World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Catherine Murphy (counterfeiter)

Article Id: WHEBN0002695560
Reproduction Date:

Title: Catherine Murphy (counterfeiter)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Catherine Murphy, 1789 deaths, Newgate Prison, High treason in the United Kingdom, Capital punishment in the United Kingdom
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Catherine Murphy (counterfeiter)

Catherine Murphy
Died 18 March 1789
Nationality British
Other names Christian Murphy
Occupation counterfeiter
Known for Last woman to be officially executed by burning in England
Criminal charge coining (counterfeiting)
Criminal penalty Death
Spouse(s) Hugh Murphy

Catherine Murphy (died 18 March 1789) (also known as Christian Murphy) was an English counterfeiter, the last woman in England to be officially burned at the stake.

Catherine Murphy and her husband, Hugh Murphy, were convicted for coining at the Old Bailey in London and sentenced to death on 18 September 1788.[1] She and her husband were executed on the morning of 18 March 1789 at Newgate prison along with seven other men who had been convicted of various offences.[2]

The eight men were executed by hanging. But as a woman, the law provided that Murphy should be burnt at the stake. She was brought out past the hanging bodies of the others, and made to stand on a foot high, 10-inch-square platform in front of the stake. She was secured to the stake with ropes and an iron ring. When she finished her prayers, her executioner, William Brunskill, piled faggots of straw around the stake and lit them. According to testimony given by Sir Benjamin Hammett, the Sheriff of London, he gave instructions that she should be strangled before being burned.[3] She was, reportedly, tied with one rope around her neck, after which the platform was removed from under her feet and 30 minutes passed before the fire was lit, and thus, she was not actually burned alive. Whatever the case, Catherine Murphy remains the last person to have been sentenced and at least officially executed by the method of burning. In part through the efforts of Sir Benjamin Hammett, who took the execution of Murphy as an example when he criticised this form of punishment, burning as a method of execution was abolished the next year, by the Treason Act 1790.[3]


  1. ^ "Old Bailey Intelligence". The Times (1123). 19 September 1788. p. 3. 
  2. ^ "News". The Times (1324). 19 March 1789. p. 3. 
  3. ^ a b James Holbert Wilson (1853). Temple bar, the city Golgotha, by a member of the Inner Temple. p. 4. 

External links

  • Burning at the Stake - Capital Punishment UK
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.