John Berry was born in Blanket Hall Street (the way down to Morrisons) in 1852. Though the bulk of the book is about his career as the Nations Public Executioner or “Hangman”, the bits that I found most interesting was about growing up in Heckmondwike, his early career choices and his life after retirement when he campaigned against Capital Punishment.
The book plots his career and the innovations he made to his “trade” detailing some of his more famous executions. I know the subject is gruesome, but if you are a serious scholar of Spen Valley History a copy is essential for your collection.
Just as an aside, what is it that attracts Yorkshiremen to this profession, not counting the failed drunk from Dewsbury?
Executioner The Chronicles of James Berry – Victorian Hangmen by Stuart P Evans
Published by Sutton Publishing in 2004, 356 pages indexed and illustrated I can despatch (no pun intended) a hardback copy to a UK address for
Executioner The Chronicles of James Berry – Victorian Hangmen by Stuart P Evans – Paperback
The paperback is large scale (essentially the same book as the hard back but with card covers.