Unfortunately for Mary Ann Cotton, although she would be spared a public execution, her executioner that day, would be none other than William Ong Calcraft, a 73 year old bungler who was known to throttle to death his victims by insisting on a short length of rope, for the drop. He was known throughout the land for inflicting such agonising deaths on his clients, so much so that when he retired at the age of 74 his successor William Marwood said of him, “Ah Calcraft came from a family of slow worms. He choked his prisoners to death, he throttled them, but I will execute them”! In a sentence that really sums up old Calcraft, in an estimated total he executed between 400 and 450 criminals with his career spanning over 45 years! His life story and career is a veritable Pandora’s box of “abandoning his mother” “bungled executions” and a “large dram of the good old liquor.” Charles Dickens had on occasions been a spectator at several of Calcraft's executions. Dickens himself was an anti-capital punishment lobbyist and during one execution described Calcraft in the following terms. “Mr. William Calcraft the finisher of the law, of whom I have witnessed several times about his dastardly craft. He should be restrained in his unseemly briskness to dispatch the felons without a bungle, he should also refrain from his briskness of jokes, his apparent oath and of his brandy”!