Execution of a Pirate in Wapping, London
This print by Robert Dobb depicts a pirate being hanged at Execution Dock in Wapping, London's largest seafaring neighborhood. Piracy was a capital offense in the 18th century and British authorities punished maritime criminals in Wapping in the hope that the gruesome spectacle would have a broad social effect and would discourage any would-be pirates. The well-dressed horseman in the bottom-left of the print is holding a silver oar, a symbol of the Admiralty Court. Maritime crimes fell within the jurisdiction of Admiralty Court during the 18th century and the Execution Dock in Wapping served as a symbol of the Admiralty's authority and justice.
Rediker, Marcus. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.