The execution of James Cook.
As many as forty thousand people crowded Welford Road Prison to witness the execution, and James Cook went to his death without a qualm, merely asking that a sermon should be preached in St. Mary’s Church on the following Sunday.
Judges 29-30: And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces.
James Cook was executed on Friday 10 August 1832 in front of the prison. Following his execution it was noted: “The head was shaved and tarred, to preserve it from the action of the weather, and the cap in which he had suffered was drawn over his face. On Saturday afternoon his body, attired as at the time of his execution, having been firmly fixed in the irons necessary to keep the limbs together, was carried to the place of its intended suspension.”
A gibbet, thirty-three feet high, was constructed on a piece of wasteland on the side of the road leading to Countesthorpe (now Saffron Lane).
On this, the body, fully clad, was suspended in the iron frame. Twenty thousand people witnessed this exhibition.
After three days, enlightened residents, moved by the barbarity of the spectacle, and anxious also about the possibility of infection, persuaded the authorities to remove the body,
By the end of the year the cruel law of 1752, which had enjoined the sentence, had been repealed.