Robert Orridge Baxter

Robert Orridge Baxter

English executioner
Country: Great Britain

  1. Biography of Robert Orindge Baxter
  2. Early Career
  3. Main Executioner
  4. Rivalry and Controversy
  5. Incident at Swansea Prison
  6. Later Years and Death

Biography of Robert Orindge Baxter

Robert Orindge Baxter was an English executioner from Hertfordshire. His career spanned from 1915 to 1935, during which he performed 44 hangings and assisted in 53 others.

Early Career

Born around 1878, Robert Baxter conducted his first execution by hanging on July 15, 1915, as an assistant to Thomas Pierrepoint. Over the next few years, he occasionally served as an assistant to Pierrepoint and John Ellis.

Main Executioner

On August 17, 1924, Baxter took on the role of chief executioner for the first time, hanging Frenchman Jean-Pierre Vaquier. For the next ten years, Baxter carried out the highest number of executions in England, second only to Pierrepoint. Both of them operated at a regional level, and Baxter conducted nearly all the executions in London, including 24 at Pentonville Prison.

Rivalry and Controversy

A rivalry developed between Baxter and Pierrepoint, to the point where they even wrote letters to sheriffs' assistants requesting work and both received reprimands. Baxter was regarded as a skilled executioner, described as a quiet and competent man who performed his duties quickly and efficiently. However, he had one minor flaw.

Incident at Swansea Prison

On December 11, 1928, Baxter carried out the death sentence on Trevor Edwards at Swansea Prison. Working at his usual fast pace, Baxter failed to notice that his new assistant, Alfred Allen, who was conducting his first execution, had not stepped off the trapdoor after tying the condemned man's legs. When Baxter pulled the lever, Allen fell into the pit along with Edwards but escaped unharmed. Baxter blamed Allen for the mistake, but an investigation revealed that Baxter was completely blind in his left eye. Despite this revelation, Baxter faced no punishment and retained his job. However, his relationship with Allen remained strained, and they considered each other the most unpleasant people they had ever known.

Later Years and Death

By the mid-1930s, Baxter's health declined, and his reactions gradually diminished. On October 30, 1935, he was officially relieved of his position by the Ministry of the Interior. Baxter was married to Lydia Baxter and raised their only child together. He passed away in 1961 at the age of 83.