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Crime & Punishment

As noted in a post a couple of days ago, executions were a huge entertainment for the lower classes of London.  So too were the activities at the Old Baily.  Executions were held regularly as capital punishment was the sentence for many crimes.

As consumerism and affluence grows during the 18th Century a trend towards property offences keeps pace.  Judging by the sentences given for theft it appears that a paranoia of covetousness takes hold of the middling and upper classes.  Interestingly though the jury system develops a counter for the severity of punishments through “pious perjury”.  Offences were categorised by the value of the items in question and juries often devalued goods to lessen the punishment.  A good system if your are young, or handsome/pretty, or charming/persuasive, or a girl but not so good if you are old, unattractive or even mentally ill.  At the beginning of the century there was no practice of defence lawyers let alone a court appointed one so defendant had to plead their own cases. So often it was your personality that saved you.

The Stocks

 

  

The Gallows

 

Newgate Prison

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