Amazing True Stories of Execution Blunde by Geoffrey Abbott, G. (Geoffrey) Abbott, Jeremy Beadle

By Geoffrey Abbott, G. (Geoffrey) Abbott, Jeremy Beadle

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One hopes that he could see without the need for spectacles or pince-nez. Far from being cowed into submission, the now no longer good-looking author proceeded to publish pamphlets criticising the bishops, hardly a wise move, for once again he was brought to trial. In court a member of the bench ordered the usher to expose the prisoner’s scars. The official did so, pushing back Prynne’s flowing locks to reveal a stub of gristle protruding from one side of his head. ’ Determined to deprive him of what little remained of his sole surviving aural organ, the court sentenced him to lose the stub, to be branded and imprisoned for life – and to be fined another £5,000.

However, another custom required that the executioner be paid. Balmerino apologised and, giving him three guineas, said, ‘Friend, I never had much money. This is all I have – I wish it were more for your sake. ’ Taking the garments off, he laid them on the coffin and, calling for the yeoman warder who had been his guardian and companion while he had been imprisoned in the Tower, he gave the man his periwig, replacing it with a nightcap of Scotch plaid, then took the axe from Thrift and, after feeling the edge, returned it to the executioner before finally approaching the block.

Instead Jeanne de la Motte sold some of the gems, her husband taking the remaining stones to England, where he promptly disposed of 300 of them for £14,000: a veritable fortune in those days. indd 60 12/04/2006 14:48:35 BRANDING The jewellers, having received no payment, complained to the palace and enquiries were begun, with the result that all involved, including Jeanne, the forger Villette, and the Cardinal were put on trial. The latter dignitary was cleared of all blame but Villette was sentenced to be banished from the kingdom.

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