Joseph Samuel, or Samuels, the man they could not hang, born in 1780, was an Englishman known for having survived three attempts at hanging him. Convicted for robbery in 1795, he was sentenced in 1801 to transportation to Australia. One of 297 convicted felons aboard the vessels Nile, Canada and Minorca.
ESCAPE IN AUSTRALIA
Samuel succeeded in escaping and with help robbed the home of a wealthy woman named Mary Breeze. The robbery haul included a desk containing money and valuable paperwork. In the process, a policeman named Joseph Luker, guarding her home was brutally murdered. Luker was stabbed at least 16 times, beaten with the desk and a wheelbarrow. The gang was hunted down and quickly captured. During the trial, the woman recognised Joseph Samuel as one of the culprits. He confessed to robbing her home but denied having murdered the policeman. The other gang members, including the leader, were acquitted due to a lack of evidence. Still, because the woman identified Samuel and one of the other criminals put Samuel’s name forward as the killer. He was convicted of the robbery and sentenced to death by hanging.
The gang was hunted down and quickly captured. During the trial, the woman recognised Joseph Samuel as one of the culprits. He confessed to robbing her home but denied having murdered the policeman. The other gang members, including the leader, were acquitted due to a lack of evidence. Still, because the woman identified Samuel and one of the other criminals put Samuels name forward as the killer. He was convicted of the robbery and sentenced to death by hanging.
TWO FOR THE GALLOWS, ONE MAN THEY COULD NOT HANG
On 26 September 1803, Samuel and another criminal, convicted of another separate crime, were driven in a cart to Parramatta. Hundreds of people had gathered to watch the execution. Nooses were fastened securely around two men’s necks from the gallows. After they were allowed to pray with a priest, the Hangman drove the cart away.
This was the common method of hanging of the day and caused death by slow strangulation. Not until the latter half of the 19th century did the British employ the drop method, which breaks the neck.
HOW MANY HANGINGS?
When the cart drove out from under him, Samuel fell once again. The noose slipped off his neck, whereupon his boots touched the ground. The executioner was sure to have fastened the noose securely around his neck. He stood Samuel up to try again. The crowd had become boisterous, calling for Samuel to be freed. The executioner very quickly readied another five strand hemp rope. Ordered the cart driven back, forced Samuel onto it. Fastened the noose around his neck, secured it very carefully and tightly, and then ordered the cart driven away. The rope snapped, and Samuel dropped to the ground and stumbled over, trying to avoid landing on his sprained ankle.
Now the crowd stood around in an uproar. A policeman, watching on horseback, ordered the execution delayed momentarily while he rode away to find the governor. The governor was summoned to the scene and upon inspection of the ropes, which showed no evidence of cutting. The other criminal, who was successfully executed with an identical rope. the governor and the entire crowd agreed that it was a sign from God that Joseph Samuel had not committed any crime deserving of execution. Because of this his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment instead.
The man they could not hang.
Parramatta’s town doctor tended to his sprained ankle.
Read the story of how Samuels ended up being sentenced to death.
BUY FROM AMAZON.COM.AU