Tuesday, May 22, 2007

He Was at the End of His Rope

The Toronto Star has an interesting profile of John Radclive—Canada's first professional hangman.

Quite apart from his profession, Radclive was a hard man to warm to. In 1892 he started a brawl in Hull after he announced in a bar that he had "come to hang a Frenchman, and hoped it would not be the last." He was badly beaten and had to be rescued by a wagonload of police.

A few years later in Vancouver, the Star reported, he proposed to cut off the queue (pigtail) of a condemned Chinese man "and divide it up as souvenirs of the occasion, and altogether expressed himself in ways that show him to be a person of coarse temperament."

He was also notorious for selling rope to the curious after hangings – that might or might not have actually been used.

Interviewed in the 1930s, [Arthur] English said a British Columbia sheriff once actually caught Radclive in a hardware store buying lengths of rope to sell. [Link]

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