Page last updated at 01:36 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Pierrepoint hanging log auctioned

Henry Pierrepoint's execution diary
The log contains remarks about the strength of prisoners' necks

The execution diary of one of the UK's best known hangmen offers hints at the slide into drinking which ended his career in 1910, auctioneers say.

Henry Albert Pierrepoint was sacked for arriving for an execution "considerably the worse for drink" and fighting with his assistant, John Ellis.

The erratic handwritten entries in his log towards the end of his career are said to be evidence of this drinking.

It is expected to fetch up to 3,000 at auction in Knutsford, Cheshire.

Henry, originally from Nottingham, was the first of the Pierrepoint family to become an executioner when he started his career in 1901 - he was involved in 105 hangings.

He took great pride in his work, was known to calculate his drops carefully and is said to have never "bungled" an execution, said auction house Frank Marshall and Company.

Henry Pierrepoint's tape
Pierrepoint was known to take pride in his work

The names of all those prisoners he executed are contained in his log, along with their age, height, weight and remarks regarding the strength of their neck.

The pocket diary is being sold as part of a collection which also includes his hangman's tape measure and letters to his son Albert Pierrepoint, the UK's most prolific executioner.

Henry Pierrepoint's drinking only came to light in 2001 through documents released at the Public Record Office.

He was removed from the list of approved executioners and Home Office officials wrote that he should "never be employed again".

Henry Pierrepoint's brother, Thomas, also became an executioner having been given training by his sibling.

Together the three members of the Pierrepoint family are believed to have carried out more than 800 executions in the UK.

The documents are going on sale on Tuesday alongside a similar log compiled by Harry Allen, one of the UK's last official executioners, which is expected to fetch up to 5,000.

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