The Coroners Inquest.
Later that afternoon at the Coroners Inquest William Boyd gave his evidence as follows, and it is perhaps worth remembering that he had previously stated that Mary Ann Cotton had died instantly, when informing the Home Secretary.
I William Boyd am the Surgeon to Durham Prison, I attended the execution of Mary Ann Cotton this morning at 8 o’clock. At 9 o’clock after she had hung for one hour, I examined her body and found her to be dead. She had died from Asphyxia.
William Boyd’s referral to her death as being by Asphyxia is extraordinary, he appears to have sealed Calcraft’s fate as the state executioner with one word. And directly accused him of being responsible for strangulating her rather than a clean instant death such as a snapping of the Cervical Spine. It is also apparent from Inquest documents and from verbal statements at the time, that many of those person’s present at the execution, were appalled at the strangulation of this prisoner, given that she had recently given birth to a child and was by many regarded as being medically unfit for capital punishment.
John Miles Favell the County Coroner concluded the hearing by saying that Mary Ann Cotton “died this morning having been executed by hanging. That the body we have seen is the identical body of Mary Ann Cotton, ordered for execution and that she was duly executed according to law.”
©. 2000-2010 & 2023. Ian Smyth Herdman.