hangman William Marwood had
prepared a noose for the 30 years old
murderess.
Marwood had introduced the "long drop" a
few years earlier. His noose was made to
break Kate's neck, giving her a quick death.
The "long drop" was not perfected yet, the
drop was a bit too long maltreating her
slender neck more that necessarily
When Kate entered the "Cold Meat Shed" she faced
the large white painted gallows with the dangling
rope. She was led to stand on the trapdoor, and a
leather belt was mounted around her waist to
which her wrists was secured. Her ancles was
strapped together with a leather strap. While she
was strapped the noose was lying on the trapdoor
in front of her feet. The hangman ignored her
abusive though muffled outbursts while he expertly
placed the white hood and the noose over her head.
Kate spoke her last words:
"Lord, have mercy upon
me".
Kate plummeted some 8 feet into the pit below the
shed. Marwood could mentally congratulate
himself on the accuracy of his mathematics as she
dropped like a stone and died within seconds.
Kate was left hanging in the sheet for a full hour
while the sheet lived more and more up to it's name.