Until the 1940s, judges handing down death sentences in Britain would say the following: “The sentence of this court is that you will be taken from here to the place from whence you came and there be kept in close confinement until [date of execution], and upon that day that you be taken to the place of execution and there hanged by the neck until you are dead. And may God have mercy upon your soul.” Imagine he didn’t say ‘neck’ – Imagine he said ‘ribs’ instead.
It was a relatively common punishment in Russia in the 18th century, with a travelling German physician noting that it would take around 3 days for the condemned to expire, usually from thirst.
But it wasn’t just ‘criminals’ who received the hook – slaves in the Dutch colony of Suriname were also subjected to this torturous death sentence. It has been claimed that this was a form of punishment used by the African tribes from whence the slaves derived, but so what? Were the Dutch slavers simply trying to make their slaves ‘feel more at home’? Awful.