I was reading up on hanging according to Wikipedia because I've got a scene coming up in my novel wherein some of the characters are slated to be hanged. My original reason for looking up the article was to see if it had information on why we use "hanged" instead of "hung" for the past participle when referring to the capital punishment. It does have such a section, although the reason behind the grammatical discrepancy isn't obvious; it's more of a note than an explanation.
So my curiosity wasn't really sated, but here's some funny things I saw in the article.
Until 1808 the law in Britain offered the death penalty for some 200 offenses, including attempting suicide, being in the company of gypsies for one month, and vagrancy (for soldiers and sailors); even children aged 7–14 years old could be executed if they committed a capital crime and showed "strong evidence of malice".
(Bolding added for emphasis). Excuse me? People were killed for attempting to kill themselves? I'm sorry, but that seems rather silly to me, since you are essentially granting their wish. :ermm: "What are you doing honey?" "Oh dear, I'm just trying to kill myself?" "But you were never a good shot; what if you miss?" "Don't worry about it, muffin, they'll execute me anyway."
By the mid-20th century the average time between taking a victim from the cell and death was around fifteen seconds — although on May 8, 1951 Albert Pierrepoint conducted the fastest hanging on record when James Inglis, whom a court had only three weeks earlier convicted and sentenced for the murder of a prostitute, fell through the trap only seven seconds after leaving his cell.
(Again, I added the bold.) Now this isn't mockery so much as fascination. Seven seconds after leaving his cell? Where were the gallows, next door? I'm not being sceptical here; I'm just impressed by that figure.
Anyway, just some interesting things I noticed while I was reading the article that I thought I'd share. ^_^