Thursday, September 29, 2016

Newgate Prison and Its Inmates in September 1819

Thursday, September 29, 2016
Newgate Prison—west view
Loretta reports:

My recent book, Dukes Prefer Blondes, features a barrister (trial lawyer) who’s familiar with Newgate Prison and the Old Bailey. As I researched the book, I was already aware that, during the Regency era (some years before my story) England had an extremely high number of capital offenses. According to Albion’s Fatal Tree, “The most recent account suggests that the number of capital statutes grew from about 50 to over 200 between the years 1688 and 1820.”*

As a consequence, we tend to believe that people were being hanged by the droves. What I learned was, people were hanged, yes, including children, but more often, mercy was sought and granted, and the sentence changed to transportation or prison. This may explain the rather shocking nil in the category “Convicts under sentence of death.” You will notice that, even though more men than women were convicted of crimes, more women were sentenced to transportation. At the moment, I can’t explain that one.

*Figures based on Sir Leon Radzinowicz, A History of English Criminal Law and its Administration from 1750.
Newgate Statistics 1819
Newgate Statistics 1819


5 comments:

CZEdwards said...

The likely reason more women were sentenced to transportation was because both places that were used as penal colonies (the North American Colonies and Australia) had large populations of men who were there for some value of voluntarily -- either earlier transportees whose sentences were complete but were not returning to Britain, or actually voluntary colonists. A functional colony that will exist on a paying basis in the future needs families who will rear children, and the colony itself will be much more peaceful and stable (and therefore cheaper to run) if they have a closer to equal gender balance. Also, transportation was sort of considered a means of giving the convicted a fresh start with a blank slate, and the social theory of the time tended to be more merciful to women and more likely to give them a second chance.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Yes, that's right. It was a very simple reason: not enough women for all those male convicts to marry, so they made sentences for women harsher, so they could have the excuse to transport them. By the way, it was perfectly possible to be transported here in chains and end up the respectable, well-off matron of a prosperous family. One of those was a young girl of about eleven, Mary Wade, transported for stealing underwear from another child in a public convenience, who settled down to have a lot of children and become the ancestress of one of our Prime Ministers, Kevin Rudd. )I found all this while researching a children's book on the history of crime in Australia.)

Shannon Langhart said...

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/the-lady-juliana-and-the-new-world/165/
This is a link to pbs show about the transportation of women because the men of the colonies wanted wives, I saw this years ago and found it quite fascinating.

Shannon Langhart said...

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/the-lady-juliana-and-the-new-world/165/
This is a link to pbs show about the transportation of women because the men of the colonies wanted wives, I saw this years ago and found it quite fascinating.

Angelina Barbin said...

That would also have been my guess as why the women were transported.

 
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