The New Newgate Calendar

Blogs about the history of crime, justice and punishment

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Blogging carnivals, like those hosted by Sharon Howard, began to appear in the early 2000s. The carnivalesque is a suggestive way of thinking about the transformative potential of social media. By orchestrating multiple voices blogging has a levellin...
On this date in 1851, the domestic abuser John McCaffary (or McCaffrey) was publicly hanged in Kenosha, Wisconsin.* His crime — singularly ill-concealed — was a noisy row with his wife Bridgett that ended with him tipping her into a rain...
On this date in 1897,* anarchist Michele Angiolillo was garroted in Vergara prison for assassinating the Spanish Prime Minister. Angiolillo (English Wikipedia entry | Spanish) was an Italian expatriate in England who was so incensed by the procesos d...
On this date in 1738, the last victims of witch trials in the Lower Rhine were burned att the stake in Gerresheim, an ancient German city today subsumed by Düsseldorf. More eccentric than demoniacal, the sicky 14-year-old Helena Curtens reported hav...
This is a draft of the first part of a short article I’m writing on blogging the history of crime. It’s for a special issue of the online journal Law, Crime & History which will examine on-going discussions at the Our Criminal Past n...
At some point around August 476 — the exact date(s) lost to history — the deposed Eastern Roman Emperor Basiliscus was executed most cruelly with his family. But having himself played for power with ruthlessness to equal his rivals, Basil...
Waterloo Bridge, 1828 London in the first decades of the nineteenth century had literally been enlightened; gas now helped illuminate even some of the dark streets south of the river.  It was on the edge of the glow of one of the new lamps on the So...
(Thanks to Harry Brodribb Irving for the guest post, originally published in his Book of Remarkable Criminals. Some formatting has been adjusted for readability. -ed.) In the May of 1874, in the town of Montpellier, M. Boyer, a retired merchant, some...

1883: Ah Yung

16 August 2014
(Thanks to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project for the guest post. -ed.) On this day in 1883, Chinese immigrant Ah Yung, aka Ah Kee, was hanged in Missoula, Montana. As Tom D. Donovan notes in his book Hanging Around The Big Sky: The Unofficial Guide...
Three centuries ago today, Wallachian prince Constantine Brancoveanu was beheaded in Istanbul with his four sons. Brancoveanu (English Wikipedia entry | Romanian) had fallen foul of the Sublime Porte, which dominated Wallachia, by dallying with the O...
The staff of HMP Brixton, December 1973. John Aston is the furthest right. The prison service has a close association with the military – many members of staff are ex-forces.  It is a tradition which goes as far back as when Brixton opened in...
‘prison is the best school of crime which we possess’ (Jerome Caminada, 1901) I’ve been very much enjoying the 2-part …Continue reading →
On this date in 1793, Walter Clark was executed for burglary at Morpeth, with one Margaret Dunn. Clark rates a mention in the spirit of the apple not falling far from the tree: a year before Clark’s conviction and hanging, his two daughters Jan...
One hundred fifty years ago today, Barney Gibbons was executed by musketry by the Civil War Union army in St. Louis, Missouri. Gibbons was among the many soldiers in that chaotic war who in the time before identity cards and omnipresent databases des...
On this day fifty years ago, the last hangings in the UK took place. To mark this anniversary, here’s Criminal Historian’s list of key dates in the history of execution in Britain. William Calcraft, from Irregular Shed’s Flickr page 4 April...

The Caring Magistrate

12 August 2014
John Ivatt Briscoe was one of the magistrates of Surrey – the men who had commissioned – and were ultimately in charge of – the prison at Brixton.  He was a person of probity and compassion who was a regular visitor to the gaol and...
New York’s electric chair handled record traffic on this date in 1912: seven successive electrocutions. The first two men committed unrelated and isolated crimes. John Collins got drunk and started firing a pistol in his Manhattan apartment. P...
(Thanks to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project for the guest post. -ed.) On this date in 1838, a teenage slave girl named Mary was hanged in Crawford County, Missouri. She had murdered Vienna Jane Brinker, a white child two weeks short of her second...
Atop a hill called steng Cross at the Northumberland village of Elsdon stands an eerie heirloom of England’s gallows history: Winter’s Gibbet. (Or “Winter’s Stob”, to use the local parlance.) (cc) image from Flickr user...

Brixton Purgatory

9 August 2014
Brixton Purgatory published with the permission of the City of London It was Brixton that made the treadmill famous.  This particularly sadistic form of prison punishment had first been introduced at the gaol in Bury St Edmunds in 1819, but was not...
Cultural change and technological change are linked in complex ways. We are currently facing the cultural implications of the exponential growth of digital technology. I do not know how parents in 2014 can monitor their children’s online social...
On this date in 1849, the German revolutionary Friedrich Neff was shot at Freiburg. A law and philosophy student, Neff had been one of the firebrands of the Baden incarnation of Germany’s 1848 Revolutions. These stirrings for political liberali...
Letters to the editors of Victorian newspapers are often fascinating insights into the minds of our 19th century forebears. This one, from 1842, caught my attention – from the self-titled Flagellator (whose name should give you an immediate ind...
On this date in 1570, the English Catholic martyr John Felton suffered hanging, disemboweling, and quartering at St. Paul’s Churchyard in London for the Old Faith. Not to be confused with the 17th century assassin of the same name, our John Fel...
An interim post to say sorry for the lack of a new piece - and some news by way of an explanation. My new book, Bloody British History: Salisbury (published by The History Press) is out now, meaning my time is currently spent in radio interviews, boo...
On this date in 2009, China executed Li Peiying, the former chairman of a vast airport conglomerate that managed, among many others, Beijing Capital International Airport. Li was convicted on corruption charges that netted £11 million in bribes...
‘Life should mean life’ is a popular adage that you might overhear in a pub, on public transport, even in the queue at the supermarket. It is hard to judge how widely, or sincerely, held this belief is – but it is certainly one that most of us...
On August 6, 1788, “John and Robert Winter, the father and son, were executed at Morpeth, pursuant to their sentence, for breaking open the house of William Charlton, esq., of Hesleyside. As they had lived for many years in a course of the most...
Thieving in Bloody Code England was quite often a family affair. For a few scattered posts this August we will revisit an extended clan of vagabond Northumberland robbers (and sometimes worse than robbers) who in the 1780s and 1790s broke with one an...

Slow Blogging

5 August 2014
I did not set out to blog slowly. Today the blogosphere is one of the most productive and inspiring places for writers and researchers to think and work. For historians, like me, and scholars of all varieties, it’s a space for the rapid exchange of...
On 30 March 1896, a bargeman was navigating his cargo down the River Thames at Reading, just past Caversham Lock. As …Continue reading →
From 7 to 8 p.m. on the evening of August 5, 1943 the Fallbeil at Plotzensee Prison destroyed 17 members of the Berlin Red Orchestra resistance circle. We have touched previously on Die Rote Kapelle in the context of the first 11 executions that clai...
I think about my grandfather every day.  Not surprising as I’m currently writing a book about him.   However, as he served in the British Expeditionary Force during the latter stages of the Great War, the 100th Anniversary of Britain’s...
There’s a good chance that you experience an unpleasant degree of performance pressure from time to time in your environs, whatever they might be. Lord knows even the executioner is not immune to it. But it’s doubtful very many are under...
It was 21 May 1766, a Wednesday, and Sarah Mayes was tired. She and her husband, Arthur, had been travelling from Cheltenham to their home in Chipping Campden, in Gloucestershire, and they were exhausted. They had only travelled around three miles, b...
On this date in 1530, Francesco Ferruccio (or just Ferrucci) and his executioner Fabrizio Maramaldo clinched their immortality at the Battle of Gavinana. The battle was the tragic final scene of the War of the League of Cognac, in which an alliance o...
On this date in 2005, U.S. journalist Stephen Vincent was abducted off the streets of Basra by a Shia militia. Before the day was out, he had been extrajudicially executed on the outskirts of town — along with his assistant and translator, who...
On this date in 1548, the Calvinist evangelist Robert de Lievre — better known by his nom de prosélytisme Seraphin d’Argences, or as Antoine Deschamps — was burned at Paris’s Place Maubert. According to their hagiographies,...
With the look of an American Wild west gunslinger, convicted felon John Quinn, alias Thompson, maintains his poise in front of …Continue reading →
On this date in 1868, the Ottoman Turks executed Bulgarian revolutionary Stefan Karadzha. Karadzha was one of several nationalist cheta (guerrilla) leaders aspiring to father the future sovereign Bulgaria. Operating from adjacent, and conveniently in...
On this date in 1746,* the English Jacobite Francis Towneley was hanged, drawn and quartered at London’s Kennington Park. This Lancashire Catholic had relocated residence and loyalty to France at age 19 in 1728, and fought in that country’...
On this date in 1938, the Soviet intelligence agent Janis Berzin(s) was shot in the basement of Moscow’s Lubyanka Prison. A Latvian radical back to Riga’s chapter of the 1905 revolution,* Berzins became a trusted associate of Lenin in exi...
The June issue of the English Historical Review contains a very fine review of The Most Remarkable Woman in England which is all the more enjoyable because it was written by Adrian Bingham, who is not only one of the leading historians of the twenti...
We’re delighted that our quest to take over the entire known universe of the history of crime continues with a panel session at this year’s British Crime Historians Symposium: The Digital Panopticon: New perspectives on criminal justice r...
On this date in 1938, Soviet playwright Vladimir Kirshon was shot at the Kommunarka “special object” shooting range outside Moscow. Kirshon (English Wikipedia entry | Russian), purged as a “Trotskyist counter-revolutionary” as...
Most any sequence of days on the calendar would do for capturing Soviet citizens destroyed in Stalin’s terrible purges of the late 1930s. There are, of course, the great names — Zinoviev, the Old Bolshevik senior to Stalin; the Red Army M...
Thursday 30 January 1840 Somberly, Miss Martin calls the two little boys to her. Tomorrow their thirty day sentence will be up and they will leave her charge. Since their boisterous cellmates departed last weekend, the hours have slipped by slowly wi...
“Who ME? Eavesdrop? Never!” A bit of eavesdropping never did anybody any harm, did it? We’ve all done it. A chance conversation that next door have a bit too loudly in their back garden; an argument between two lovers at the next ta...
On this date in 1973, former cabaret star Mimi Wong Weng Siu and her husband Sim Woh Kum were hanged for the murder of Wong’s Japanese lover’s wife. “Overwhelmed by a consuming jealousy” (her prosecutor’s words) for Hiro...
On this date in 1847, the execution of Maya leader Manuel Antonio Ay in Valladolid kicked off the Yucatan’s decades-long Caste War. Under Spanish administration, Mexico had a dizzying 16-tiered racial caste hierarchy. The casta system was offic...