What Are Some Historical Examples of Women Who Have Been Hanged?


Quick Answer

Though most of the people who have been hanged were men, records of the punishment being applied to women in North America date back to 1632, when Jane Champion was executed in Virginia for unknown reasons. The last woman formally hanged in the United States was Mary Holmes in 1937.

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Full Answer

In 1633, Virginian Margaret Hatch was hanged for murder, as was Dorothy Talby, of Massachusetts, in 1638 for killing her daughter, an infant named Difficulty.

In Colonial America, many offenses were punished with death that are not recognized as crimes by modern legal codes. Massachusetts woman Mary Latham, for example, was hanged in 1648 for adultery. In 1692, 13 women were hanged in Salem over the course of two months for witchcraft. These were the last judicial punishments for witchcraft in North America.

It has frequently happened that condemned women have been hanged despite being granted reprieves. In 1660, a Quaker woman named Mary Dyer was executed in Massachusetts for violating the terms of her exile, though that punishment had been lifted the year before. In 1768, schoolteacher Ruth Blay was hanged in New Hampshire despite a stay from the governor that arrived a few minutes too late. In 1786, Elizabeth Wilson was also granted a reprieve, which arrived 23 minutes after the hanging.

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