Posted by SR on April 21, 2004
In Reply to: Help with a request posted by SR on April 06, 2004
: : : I had the following message today. I can't help. Does the request ring any bells with others?
: : : Thanks.
: : : "Hi, I am trying to find out an expression that goes back to the days when people were hung drawn and quartered. The phrase is supposed to have come about when a street urchin was paid a sum of money to knock the feet of the man being hanged from under him and so breaking his neck before he could suffer the rest of the torture. The saying I can't recall, though it is one in common use, and was used by the urchins when they would show the hanging man the coin they were pain, make the comment, and disappear into the crowd. I read it somewhere and it has been bugging me for years.
: : : Can you shed any light on it.
: : : Regards,
: : : Ken MacDonald"
: : He might be thinking of 'kicked the bucket', although that scenario isn't actually the origin of that phrase.
: : This form of execution was common in Ireland many years ago when people were hanged until they were almost dead, then lowered from the scaffold to be drawn on the rack to separate their limbs and eventually cut into four pieces to be buried in four different places. It was, needless to say, a brutal form of execution
: In Britain, criminals were executed by hanging them on the end of a rope. This was slow and painful. The victim could hang for some time before they died. If they were lucky, the fall would break their neck immediately. Very bad criminals were often hung, drawn and quartered.
First they were hung and cut down while still alive. Argh!
Then they were put on a 'rack'. Their feet were tied to one end and hands to the other and they were stretched or drawn out. Ow!
They would then be cut open while still alive. Usually, all their insides would be taken out and burnt before their eyes. This would kill them. Ooo!
Lastly, their dead body was cut up into four quarters. Usually, each part was taken to a different part of the country and displayed as a warning to others.
Yuck! © David Nash Ford 2004. All Rights Reserved.