Execution survivors: a list in progress
(excluding those rescued from prison, on the way to the gallows, or at the gallows itself, or cases where there was deliberate botching of the execution)
|1234||Walter de Pyonne||Close Rolls 1234-7 p.6||Homicide||‘Found to be alive when about to be taken for burial.’||Allowed to stay in the realm in safety, because he was saved ‘per divinam clementiam’|
|1247||Maud, widow of Roger de Norhamton||CPR 1232-47 p. 503.||Trespasses and felonies: sentenced by eyre of Oxfordshire 1247.||‘hanged, and afterwards escaped alive.’||Pardoned.|
|1248||Miles de Longeham||CPR 1247-58 p. 12.
|Not stated||‘was lately hanged at Colechester, and afterwards escaped alive’||Grant ‘of the king’s peace and licence to stay in the realm, on condition of his good behaviour’.|
|1264||Juetta de Balsham||CPR 1258-66 p. 342.
|Receiving of thieves||Hanged from 9th hour Monday until sunrise Tuesday. Escaped alive.||Pardon for the receiving.|
|1276||Adam le Messer||CPR 1272-81 p. 175.||Theft||Chaotic lack of co-operation between secular and ecclesiastical authorities; thieves hanged, found ‘strewn on the ground’, thought dead and steps taken to bury them. Adam revives in grave, gets to church and abjures.||Help for the ecclesiastical servants involved in the debacle.
|1279||Philip son of Adam le Lechur, of Botteworth||CPR 1272-81 p. 327.||Larceny of three pigs||‘by the breaking of the rope escaped alive, fled for refuge to a church and afterwards abjured the realm’||Pardoned his abjuration.|
|1280||John Ellenstreng||CPR 1272-81 p. 396.||Larcenies||Found to be alive after he was carried to church of St James, York, for burial.||Information from Yorkshire eyre JJ. This is a pardon.|
|1284||Margaret, widow of Alan Everard of Burgh by Weynflet, Lincolnshire||CPR 1281-92 p. 113; Summerson, 130.
|Harbouring a thief: Robert her son. Condemned at last eyre.||‘hanged … but being cut down and removed for burial … was seen to draw a breath and revive’.||Pardoned ‘because her recovery is ascribed to a miracle, and she has lived two years and more in [a leper] hospital’|
|1285||Walter Eyghe||CPR 1281-92 p. 155; Summerson, p. 130; JUST 1/579 mm. 71, 71d.||Larceny, condemned by king’s court||revived on being taken down from the gallows||Pardon.|
|1293||Hamo Prat of Wyngham||CPR 1292-1301 p. 147.||Larceny||‘when he was taken down from the gallows for dead’, carried to church, ‘afterwards found there alive’||Pardoned the larceny|
|1298||William le Fovre of Haydenbrigg||CPR 1292-1301 p. 374.||Robberies &c.||Hanged. Then ‘was taken down for dead, and removed for burial to the church of St. James by Newcastle-on-Tyne, where he was found to be alive’.||Pardon ‘for the honour of God and out of reverence for St. James’|
|1310||Thomas Elcot of Hexham, of Yorkshire,||SC 1/30/43||Not specified||’found to be alive after hanging’||Petition to Piers Gaveston, requesting pardon.|
|1332||John de la Lynde||CPR 1330-34 p. 308.||Not specified||Hanged for long period, removed by friends. Revived. Now in sanctuary.||This is a pardon for one of the friends who took him down (for burial, so he says).|
|1334||Felicia de Whichull||CPR 1334-8 p. 5.||Receiving named male felon. Sentenced by Staffs gaol delivery.||‘hanged for a long time but was not yet dead, the rope broke, without the help of man or fraud, as the sheriff of Stafford has certified at the king’s command.’||Pardoned, the king being ‘moved by pity’.|
|1348||William Prest of Somercotes||CPR 1348-50 p. 96.||Convicted before bishop of Lincoln’s bailiffs: house breaking and carrying off goods.||Hanged, ‘ afterwards as a dead body was cut down from the gallows and carried the church of St. Erefrida, Louth, to be there handed over for burial … and whereas after lying for a long time in the churchyard.. before burial … miraculously came to life again.’||Pardon: because it has been testified before [the King] that … William was not guilty …, ‘willing to shew special favour to him in respect of the incomplete execution of judgement’.|
|1349||Geoffrey Cokerel||CPR 1348-50 p. 271.
|Approver. Had accused men of larcenies, but they were acquitted, at gaol delivery at Ockham.||Hanged. Body ‘flung down’ and carried to church for burial. ‘he miraculously, as is said, revived and has stayed until now in the said church’.||Pardoned.|
|1363||Adam Trop||CPR 1361-4 p. 430.
|Felony||Hanged, cut down by friends but left for burial. Revived. Broke church doors. Ran off. Recaptured. Hanged.||Dublin|
|1365||Walter Poynant of Hamelden||CPR 1364-7 p. 60.
|Robbery||Hanged. ‘when it was thought that he would be dead, for certain, the rope round his neck had been cut and his body put into a cart to be brought to the cemetery for burial, the body regained its former virtue and revived and so Walter is alive’||‘Wishing to shew special grace to him who in such a wonderful way by divine grace has come to life again, the king has pardoned him the execution of the said judgement.’
Also pardoned of various other livestock thefts.
Summerson = H. Summerson, ‘Attitudes to capital punishment in England 1200-1350’, in M. Prestwich, R. Britnell and R. Frame (eds), Thirteenth Century England VIII (Woodbridge, 2001), 123-34.
(See also cases of hanging taking a long time – the victim was still alive after a whole night in SC 8/50/2496 of c. 1305).