|The Discovery as a prison ship|
Some months ago, I offered crime statistics for 1830s London.
One surprising statistic was the low number of executions. If you look at the original sentences, you see that hundreds of people were sentenced to death, for small crimes like stealing a loaf of bread or a handkerchief. However, very few of those convicted were hanged. A number would be pardoned, but in the majority of cases, the sentences were reduced, sometimes to a prison term, and sometimes to transportation to Australia.
But first the convicts would spend time on a prison hulk. If you’ve read Dickens’s Great Expectations, you’ve encountered the hulks and their denizens. Here’s a set of statistics from the February 1826 Annual Register.
Image: The Discovery as a Prison Ship at Deptford. Launched as a 10 gun sloop at Rotherhithe in 1789, it served as a convict hulk 1808-12 and 1820-34.