'Ambition to be hanged'

Local historian Kay Hunter has been hosting a display on capital punishment history and ephemera at our recent Lock-up open days. Kay has been researching this topic and collecting material for many years and produces brief newsletters sharing some of the material he has found. He has also featured as a speaker on the topic at several Birmingham organisations.

Kay shared his most recent newsletter with us:

"Alexander Burton (1845-1863) committed a murder, to fulfil a bizarre ambition.

Burton (18) had committed several acts of random violence, against innocent people and as a result had served several months in gaol.

Entrance to Maidstone Prison

When Burton saw Tommy Houghton, (8) playing outside his house, Burton violently assaulted Houghton punching him then cutting his throat with a knife.

Giving himself up, it later transpired at Kent Assizes that his motive was to get himself hanged, and his wish was duly complied with.

In the condemned cell, Burton remarked: “ I am quite ready” and smiling at the noose, was hanged outside Maidstone gaol by Britain's longest serving hangman, the notorious William Calcraft (in office 1829-1874)."

Details from Kay's personal collection.

Details of how to contact Kay can be found at the below website: