Many’s the slip . . .

Published in 18th–19th - Century History, Features, Issue 1(Jan/Feb 2012), Volume 20

One of the most perversely inventive punishments was handed out to John Walker for the theft of a comrade’s coat. He was taken to the gallows and had a rope put around his neck, which was drawn so tightly that he had to stand on tiptoes. In that precarious posture he received twenty lashes in front of his assembled comrades. For good measure, he was to receive the same punishment on two subsequent occasions at the time of a superior officer’s choosing. Obviously, if Walker lost his footing at any time during his ordeals he faced a painful death by strangulation. It must have been a very nice coat indeed to merit such brutal and sustained punishment. (We don’t know whether or not he survived the ordeal.)

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