From the Lowly Hougher to the Professional Neck Stretcher: A Short History of Hangmen in the North East. Part 1

One of the first things you discover when looking at executions prior to the mid nineteenth century is just how widely disliked hangmen were. In his study of punishment and the ‘evolution of repression’, Pieter Spiereneburg noted a remarkably widespread societal hatred towards the hangman across Western Europe.[1] This often extended to both physical and social ostracization, with hangmen commonly living without the city walls or in what one study has marked as ‘dishonourable urban spaces.’