British in India: The History’s Most BRUTAL Execution Method

Some of the most brutal execution practices include being chopped in the middle, hanged, drawn, and quartered, and in Asia, they even used elephants to stomp condemned people to death. Chopping a person in the middle was an execution method used in ancient China. It was so brutal that later the emperor decided to put a pause.

Even certain places’ names evolved as synonymous with execution such as the Tower of London where three Queens of England were executed on Tower Green losing their heads.

Man being blown by gun

But there was a method of execution that is most well known for being used by British Colonials in India and it was wholly barbaric and would have led to someone being quite literally blown to bits. Blowing from a gun was where a cannon was used, but on the end of the barrel was someone who was condemned to death.

The victim is typically tied to the mouth of a cannon which is then fired.


The prisoner would generally be tied to a gun with the upper part of the small of his back resting against the muzzle.

Man about to be blown by gun

Then, the gun would be fired, his head would be seen to go straight up into the air some forty or fifty feet, the arms would fly off right and left, high up in the air, and fall at, perhaps, a hundred yards distance, the legs would drop to the ground beneath the muzzle of the gun, and the body would be literally blown away altogether, not a vestige being seen.

It was mostly used by the British though the method dates back to Portuguese explorer Francisco de Almeida, who executed a number of people in 1509 using the method.

When the Britisher went over to conquer places like India, it was used to execute rebels during rebellions such as the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The British would execute sepoys who would desert or aid rebellions, and they used the old Mughal punishment of lowing from a cannon to punish others.

The British would execute sepoys who would desert or aid rebellions, and they used the old Mughal punishment of lowing from a cannon to punish others. In March 1764, a native officer planned to get people to defect to an enemy force and with this, he was blown by a gun in front of his soldiers.

More examples continued as the decades rolled on, and in 1798 a mutiny amongst British Soldiers broke out, and the British executed one of their own soldiers by blowing them from a canon. This is the only example of a European being blown from a gun by the British.

The execution method was usually used alongside other public punishments such as flogging, and it had a profound effect on those who were summoned to watch the execution.

In 1871, 65 members of the Sikh sect Kukas were also executed by the British, by being blown from guns.

When comparing methods of execution, blowing from a gun has to be up there as one of the most dangerous and distressing to have witnessed. The British used it in India to send a clear message to any possible rebels or deserters to fall into line with their colonial rule.

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