Pirates and Gallows at Execution Dock : Nautical Justice in Early Modern England (Samantha Frénée)

Crédits : domaine public

This paper looks at the textual coverage of pirate executions in the Elizabethan and early Jacobean period – we can still see the hangman’s noose at The Prospect of Whitby pub in London. Situated on the river Thames at Wapping this gibbet is all that remains of Execution Dock, the place where English pirates and smugglers were executed between 1400 and 1830 (fig. 1).

The « dock », which consisted of a scaffold for hanging, was located near the shoreline of the River Thames at Wapping. It’s full name, as John Stow, the XVIth century antiquarian, tells us in his Survey of London, is Wapping-in-the-Wose (Wose = ooze/mud). Stow further adds that it was « the usual place of execution for hanging of Pirats & Sea Rovers ». « Land » criminals, on the other hand, were hung at Tyburn (Marble Arch) which is mentioned by Samuel Rowlands in his verse pamphlet of 1613 when he discusses the fate of pirates at Wapping…

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