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Woman secured to a stake in the middle of a fire
Contemporary illustration of the execution of Catherine Hayes
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Catherine Hayes née Hall (1690–1726), was the last woman in England to be executed by being burned alive. She had been convicted of petty treason for the murder of her husband on 1 March 1726, when with the help of two male accomplices she had beaten him to death.[1]

William Makepeace Thackeray wrote a fictionalised account of Catherine’s life in Catherine: A Story, serialised in 1839–1840 in Fraser’s Magazine, as a parody of the Newgate novelsThe Newgate novels are an early form of sensation literature, drawing their inspiration from the Newgate Calendar, first published in 1773 and containing biographies of famous criminals..[2]