Execution survivors: a list in progress

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)

Date Name Reference Offence How survived Remarks
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).