Dear Mr Cornwell, First let me thank you for all the pleasure that reading your books has given me. I find your notes at the back very interesting. (The last, Gallows Thief, I read in NZ and passed it on to a Kiwi friend fascinated by English history!) I was interested in your notes in this book, about the almost carnival atmosphere at a public hanging. My late mother left me a collection of lace bobbins; the shaft of one is decorated with the name 'W Worsley hung 1868'. She found that he was William Worsley but I haven't found out anything more about him. Do you know whether commemorative bobbins like this one would have been made to peddle at hangings? Or might this have been an occasional thing, for relatives of the victim perhaps? I'd be interested to hear what you might know - many thanks, Juliet Lewis
I've never heard of it (doesn't mean it didn't happen) and William Worsley would not have been publicly hanged in 1868 because by then executions had long been transferred to the inside of prisons, so there would probably have been far fewer souvenirs made. I suspect, and this is only a guess, that poor William was a weaver and the bobbin belonged to him and his family carved it as a memento - but that's only a guess.