WOMEN AND THE GALLOWS 1797-1837: Unfortunate Wretches

WOMEN AND THE GALLOWS 1797-1837: Unfortunate Wretches

NAOMI CLIFFORD     Book Number: 91873    Product format: Hardback

By the middle of the 18th century there were 160 capital crimes, many of them reflecting the period's obsession with protecting property. You could be hanged for stealing goods worth five shillings, or, famously, for impersonating a Chelsea Pensioner. The author lists all the female victims of hanging in this period with a brief account of the charges against them, and she describes in detail the lives, alleged crimes and deaths of 20 of them. Of the 131 women hanged in the 40 years covered by this book, 91 were charged with murder or attempted murder, 23 for deceptions such as forgery or passing off forged documents, others for stealing and arson. The records make it clear that sometimes these women were acting under severe mental pressure, and some were almost certainly innocent. Insanity was a valid defence, in which case the woman would be consigned to an asylum, but evidence of previous erratic behaviour was required. Eliza Fenning was hanged for attempted murder by arsenic, and while it seems certain that arsenic poisoning took place in the family where she was in service, Eliza was hanged on the strength of her being able to read the label on the arsenic container. Mary Bateman, on the other hand, was undoubtedly guilty of running a quack medicine racket, extorting money for the exorcisms performed by "Miss Blythe", an imaginary and expensive medium from Scarborough, and adapting and improving a variety of scams as she became more proficient, one of which led to the death of Rebecca Perigo. Esther Hibner was effectively a slave-owner, two of whose apprentices died of neglect, while Sarah Price was the last woman to be hanged on forgery charges, in her case for passing a forged one-pound note. Includes chapters on baby murder among domestic servants, and husband poisoning. 236pp, chronology, photos.
Published price: £19.99
Bibliophile price: £7.50

Additional product information

ISBN 9781473863347
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