Burning is a very old method of killing people. In the 18th century in Britain, women found guilty of murdering their husbands were burned. However burning as a punishment was abolished in Britain in 1790..
Drowning was used as tortue to extract information. It was seldom used as a method of execution.
3. Ducking Stool
The ducking stool was a seat on a long wooden arm. Women who were convicted of being scolds or gossips were tied to the seat then ducked into the local pond or river. The last woman to be ducked in England suffered the punishment in 1809.
Hanging was a very common method of execution in England from Saxon times until the 20th century. At first the criminal stood on a ladder, which was pulled away, or on a cart, which was moved. From the 18th century he stood on a trapdoor. Sometimes the hanged man broke his neck when he fell but until the 19th century he was usually strangled by the rope. The last public hanging in Britain took place in 1868.
Mutilation included blinding, cutting off hands, ears and noses or cutting out the tongue.
The French Revolution is notorious for its use of the guillotine. Such devices had been used in various parts of Europe for centuries before the French Revolution. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin (1738-1814) proposed that there should be a swift and humane method of executing people in France. The French Assembly agreed to his idea in 1791 and the first decapitating device was built by a man named Tobias Schmidt, with advice from a surgeon named Antoine Louis. The first person to be executed by the new machine was Nicolas Jacques Pelletier in 1792. The guillotine was last used in France in 1977. The French abolished capital punishment in 1981.
Before 1776 prisoners were sometimes transported to the North American colonies. However in that year the colonies rebelled so the British government began to use old ships as prisons. They were called hulks. From 1787 prisoners were transported to Australia but prisoners were often held on hulks before they were transported. During the Napoleonic Wars French prisoners of war were also held on hulks. Hulks were abolished in 1857.
Transportation was merciful compared to hanging. It was also a convenient way of ridding Britain of criminals. In the 17th and early 18th centuries people were transported to the colonies in North America. However the American Revolution of 1775 brought that to an end. So from 1787 convicts were transported to Australia. Transportation ended in 1868.
A pillory is a wooden device (such as the one in the background) that holds the criminal’s head and hands between two pieces of wood. The criminal is put on public display in the pillory to shame them. Witnesses often abused the pilloried criminal, and in many cases, killed the criminal.
Beheading with a sword or an axe may have been more merciful than hanging but that was not always the case. Sometimes several blows were needed to sever the person's head. In England beheading was normally reserved for the high-born.