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Tales from the Hanging Court
April 27, 2008 6:06 AM   Subscribe

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey has been posted (and double-posted) here before, but it's just been given a major upgrade that effectively turns it into a new site, with the addition of 100,000 new trial reports covering the period 1834 to 1913, and the full text of the Newgate Ordinary's Accounts reporting the confessions and last dying speeches of criminals sentenced to death. The thousands of human tragedies recorded in the trial reports (some famous, others forgotten) are fascinating and often deeply moving.
posted by verstegan (9 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is amazing, thank you so much for sharing!
posted by headspace at 6:24 AM on April 27, 2008


Addressing the prisoner, he desired her not to be anxious, because he hoped and believed that the recommendation of the jury (to which his own would be added) would be received with sympathy, and would be given effect to by the Home Secretary, to whom it would be forwarded. He was, however, obliged to pass upon her the only sentence which was permissible for the crime of which she had been found guilty—namely, the sentence of death.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:26 AM on April 27, 2008


What a fascinating resource! I'm favoriting this for later, because I know if I get started reading through it now, I'll get addicted and I won't get any housework done.
posted by amyms at 8:36 AM on April 27, 2008


Wow! This is great!
posted by miss tea at 8:38 AM on April 27, 2008


From May 1678:

"The first that came to his tryal, was a little boy , pretending not to be above ten years of age, for stealing a silver Salt of the value of ten pounds, out of a Goldsmith s shop . There were two other greater Thieves concerned with him, who having several Indictments against them, pleaded guilty to this and all other within the benefit of Clergy: They gave aim and directions, and this little Mercury did the Feat; for which he was found guilty , but in pity to his age, he was onely burnt in the Hand ."

Awwwww. T'was onely burnt in the Hand! Little bugger got off easy on that one...

Also:

"Then three lusty young fellows were tryed for two several Robberies on the Highway, but of that baser kind called the Foot pad. One was on a person passing on foot through King Harries Walk , whom they set upon, beat, took from him about five shillings, all that he had about him, and then flung him into a Ditch and bound him .

The other was on a Butcher on horse-back , who riding home with his Wife behinde him, in the evening spied these three men lurking under a Tree, and endeavoured to turn his horse, but before he could get back, was beset; whereupon he alighted and run for it, and they after: In the mean time the Wife rides away to get help; but they overtaking him, take from him three pounds, binde him, and get away, but were all taken, one at London, and two at Newington, the next morning: and now both the persons swore directly and positively against them all three; whereupon they were Condemned .

'Tis observable these Robberies were done the last Execution-day at night, and it was proved these Prisoners were that day at Tyburn in a Coach; so little did the sad fight of their Fellow-Criminals wretched end affect them, that in defiance to Justice they went immediately from that Spectacle to act the same or like Crimes as had brought the others thereunto
."

It's interesting to note that the death penalty had the same "deterrent effect" in the 17th century as it does today, namely, none at all.
posted by Avenger at 8:57 AM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


A married woman lately living without Cripplegate , that appeared to be between 30 and 40 years of age, was arrigned, For that she having not the fear of God before her eyes, nor regarding the order of Nature, on the 23. of June last, to the disgrace of all womankind, did commit Buggery with a certain Mungril Dog, and wickedly, divellishly, and against nature had venerial and Carnal copulation with him, &c.

It was was proved that the Prisoner was a person of a lewd conversation, and lodging in a Room into which there were several holes to look in at from the next house, they had often seen her in the very acts of uncleanness with Villains that followed her; but one day one of the Witnesses (a young woman) happening to cast her eye in, saw her use such actions with a Dog as are not fit here to be recited: At which being amazed, she called up another woman, and after that a man, who all saw her several times practising this beastliness, and fully evidenced the same in Court, where the Dog was likewise brought, add being set on the Bar before the Prisoner, owned her by wagging his tail, and making motions as it were to kiss her, which 'twas sworn she did do when she made that horrid use of him.

For her self she had nothing to say, but denying the fact, alleadging it was mallice in the Witnesses, whichher Husband, who appeared in her behalf likewise suggested, but could not make out any quarrel or occasion of any such malice in the least; whereupon after full consideration of all circumstances she was brought in guilty .

There were in all Ten burnt in the hand this Sessions. Two Men and five Women received sentence of Death, amongst whom that Monster who prostituted her self to a Dog was one; the rest Incorrigible Thieves) and Three for petty crimes ordered to be Whipt.

posted by Astro Zombie at 9:51 AM on April 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


and lodging in a Room into which there were several holes to look in at from the next house, they had often seen her in the very acts of uncleanness with Villains that followed her; but one day one of the Witnesses (a young woman) happening to cast her eye in, saw her use such actions with a Dog as are not fit here to be recited: At which being amazed, she called up another woman, and after that a man, who all saw her several times practising this beastliness,

So this is what 17th century peep shows were like? HAWT.

I mean, c'mon. She just "happened" to "cast her eye in".
posted by Avenger at 10:10 AM on April 27, 2008


From the first of the "Ordinariy's" in 1690:

Afterwards the Penitential Psalm being sung, they were all turned off.

An interesting euphemism for execution--more fitting for a robot than a person.

Reading these is like watching an ancient episode of Cops.
posted by eye of newt at 11:15 AM on April 27, 2008


What do you do if you're midwife,can't get pregnant, and your man threatens to leave you? Why, use a dead baby!

Good thing the court could see the humor in it all...
posted by Harry at 1:59 PM on April 27, 2008


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