"you'd complain if you were hung with a new rope"


I mentally pronounced it byoots.

No, see, I was making a joke too. You were supposed to laugh. But thank you for the unnecessary lecture. :wink:

Are you from Montana?

To get back to the OP’s question, Mary Surrat was the first woman to be executed, and it is documented that she indeed complained about the ropes that were used to bind her…

It was 1865 and she and her son had conspired to kill Abraham Lincoln. They were the most famous mother-son criminal partnership at the time. She, her son, and John Wilkes Booth had a plan to kidnap Lincoln and exchange the president for Confederate prisoners of war, or perhaps barter Lincoln for an honorable peace between North and South.

But Wikipedia, which also documents her complaints, says that her arms and lugs were bound by white cloth, not ropes. Having said all that, I’m not sure if that’s the origin of the term or not, but she was very famous, there were many people present for the execution, and perhaps the quote got distorted.

Here is what Wikipedia says…

To all that offered factual information on my question, thank you.
I had already found the information others posted, even the part about ‘boiling the rope’.
Looks like it’s just one of those sayings whose origins are lost, in the ‘mists of time’.

As for the rest of you jokers. :rolleyes:
JK :wink:

It basically seems a paradoxical / nonsense thing, taken “either way” – perhaps in the second sense, even more off-the-wall than the first: with the victim being accused of acting like a hard-to-please spoilt kid, even with the fact that the use of a new rope is not a compliment, but something which will make the experience nastier still. This second sense of the expression reminds me of the Australianism, “You’d whinge if your arse was on fire.” I saw that quoted as part of a conversational exchange between the Australian who came out with the saying, and his British audience. The Brits protested that it was a foolish thing to say: if one’s arse were on fire, that would be a distressing situation about which one would have every right and reason to whinge. Mutual exasperation ensued: the Aussie annoyed with the Brits for “not getting it”, the Brits just regarding the Aussie as rather strange.

I’d complain if I were Johnny Wadd.

If I were Johnny Wadd I’d have no complaints, having died in 1988.

As to the OP, I’d never heard the phrase before, but I like it!

Did you know there was a movie about him?: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0462477/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

Just please don’t tell us that you’re now itching to hand down the death penalty to someone so you can say it in court.

EDIT: That was a good movie too, Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman.

Nah. Tempting, but I haven’t handled a capital case in years and years.

Two old courthouse sentencing jokes:

  • A judge sentences a young defendant to a very long sentence and says, “Your probation officer hasn’t been born yet.”

  • A judge sentences an elderly white-collar defendant to a very long sentence. The defendant says, in a quavery voice, “Your Honor, I’m an old man. I’ll never live to serve that entire sentence.”

The judge replies, not unkindly, “Well, just do your best.”

I don’t know how to start a new comment so I’m going off yours and yes I know this is an old topic. In the south we say hung regardless what is proper-we have our own language here.
Biled shirt is a clean dress shirt which is always white but can be any color I suppose
Butes are boots
Bar’s ile is most likely a typo and should be a bar’s of lye soap ( we add s’s on a lot too) So he can look as purty as he can
The phrase means someone who is never happy & complains about everything

Is that sort of like how soft drinks are always Coke but can be any flavor?

From a trawl through Trove, the Australian newspaper archive, a few local papers in 1875 picked up an article originally published in the San Francisco News relating to the execution of Tiburcio Vasquez, a California bandito.

The original article referred to then executioners getting the rope used to hang someone else earlier as an ironic ‘kindness’. May not have been the origin of the phrase but an early notable usage.

Grafton Argus and Clarence River General Advertiser 21 July 1875:5

If you open the Wikipedia page, you’ll immediately spot his link to modern popular culture.

I used to drive by the pop-culture connection twice a day.

In my opinion, “bar’s ile” is “bear’s oil”.

According to the Wiki page for pomade

In the 19th century, bear fat was usually the main pomade ingredient. {edited for brevity—mbh} By the early 20th century, petroleum jelly,[5] beeswax, and lard were more commonly used.

My dad (born 1922) used Brylcreem, but he and my uncles always referred to it as “bear grease”.

I was a new employee at an office and a guy there tried to palm his work off on me. I was suspicious and informed my manager. The manager came out to the bullpen where we all sat and berated the “shirker”. When the boss walked away, all the other workers looked at me the shirker. Shirker shook his head and proclaimed, “You should be hung!”. I paused and replied “I am.”. Everyone started laughing, even the shirker.