Previous: dancing to the gallows
Perhaps Walker Moore danced in the dock when the guilty verdict was announced because he knew he would never reach the gallows. Or, perhaps he was simply glad that an end was in sight.
The newspaper coverage continued in anticipation of his execution. On 30 Aug 1862, the Lancaster Gazette told its readers:
“The condemned criminal Walker Moore – This unfortunate man upon whom the dread sentence for the murder of his wife at Colne, will be carried into effect this day at 12 o clock, is perfectly resigned to his fate, but conducts himself with a firmness truly astonishing…..On Tuesday his brothers and some relatives visited and took their final leave of him…He has been constantly attended night and day by some of the gaol officials – The executioner, Calcraft, arrived last evening.”
It turned out that the gaol officials were not as vigilant as they might have been and Calcraft had wasted his time.
The prospect of Moore’s hanging meant “from Friday at noon till Saturday morning crowds of people flocked in from all parts of the surrounding districts, and even from distant parts”
The assembled crowd did not believe the rumour that the hanging would not take place until the beam was removed from the gallows: Moore had drowned himself that morning in one of the prison cisterns. Things moved quickly after that: an inquest was held in the afternoon and Moore was buried at midnight “in the presence of a large concourse of spectators, the number of which was computed at not less than 1,000, and amongst them was a very large number of females..”
All the witnesses at the inquest concurred that Moore was as sane as they and the coroner arrived at the verdict “That the deceased committed suicide being at the time in a state of sound mind.”
It was so unusual for a condemned prisoner to escape their fate that some of the London newspapers, were caught out:
Sources: various contemporary newspapers