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A History of Horncastle by James Conway Walter

William Marwood was born at Goulceby


Games, at Athens, 1906, 2nd in 110 metres hurdle race.

English Championship, 120 yards hurdle race, at Manchester, 1907, 2nd.

Northern Counties' 100 yards Championship, hurdle race, Darlington, 1905, 2nd.

Northern Counties' Champion, 100 yards, at Batley, 1907, 1st.

Northern Counties' Champion, 120 yards, at Batley, 1907, 1st.

Northern Counties' Champion, 220 yards, at Darlington, 1907, 1st.

Northern Counties' Champion, long jump, at Darlington, 1907, 1st.

A record, no one before having won more than two events. His "bests" have been: 100 yards in 10 seconds; 120 yards (hurdles) 16 and three-fifth seconds; 220 yards (hurdles) 23 seconds; high jump, 5-ft. 8-in.; long jump, 22-ft. 4-in. He was also selected to represent England in the foot races at the Franco-British Exhibition, at Shepherd's Bush, 1908.


Horncastle had, for some years, the dubious honour of being the home of the public hangman. William Marwood was born at Goulceby, about six miles from Horncastle, and afterwards lived some years in Old Bolingbroke, coming to Horncastle about 1860; where he was a shoemaker, having a small shop in Church Street, now

occupied by Mr. Joseph Borrill, of the same trade. Before being himself appointed hangman he assisted his predecessor in that office, Calcraft, and succeeded him in 1872; continuing the duties until his death, Sept. 4th, 1883; when he in turn was succeeded by Bartholomew Binns. He was rather short in stature, with large square head and large hands, indicative of firmness of character. His first official act was to hang a man named Francis Horry, at Lincoln, who murdered his wife at Boston, in 1872; his last was to hang a man, James Burton, at Durham, who murdered his young wife, aged only 18, from jealousy. On this occasion the man fainted on the scaffold, and got entangled with the rope under his arm, and Marwood had to lift him in his arms to get him disentangled, and then drop the unconscious man down--a painful scene. {155} This was only about a fortnight before his own death. Among his last executions was that of Charles Peace, a notorious burglar, who shot a man at Banner Cross, near Sheffield. In May, 1882, he went to Dublin to execute the perpetrators of the Phoenix Park murders, three Fenians, who shot Lord E. Cavendish, and his secretary, Mr. Burke. In his last illness, which was short, it was suspected that his health had been in some way injured through Fenian agency, and a post mortem examination was held by order of the Home Secretary, but a verdict was returned of "natural death." Mr. Henry Sharp, Saddler, of the Bull Ring, was one of the jury on this occasion.

Marwood's wife was, for some years, ignorant of her husband's official occupation, as he generally accounted for his absence by saying that he had to go away to settle some legal question. Visiting the slaughter-house of a neighbouring butcher, he observed to him that he could "do" for men as the butcher did for cattle, because the men whom he had to deal with were themselves "beasts."

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