The public Exhibition of the Body of Williams.
Stipple, sheet 105 x 160mm (4 x 6¼"). Trimmed around image and title.
The body of John Williams, the principal suspect in the 'Ratcliff Highway Murders', a series of murders in East London in December 1811. Williams was arrested and imprisoned but before the case went to trial he used his scarf to hang himself in his cell at Coldbath Fields. The court declared Williams guilty of the crimes, taking his suicide as an admission of his guilt. Following this decision, Williams' corpse was paraded through the streets of East London, past the locations of the murders, in a procession supposedly seen by 180,000 people. Thomas De Quincey witnessed the event and wrote of it: 'When the cart came opposite the late Mr Marr's [one of the victims] house a halt was made for nearly a quarter of an hour. ... The procession then advanced to St George's Turnpike, where the New Road [now Commercial Road] is intersected by Cannon Street Road. Those who accompanied the procession arrived at a grave already dug six feet down. The remains of John Williams were tumbled out of the cart and lowered into this hole, and then someone hammered a stake through his heart.'
[Ref: 39205] £80.00