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1885: Not John “Babbacombe” Lee, the man they could not hang


On this date in 1885, a most inexplicable thing occurred on the gallows of Exeter. It was there that John Lee, nicknamed “Babbacombe”, made his peace with his maker and faced hanging for the murder of an elderly spinster a few months before. Lee still protested his innocence. He was not generally believed. We’ll let Charles Hoy Fort, that renowned chronicler of the impossible, take it from here: It was a scene of the mechanism and solidity of legal procedure, as nearly real as mechanism and solidity can be. Noose on his neck, and up on the scaffold they stood…

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