"A more villanous-looking lot never hung in a row on Execution dock"
The Location of Execution Dock in London
Public DomainThe Location of Execution Dock in London - Credit: John Rocque 1746

For those convicted of a nefarious crime at sea, Execution Dock awaited. Located on the River Thames in London's Wapping area, the dock witnessed many hangings over a 400-year period. The British Admiralty handled all nautical crimes; pirates in particular faced a gruesome death.

Piracy was considered one of the worst crimes that a man could commit. Consequently, the hangmen would shorten the rope so that the fall was not long enough to break the neck. The result was a slow and painful strangling, which caused the body to jerk about wildly. It came to be called the Marshal's Dance, and many danced their last jig on London's Execution Dock.


Execution Dock at Madame Tussauds
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumExecution Dock at Madame Tussauds - Credit: Wolcott @ Wikimedia Commons


Madame Tussauds has recreated Execution Dock; its victim, however, is a figure of wax.