A stylish exit
[SHIRLEY, Laurence, fourth Earl Ferrers.] ~ An Account of the Execution of the late Laurence Earl Ferrers, Viscount Tamworth, and of His Lordship’s Behaviour, From the Time of his being delivered into the Custody of the Sherriffs of London and Middlesex, Until the Time of his Execution. By the Authority of the Sherriffs. London: sold by M. Cooper, 1760.
4to (265 × 170 mm.), pp. 11,  bl. Woodcut tailpiece. Title and blank verso of last leaf rather dust-stained, the latter with a handful of early ink pen-tests, traces of an earlier transverse fold, a few minor short tears without loss. Nineteenth-century pink paper wrappers with manuscript label to upper cover. 3 old library stamps of the William Salt Library, Stafford (the first marked 'duplicate' in old manuscript).
FIRST EDITION of the scarce licensed report of the celebrated case of the execution of the Fourth Earl Ferrers, Viscount Tamworth, said to have been the "first sufferer by the new drop just then introduced in the place of the barbarous cart, ladder, and mediaeval three-cornered gibbet" (DNB citing All the Year Round and Walpole's Letters).
Ferrers had been found guilty of the murder of a household steward whom he had shot at his house at Staunton Harrold, Leicestershire, apparently as a result of a long-held grudge. His execution at Tyburn was a remarkable public spectacle as this report attests. The victim chose to dress for his execution in a pale suit embroidered with silver and was taken from the Tower in his own landau drawn by six horses "instead of the Mourning-Coach which had been provided by his friends" through the streets of London, which were lined with hundreds of thousands of spectators. Maintaining an elegant composure to the last and giving the customary tribute to his executioners (who squabbled over the five guineas he gave them) Ferrers submitted to the new apparatus which did its job with only limited success. The platform "instantly sunk down from beneath his Feet, and left him entirely suspended; but not having sunk down so low as was designed, it was immediately pressed down, and leveled with the rest of the floor." While it is admitted that Ferrers died only when "eased of all Pain by the Pressure of the Executioner" the account denies that the execution was bungled and specifically refutes reports that "his Lordship stood for some time on tip-toe". The account concludes with the conveyance of Ferrers's body to Surgeon's Hall to be dissected and anatomized according to the relatively recent act (25 Geo. II. C. 37 'An Act for Better Preventing the Horrid Crime of Murder').