A Timeline of Punishments

By Tim Lambert

337 AD Crucifixion is abolished in the Roman Empire

1307 In Dublin a device for beheading people is mentioned

1401 In England a law makes burning the punishment for heresy

1431 In France Joan of Arc is burned

1531 In England a law makes boiling alive the punishment for poisoners

1547 Boiling alive is abolished in England

1735 The last man in Britain to be pressed to death dies in Horsham

1778 Bathsheba Spooner is the first woman hanged in the newly independent USA

1787 The first prisoners are transported from Britain to Australia

1790 Burning to death is abolished in Britain

1792 The guillotine is introduced in France

1827 Breaking on the wheel is abolished in Germany

1817 In Britain a woman is sentenced to the ducking stool for the last time but the water in the pond is too low to immerse her

1824 The scold’s bridle is last used in Britain

1829 Branding with hot irons is abolished in Britain

1837 The pillory is abolished in Britain

1857 In Britain hulks (old ships) are no longer used as prisons

1868 The last public execution in Britain takes place. Transportation of prisoners from Britain to Australia ends.

1870 In Britain hanging, drawing and quartering is abolished

1872 The stocks is abolished in Britain

1881 Flogging is abolished in the British army

1890 In USA William Kemmler became the first person to die in the electric chair

1898 The crank is abolished in British prisons. The treadmill is also abolished in British prisons.

1899 Martha Place is the first woman executed by electric chair

1924 In the USA the gas chamber is first used for an execution

1941 Josef Jakobs is the last person executed in the Tower of London

1948 In Britain birching is abolished for civilians (but not in prisons). In British prisons hard labour is abolished.

1955 Ruth Ellis is the last woman hanged in Britain

1964 The last executions are carried out in Britain

1965 In Britain capital punishment is abolished for an experimental period of 5 years

1967 Whipping and birching are made illegal in British prisons

1969 In Britain hanging is permanently abolished

1977 In the USA Gary Gilmore is shot by a firing squad. The guillotine is used for the last time in France.

1981 Capital punishment is abolished in France

1982 Lethal injection is first used as a means of execution in the USA

1987 Corporal punishment is abolished in state schools in Britain

1999 Corporal punishment is abolished in private schools in England