In the shadow of the Lucy Tower of Lincoln Castle – site of the city’s Georgian and Victorian prisons – is what looks like a peaceful garden. Enclosed by medieval walls, with several trees casting shade over the grass, it is a peaceful environment.
Yet look closer, and you’ll see several small stone markers dotted around. Some are bare, their inscriptions having never existed, or being erased by the wind and rain over time. Others are still clear, though; initials, and a date. For this is the final resting place of many of the criminals who were hanged at the castle in the 19th century.
One of the most clear stones records the initials WFH, and marks the grave of William Frederick Horry. Fred Horry was a nasty character, who has gone down in history as the first person to be hanged by Victorian executioner William Marwood.
Born in 1843 in Boston, Lincolnshire, he was married at the age of 23 to Jane, but the marriage was not happy. They ran a Staffordshire hotel together, but within five years of the marriage, they had separated amidst allegations of alcoholism (on Fred’s part) and adultery (on Jane’s part).
Jane returned to Boston with their children, whilst William stayed in Staffordshire. He tried to see his family, but was abusive, and forbidden from seeing his children. He sold the hotel, moved to Nottingham, and kept trying to see his family.
After one final attempt in 1872, when he was again refused, he bought a revolver in Nottingham, and then travelled to Boston.
He made his way to his father’s house, where his family were staying, and, at 3pm, as Jane walked into the dining room, he raised the revolver and shot her dead.
At the Spring Assizes on 11 March 1872, held at Lincoln, he was sentenced to death. On 1 April, he was executed at the castle by William Marwood, using, for the first time, the new ‘long drop’ method of hanging that was seen as more civilised, as it resulted in a quicker death.
Horry may have died quickly, but he lives on, part of the tourist trail at Lincoln Castle, and remembered in the history of the famous executioner.Tweet