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From: Stephen Hayes
To: All
Date: 2003-07-06 06:26:50
Subject: The Man They Could Not Hang

* Forwarded (from: GENEALOGY_FMY) by Stephen Hayes using timEd/2 1.10.y2k.
* Originally from Ian (8:8/2002) to All.
* Original dated: Sat Jul 05, 05:16

From: "Ian" <ian2003{at}>

In November 1884, elderly spinster, Emma Keyse, was found hacked to death at
her burnt out villa at Babbacombe Bay, South Devon. The person accused of
this atrocity was her employee, John Lee, a young man from nearby

Miss Keyse came from a reputable Victorian background. Some say, she even
had connections with the British Royal Family, although, recently, this has
been strongly denied. Emma Keyse was well known throughout Devon and when
news broke that she had died under such dreadful circumstances, there was
little delay in finding a murderer and bringing the culprit to trial to face
his inevitable execution at Exeter in early 1885.

On the surface, this looks like a straightforward case of killing. There was
little sympathy for John Lee and, on execution day, crowds waited in
anticipation outside Exeter Prison. The throng though was not to see justice
accomplished. Several times they tried to hang Lee and various times it
failed. In the end he was taken back to his cell while outside confusion

Word reached London of this bungle and eventually the Home Secretary decided
that John Lee should serve a life sentence. Questions were asked in
Parliament and throughout the national media about this incident. The story
of Emma Keyse and her murder became even bigger news - the person accused of
this was swiftly jettisoned into the limelight as 'The Man They Couldn't

Throughout the following twenty odd years, from prison, John Lee pleaded his
innocence, claiming another party was involved in the murder. He petitioned
the succession of Home Secretaries until 1907 when he was finally released
from Portland Jail. After his discharge, John 'Babbacombe' Lee toured the
country explaining, in various forms, his story, his innocence, his life in
Victorian & Edwardian prison and his experience the day he was due to hang.
Naturally people were fascinated to hear his yarns . there was even a silent
feature film outlining his 'incredible life'!

I am researching the 1884 Babbacombe Murder.

If you know anything about this case I would like to hear from you.





___ NewsGate v1.0 gamma 2
 - Origin: blueyonder (post doesn't reflect views of blueyonder) (8:8/2002) 

--- WtrGate v0.93.p9 Unreg
 * Origin: Khanya BBS, Tshwane, South Africa [012] 333-0004 (5:7106/20)
SEEN-BY: 633/267 270
@PATH: 7106/20 22 7102/1 140/1 106/2000 633/267

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