Historical Statistics on Executions in England and Wales

face of a prisoner

Statistics for execution in England and Wales compiled from the Clark-Mossop execution rosters improve on execution statistics in the scholarly literature. The Clark-Mossop statistics draw on much more detailed, comprehensive research than do other statistics in the literature. That makes the Clark-Mossop statistics more credible. In addition, the Clark-Mossop statistics provide much better detail for date, sex, and place than do other execution statistics for England and Wales.

The Clark-Mossop statistics differ considerably from some important scholarly statistical claims. One of the leading scholarly works on the history of penal execution in England, Gatrell (1994), states:

we can put national {England and Wales} executions for 1770-1804 at between 4,404 and 5,795. … {The true figure is} probably nearer the higher total than the lower.

The Clark-Mossop statistic for executions in England and Wales, 1770-1804, is 3973. Hence Gatrell (1994)’s low and high estimates are 11% and 46% higher than the Clark-Mossop statistic. Cockburn (1994) found the historical record to “suggest a fairly consistent execution rate of six to seven hundred each year between 1560 and 1790.” Those estimates are much too high. They seem not to account for the difference between death sentences and actual executions. The Clark-Mossop statistic for executions per year, averaged across 1715-1790, is 106 executions. Jenkins (1986) estimated that executions in England in the 1750s numbered “about eighty to a hundred” or “perhaps eighty” per year. The Clark-Mossop data indicate 100 executions per year on average from 1750-1759.

Clark-Mossop statistics:

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