20th June

Born: Dr. George Hickes, Dean of Worcester (nonjurant. bishop of Thetford), learned theologian and controversialist, 1642, Newsham, Yorkshire: Dr. Adam Ferguson, historian, 1723, Logierait, Perthshire: Theophilus Lindsey, Unitarian divine, 1723, Middlewick; Anna Letitia Aiken (Mrs Barbauld), 1743, Kibworth.

Died: William Cavendish, second Earl of Devonshire, 1628, Derby; Henrietta Stuart, Duchess of Orleans, 1670, St. Cloud; Charles Coffin, French poet, 7749: Charles Frederick Abel, musical composer, 1787, Anna Maria Porter, novelist, 1832: William IV, King of Great Britain, 1837, Windsor.

Feast Day: St. Silverius, pope and martyr, 538. St. Gobain, priest and martyr, 7th century. St. Idaberga, or Edburge, of Mercia, virgin, about 7th century. St. Bain, Bishop of Terouanne, or St. Omer, about 711.


In the Middle Ages it sometimes happened that, from miracles wrought at the tomb of some holy person, he had a posthumous increase of reputation, making it necessary or proper that his remains should be deposited in some more honourable or convenient place. Then was effected what was called a translation of his body, usually a ceremony of an impressive character, and which it consequently became necessary to celebrate by an anniversary. Thus it happens that some saints enjoy a double distinction in the calendar: one day to commemorate their martyrdom or natural death, another to keep in memory the translation of their bodies.

The unfortunate young Saxon King Edward, a victim to maternal jealousy, has a place in the calendar (March 18), on account of his tragical end. The removal of his body from its original tomb at Wareham, to Salisbury Cathedral, three years after his decease, was commemorated on another day (June 20th), being that on which the translation was performed (anno 982). It was probably rather from a feeling for the early and cruel death of this young sovereign, than from any reverence for his assumed sanctity, that The Translation of King Edward was allowed to maintain its place in the reformed Church of England calendar.


On the 20th of June 1649 there died, in his own house at Rosemary Lane, Richard Brandon, the official executioner for the City of London, and the man who, as is generally supposed, decapitated Charles the First. A rare tract, published at the time, entitled The Confession of the Hangman, states that Brandon acknowledged he had £30 for his pains, all paid him in half-crowns, within an hour after the blow was given: and that he had an orange stuck full of cloves, and a handkerchief out of the king's pocket, so soon as he was carried off from the scaffold, for which orange he was proffered twenty shillings by a gentleman in White Hall, but refused the same, and afterwards sold it for ten shillings in Rosemary Lane. The tract further informs us that the sheriffs of the City 'sent great store of wine for the funeral, and a multitude of people stood waiting to see his corpse carried to the churchyard, some crying out, 'Hang him, the rogue! Bury him in a dunghill:' others pressing upon him, saying they would quarter him for executing the king. Insomuch that the church-wardens and masters of the parish were fain to come for the suppression of them, and with great difficulty he was at last carried to White-chapel churchyard, having a bunch of rosemary at each end of his coffin, on the top thereof, with a rope tied across from one end to the other.' In the Burial Register of Whitechapel there is the following entry under 1649: 'June 21st, Richard Brandon, a man out of Rosemary Lane. This R. Brandon is supposed to have cut off the head of Charles the First.'

A broadside, published about the same time, is entitled, A Dialogue between the Hangman and Death, from which the following passages may be quoted as specimens of the whole

Death-Lay specimens down thy axe, and cast thy ropes away,
'Tis I command, 'tis thou that must obey :
Thy part is played, and thou goest off the stage,
The bloodiest actor in this present age.
Brandeis. -But, Death, thou know'st that I for many years
As by old Tyburn's records it appears
Have monthly paid my taxes unto thee,
Tied up in twisted hemp for more security:
And now, of late, I think thou didst put me to it,
When none but Brandon could be found to do it:
I gave the blow caused thousands' hearts to ache-
Nay, more than that, it made three kingdoms quake.
Yet, in obedience to thy powerful call,
Down went the cedar with some shrubs, and all
To satisfy thy ne'er contented lust;
Now, for reward, thou tellest me that I must
Lay down my tools, and with thee pack from hence-
Grim sir, you give a fearful recompense

The executioner, however, must submit to the 'hangman of creation:' and the author, at the end of the dialogue, thus gives his epitaph :

Who do you think lies buried here?
One that did help to make hemp clear.
The poorest subject did abhor him,
And yet his king did kneel before him:
He wonld his master not betray,
Yet he his master did destroy.
And yet as Judas-in records 'tis found
Judas had thirty pence, he thirty pound.

Brandon inherited his wretched office from his father: the predecessor of the Brandons was one Derrick, who has given his name to a temporary kind of crane, used by sailors and builders for suspending and raising heavy weights. Derrick served under the Provost Marshal in the expedition against Cadiz, commanded by Robert Earl of Essex. On this occasion Derrick forfeited his life for an outrage committed on a woman: but Essex pardoned him, probably on account of his useful character, as he was employed to hang twenty-three others. Yet, such are the revolutions of fortune, it subsequently became Derrick's duty to decapitate his preserver Essex. These particulars we learn from the following verse of a contemporary ballad, called Essex's Good Night, in which the unfortunate nobleman is represented saying:

Derrick, thou know'st at Gales I saved
Thy life-lost for a rape there done;
As thou thyself can testify,
Thine own hand three-and-twenty hung.
But now thou seest myself is come,
By chance into thy hands I light;
Strike out thy blow, that I may know
Thou Essex loved at his good-night.

Brandon was succeeded by Dunn, who is mentioned in Hudibras, and in the following royalist epigram on the death of Hugh Peters:

Behold the last and best edition
Of Hugh, the author of sedition:
So full of errors, 'twas not fit
To read, till Dunn corrected it:
But now 'tis perfect-ay, and more,
'Tis better bound than 'twas before.
Now loyalty may gladly sing,
Exit rebellion, in a string:
And if you say, you say amiss,
Hugh now an Independent is.

Dunn's successor was John Ketch, 'whose name,' as the late Lord Macaulay said, 'has during a century and a half been vulgarly given to all who have succeeded him [in London] in his odious office.'

The scaffold has had its code of etiquette. When the Duke of Hamilton, Earl of Holland, and Lord Capel were beheaded, they were brought to the block one by one, according to their rank-the duke first, earl next, and baron last. When Capel was going to address the crowd with his hat on, he was told to take it off, such being the custom of the scaffold. At a later period, the Earl of Kilmarnock, waiving his right with graceful politeness, offered Lord Balmerino the sad precedence: but the sheriffs objected, saying they could not permit the established etiquette to be infringed. With the lower orders, however, there was less ceremony. When the noted chimney-sweep, Sam Hall, was riding up Holborn Hill in a cart, on his last journey, a highwayman, dressed in the fashion, with an elegant nosegay in his button-hole, who shared the vehicle with Sam, cried out, 'Stand off, fellow!' 'Stand off yourself, Mr. Highwayman;' the sweep indignantly retorted, 'I have quite as good a right to be here as you have.'

The ghastly implements of the executioner have been recognised in heraldry. A grandee of Spain bears in his coat-armour a ladder with a gibbet. The wheel, block, and axe, the rack, and other implements of torture are borne by several German houses of distinction: and the Scottish family of Dalziel bear sable a hanged man with his arms extended argent: formerly, as the herald informs us, 'they carried him hanging on a gallows.'


In the town-clerk's office of the City of London are deposited many old manuscripts, highly curious in their character, in relation both to events of importance and to phases of social life. Within the last few years many of them have undergone examination and classification. In 1841 was found among them an original letter from Jonathan Wild, the noted thief-taker, asking for remuneration for services he had rendered to the cause of justice. The letter, which was written in 1723, ran thus:

To the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor and the Court of Aldermen.-The Humble Petition of Jonathan Wild, Sheweth: That your petitioner has been at great trouble and eharge in apprehending and convicting divers felons for returning from transportation since October, 1720 (the names of whom are mentioned in an account hereto annexed). That your petitioner has never received any reward or gratuity for such his service. That he is very desirous to become a free-man of this honourable city, wherefore your petitioner most humbly prays that your Honours will (in eonsideration of his said services) be pleased to admit him into the freedom of this honourable city. And your petitioner shall ever pray, &C.-JONATHAN WILD.

There is appended to the petition, 'An account of the persons apprehended, taken, and convicted for returning from transportation, by Jonathan Wyld (another form of spelling the name), since October 1720, for which he has received no reward, viz.: John Filewood, alias Violett, William Bard, Charles Hinchman, Samuel Whittle, Martin Grey, James Dalton, Robert Godfrey, alias Perkins, Old Harry, alias Harry Williams, Henry Woodford, John Mosse. Several others have been taken by him, and afterwards sent abroad, viz.: Moll King, John Jones, &c., who were notorious street-robbers in the city of London.' There is a record that Jonathan Wild's petition was read by the Court of Aldermen, but we do not find evidence that the coveted freedom of the city was awarded to him.