1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ketch, John

KETCH, JOHN (d. 1686), English executioner, who as “Jack Ketch” gave the nickname for nearly two centuries to his successors, is believed to have been appointed public hangman in the year 1663. The first recorded mention of him is in The Plotters Ballad, being Jack Ketch’s incomparable Receipt for the Cure of Traytorous Recusants and Wholesome Physick for a Popish Contagion, a broadside published in December 1672. The execution of William, Lord Russell, on the 21st of July 1683 was carried out by him in a clumsy way, and a pamphlet is extant which contains his “Apologie,” in which he alleges that the prisoner did not “dispose himself as was most suitable” and that he was interrupted while taking aim. On the scaffold, on the 15th of July 1685, the duke of Monmouth, addressing Ketch, referred to his treatment of Lord Russell, the result being that Ketch was quite unmanned and had to deal at least five strokes with his axe, and finally use a knife, to sever Monmouth’s head from his shoulders. In 1686 Ketch was deposed and imprisoned at Bridewell, but when his successor, Pascha Rose, a butcher, was, after four months in the office, hanged at Tyburn, Ketch was reappointed. He died towards the close of 1686.