FACT: The Tower of London was not a place of executions

One of the things not true about London includes the fact that the Tower of London or Tower of London was a place where so many executions were carried out.

In reality, executions in past centuries have been very few and the majority of all executions in the Tower of London were in the twentieth century. In fact, in all 21 people were executed in the Tower and 11 of these between 1914 and 1941.

In the first four hundred years of the Tower there were no executions or at least none that we know of. The first to lose his head was William Hastings in 1483. Baron Hastings, an English noble, was one of the followers of the House of York and, within the court, became one of the most trusted men of Edward IV of England.


He was executed at the behest of Edward’s brother. The famous Anna Boleyn followed, wife of Henry VIII in 1536. The Tudors loved to kill each other and in 1541 they cut off the head of Margaret Plantagenet Pole countess of Salisbury, daughter of George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, one of the brothers of kings Edward IV and Richard III and therefore a royal princess by birth.

In 1542 it was the turn of Katherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife and Jane Boleyn who had married Anna’s brother George. In 1554 they cut off the head of Jane Grey who was queen of England and Ireland for only nine days.

Jane Grey’s execution

The last to have his head cut off and the second man was the Earl of Essex Robert Devereux in 1601. He was also the first of three deserters who lost their lives at the Tower of London. The second was Corporal Malcolm Macpherson killed in 1743 and the third Farquhar Shaw also in 1743.

After this else happened nothing until 1914 when within a few years 10 people were shot to death for being accused of spying. The last was Josef Jakobs in 1941 who according to Wikipedia was a German spy and the last person executed at the Tower of London. He was captured shortly after skydiving in the UK during World War II. He too was shot.

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