Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hempen adj.

[SE hempen, made of hemp, i.e. like the hangman’s noose]

in combs. below, pertaining to judicial execution by hanging.

In compounds

hempen apoplexy (n.)

death by hanging.

[UK]Sporting Mag. 19 199/1: Give us a good account of the lively lads, whose spirit brings them to a hempen apoplexy .
hempen ballast (n.)

(UK Und.) money paid to thief takers and others involved in the conviction of felons.

[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict. n.p.: Hempen ballast money given and received by thief-takers and others for convicting felons.
hempen caudle (n.) [pun on SE caudle, a gruel spiced with wine or ale and given to the sick, and especially to women in labour; thus the noose is ironically also a form of ‘painkiller’]

the hangman’s noose.

[UK]J. Taylor ‘Praise of Hemp-Seed’ in Works (1869) III 68: To end this matter, thus much I assure you, / A Tiburne Hempen-caudell well will cure you.
hempen collar (n.)

a hangman’s noose.

[UK]Three Ladies of London III: The Painter saies when he is hang, you may put out the knot without fear. I am sure they were armes, for there was written in Romaine letters round the hempen collar, Getten by the worthie valiant Captaine Maister Fraud.
Salamanca Doctor’s Farewell 1: To this Collar of Wood comes a hempen Crevat [sic] Titus’s Exaltation Pillory.
[UK]Motteux (trans.) Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) II Bk V 493: Oh! they will cost me an estate in hempen collars [...] they will take the pains to dance at a rope’s end.
[UK]Reading Mercury 29 June 4/1: We hear that a hempen collar was given to Holland, a Minister of the law.
[US]Adventures of Jonathan Corncob 71: ‘Fie! fie! my jewel,’ said he, ‘you a soldier, used to leathern stock, and make faces at the touch of a hempen collar!’.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Jan. XVII 203/2: Halters no more than hempen collars are.
[UK]Chester Courant 25 Jan. 4/5: I bequeath a string hempen collar, as the only legacy I can think that is worthy of him.
[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford I 74: If ever I know as how you makes a flat of my Paul, blow me tight, but I’ll weave you a hempen collar: I’ll hang you, you dog, I will.
[UK]W.N. Glascock Land Sharks and Sea Gulls II 11: I’ll tell you what, Bess, if you means to be a spy upon me, or blow the gaff [...] you had better at once fit yourself with a hempen collar.
[US]J.R. Lowell Biglow Papers (1880) 14: It comes so nateral to think about a hempen collar.
[UK]Western Times 13 Mar. 7/5: He would give the rogues a hempen collar.
[UK]Reynolds’s Newspaper 7 June 4/3: Instead of a hempen collar of which poor Wall died, he is likely to receive a lordly coronet.
[UK]Western Times 3 July 2/3: As he is the Executioner of the Law, a ‘hempen collar’ or a silken cord would have been typical.
[UK]Pall Mall Gaz. 26 June 5/2: Some day democracy will be inclined to fit a hempen collar round the necks of some of these astute gentlemen.
[UK]Graphic (London) 21 May 24/2: It was said he was to be granted the hempen collar.
[UK]Western Times 1 Sept. 10/2: Indeed, we care not whether poison or shot, / Or, like Casement, a hempen collar.
[US]L. Pound ‘American Euphemisms for Dying’ in AS XI:3 200: Put on the hempen collar.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
hempen consummation (n.)

death by judicial hanging.

[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford II 125: Yourself grabbed, with a slight possibility of a hempen consummation.
hempen cravat (n.) (also hempen choker, …circle, ...garment, ...halter, ...hood, ...hornpipe, ...knot, …neckcloth, ...necklace, ...necktie, ...noose, ...ring, ...snare, ...squincy, ...string, ...tackle, …tie, ...twine, ...wings, hemp cravat, …halter, …necktie, …tie) [SE squinsy, a form of tonsillitis]

the hangman’s noose; also one who is to be hanged, gallows bait; cite 1793 refers to a rope, but not for hanging.

[UK]Skelton Agenst Garnesche v line 161: God garde the, Garnyche, from the rope! Stop a tyd, and be welle ware Ye be nat cawte in an hempen snare.
[UK]U. Fulwell Art of Flattery 8th dialogue 38: Lo here is cretinsis cum cretense, a cogging knaue with a foysting varlet wel met: he with his herhaltrie and you with your hemp-haltrie.
[UK]Nashe Death and Buriall of Martin Mar-Prelate in Works I (1883–4) 174: Neither is there any one of all your crue, that would not be glad to die that death: but it will not be, except you will be enstald in a hempen whood.
[UK]Rowlands Knave of Hearts 48: To such an end as my last line Concludes withall, the Hempen-twine.
[UK]Dekker ‘Canting Song’ O per se O O2: Away, sweet Ducks, with greedy eyes From London walk up Holborne / Sue him who stole your clothes: he flyes with hempen wings to Tyborne.
[UK]Massinger New Way to Pay Old Debts V i: There is a statute for you, which will bring Your necke in a hempen circle, yes there is.
[UK]T. Randolph Jealous Lovers III xiv: Shall we not be suspected for the murder, / And choke with a hempen squincy?
Jack Adams his perpetual almanack (2 edn) 26: On the first line write Green sleeves [...] on the eleventh a Hempen Halter.
[UK]C. Cotton Virgil Travestie (1765) Bk IV 144: And loth a Queen in Hempen Tackle / Should to Plebeians be a Spectacle.
[UK] ‘The Plotters’ Ballad’ in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads (1878) II 702: A Hempen Cravat to stop up your Breath, / Will give you abundance of Ease.
[UK]S. Wesley Maggots 154: Who Mounts the Bridal Bed is madder / By far, than him that Mounts the Ladder. / What Man in’s Wits wo’n’t rather chuse / The Hempen, than the Marriage Noose?
[UK]Hell Upon Earth 11: The Yeoman of the Halter, then adorns them with a hempen Garment.
[UK]J. Gay ‘4th Pastoral’ Shepherd’s Week 37: He wist not when the hempen String I drew.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) xvii: But whatever the costume, one gruesome addition was always in fashion — the ‘hempen cravat’ already knotted round the neck.
‘Whipping-Tom’ In Praise of Knavery III 20: He will swing at Tyburn [...] A Man never looks so Silly as when he has a Hempen Halter for his Neckcloth.
[UK]J. Sheppard Sheppard in Egypt 22: He that’s to be hang’d, & fate hath fixt th’lot, / To all’s Invulnerable but a H--p-n Knot, / No wonder then this Throat escap’d the Cut.
[UK]Newcastle Courant 19 Dec. 3/2: If George, in a good Hempen String, / Dooms B**, and all such K—s, to swing / Then, we’ll pray, God Save the King.
[UK]Scoundrel’s Dict. 24: He flies / with Hempen Wings to Tyburn.
Rambler’s Mag. Mar. 115/2: May each knave swing / In an hempen string.
[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ ‘The Rights of Kings’ Works (1794) III 53: Your hemp cravats, your pray’r, your Tyburn mien, May pardon gain from our good King and Queen.
[UK]Oxford Jrnl 21 Sept. 3/2: An affectionate husband [...] took her (his rib) to the market cross where being provided with an auctioneer and a hempen necklace [...] she was knocked down to a purchaser.
[US]A.B. Lindsley Yankee Notions 27: It’s apt to introduce its authors and abettors to hempen neck cloths. [Ibid.] 53: Oh, there’s no doubt we shall get the hempen cravats by and bye.
[UK]W. Scott Bride of Lammermoor 290: I wad wager twa and a plack that hemp plaits his cravat yet.
[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 256: You might set at nought the tightest hempen cravat that was ever twisted.
[UK] ‘The Hand of Glory’ Bentley’s Misc. Mar. 303: There’s a horrid old hag in a steeple-crown’d hat, / Round her neck they have tied to a hempen cravat / A Dead Man’s hand, and a dead Tom Cat.
[UK]Reading Mercury 29 Sept. 4/3: He who signs the warrant [...] must some day die too, when the ermine tippet must [...] lie down with the hempen string.
[UK] ‘Christopher Snub’ in New Monthly Mag. Sept.–Dec. 190: His tree of social liberty was the tree that grew at Tyburn: the Gordian knot of policy, a nice new hempen halter.
[UK]Kendal Mercury 23 Dec. 1/7: He was under trial for some three or four libels — with the simple addition of a ‘hempen cravat’.
[UK]J. Lindridge Sixteen-String Jack 356: So hang me [...] let it be done by an hempen neck-cloth.
[UK] ‘Things I Do Like To See’ Diprose’s Comic Song Book 24: And I do like to see, I do, and that’s flat, / A chap wear a silk, not a hempen cravat.
Delhi Gazette Extra 22 July n.p.: Let us view Delhi, [...] the General Commander sitting in the Moghul’s Palace, and a hempen necklace around the King’s throat as a substitute for his crown.
[UK]Dundee Advertiser 6 Oct. 2/4: Mrs M’Lachlan does not admire a hempen necklace and would rather prefer that someone else’s neck than hers should be fitted with that vulgar ornament.
[UK]London Standard 14 Apr. 4/5: More than half the total wore the white cap and the hempen halter.
[US] ‘O Andy J’ Grant Songster 29: O Andy Judas, circle swinger, / It is you who ought to swing [...] within a hempen ring.
[UK]Manchester Eve. News 14 Apr. 4/5: Despite the remonstrances of the coroner’s jury [...] Evans carried off the hempen necklace to add to his trophies.
[UK]Sheffield Dly Teleg. 13 Aug. 3/7: He [was] threatened [...] with a hempen cravat, and the navigation of the Bosphorus in a sack.
[UK]M.E. Braddon Mohawks III 107: Nothing but the immediate prospect of a hempen necklace would extort that.
[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 408: A crowd of slatternly women and juvenile candidates for the hempen cravat clustered about the portals of the Hen and Chickens.
[US]Daily Herald (Brownsville, TX) 20 May 2/2: A few of the white caps should be decorated with white caps and hemp neckties.
[US]NY Tribune 8 Oct. 8/5: The negro seems to prefer this to the hemp necktie with which the Democrats decorate him.
[UK]Marvel III:58 17: Then I can see a lot of cop-folk never getting any more rest in their naturals [...] ’cos Big Jim don’t mean to wear the hemp tie.
[UK]N. Lucas Autobiog. of a Thief 172: She replied that I was of the sort which comes to wear a hempen tie in the end.
[UK]D.L. Sayers Have His Carcase 267: I’ll begin seriously to weave a hempen neck-tie for him.
[US]L. Pound ‘American Euphemisms for Dying’ in AS XI:3 200: Put on the hempen collar/cravat/necktie/necklace/anodyne necklace/choker/halter.
[US]Baber & Walker Longest Rope 34: We wanted to lynch Frank Canton, and if we had been allowed to hand him a hemp necktie right then, it would have saved a heap of good men [DA].
[UK]N. Nye Long Run (1983) 67: You want a hemp necktie?
hempen fever (n.) (also hemp fever)

a judicial hanging.

[[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 181: He fell sick of a filching Fever, for which the Doctor of the Tripple-Tree applied the powerful Cordial of Hemp to his Jugular Vein, so that the strength of Application not being allayed in time, cast him into a dead Sleep, and for ever spoiled his drinking at the Boozing-ken].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Hempen fever, a man who was hanged, is said to have died of a hempen fever.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]W. Scott Pirate (1822) II 81: Are you advised what death he died of? [...] for I have heard that it was of a tight neck-collar – a hempen fever.
[UK](con. 1703) W.H. Ainsworth Jack Sheppard (1917) 23: The unpleasant complaint, de hempen fever.
[UK]Burnley Exp. 8 Aug. 4/8: Victims of the hangman’s rope were said to [...] ‘die of the hempen fever’.
hempen fortune (n.) (also hempen furniture)

(UK Und.) money paid to thief takers and others involved in the conviction of felons.

[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795) n.p.: [hempen] fortune money received as rewards for convicting felons by thief takers.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant n.p.: [hempen] furniture money received as rewards for convicting felons by thief-takers and others; commonly called blood-money.
[UK]Flash Dict. [as cit. 1809].
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. [as cit. 1809].
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1809].
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict. n.p.: Hempen furniture the same.
hempen habeas (n.) [pun on habeas corpus, lit. ‘thou shalt have the body’; a writ whereby an accused and imprisoned person must be brought before the court and the reason for his imprisonment justified]

a hangman’s noose.

[UK]W. Perry London Guide 42: Men who rob only occasionally [...] mistake the obect, and get into trouble, from which they are released only by a hempen habeas corpus.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc.
hempen substitute (n.)

a hangman’s noose.

[UK]Paul Pry 30 Sept. 181/3: I hope some day or the other, instead of your being in the custody of hemp, you may end your exploits by a hempen substitute.
hempen widow (n.)

a woman whose husband is hanged.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Hempen-widdow one whose Husband was Hang’d.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Noted Highway-men, etc. I 219: Nan was left a hempen widow, and forc’d to shift for herself.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Dyche & Pardon New General Eng. Dict. (5th edn) n.p.: Hempen-Widow (s.), a woman whose husband was hanged [F&H].
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc.
[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 186: He never left anything behind him [...] except a broken kit and a hempen widow.
[UK](con. 1703) W.H. Ainsworth Jack Sheppard (1917) 2: You show [...] consideration to the feelings of a hempen widow.
[Ire] ‘Nix My Dolly’ Dublin Comic Songster 3: In a box of the stone jug I was born, / Of a hempen widow the kid forlorn.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict.
[Ire]Dublin Eve. Mail 7 Nov. 1/6: A London theatre [...] to conclude with ‘Horsemonger Lane Joe; or the child of the Hempen Widow’.
[UK]H. Mayhew London Characters 346: The well-known Newgate metaphor of a ‘hempen widow’.
[UK]Stephens & Yardley Little Jack Sheppard 28: [lyrics] In a box of the stone jug I was born / Of a hempen widow.
[UK]C. Whibley ‘Jonathan Wild’ Book of Scoundrels 82: Molly, his wife, was destined a second time to win the conspicuous honour that belongs to a hempen widow.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

In phrases

look through a hempen window (v.)

to be hanged.

[UK]J. Taylor ‘An Armado’ in Works (1869) I 77: Looking through a hempen window at St. Thomas Waterings.