The New Newgate Calendar

Blogs about the history of crime, justice and punishment

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On this date in 1801, a luckless British messenger was hanged to a Tamarind tree during the Polygar Wars. The Polygars — an English corruption of the Tamil word Palaiyakkarar — were feudal administrators in South India whose authorities t...
On this date in 1831, pirate Charles Gibbs hanged on Ellis Island. This Rhode Island native followed his father’s trade in buccaneering and made an adventurously brutal life on the waves during the early 19th century’s brief piracy recr...
The second half of the workshop was devoted to work in progress and plans for the Digital Panopticon – I’ll say less about these than those in part 1 because longer versions should be appearing (or have already appeared) here on the blog!
On this date in 1975, Sisowath Sirik Matak was executed with his aides by the Khmer Rouge. As a young royal in French-administered Cambodia, Sirik Matak had had a shot to be selected as king in 1941. Instead, that dignity went to Norodom Sihanouk ...

The Crime of Suicide

21 April 2014
A woman diagnosed as suffering from melancholia with fear, or fear of everything, and with a propensity to attempt suicide (Wellcome Library, London) Suicide was a crime in England and Wales until 1961 (when the Suicide Act was passed). Originally, i...
On this date in 1963, Francisco Franco’s government shot Communist agitator Julian Grimau. Grimau (English Wikipedia entry | Spanish), a member of the Communist Party of Spain‘s Central Committee since 1959, had fled to exile after escapi...
A Negro man named Emanuel, who has been for some time past, advertised runaway from Samuel Kemp, was taken up at sea near Hyburn Key, in a failing boat, belonging to the brig Eliza, Stuart, in the beginning of last week, and brought to town. He has s...
The trailblazing Italian-British photographer Felice (Felix) Beato was one of the first people to shoot in east Asia. In 1858, he captured the aftermath of the 1857 “Sepoy Rebellion” in India (with possibly the first photography of corpse...
The first half of the workshop consisted of speakers we invited to introduce the ways in which they have used visualisation in research, and look at how these could be useful to the Digital Panopticon and researchers attending the event. I’ve...
On this date in 1954, Lucretiu Patrascanu was shot in Jilava Prison outside Bucharest. The widow’s-peaked longtime pol was one of the first inductees of the Romanian Communist Party (PCR) after its 1921 founding. Patrascanu (English Wikipedia e...
The City of Gloucester was a county in its own right from 1483, separate from the county of Gloucestershire, and as such, it had its own court sessions and its own prisons. Until the 1780s, city prisoners were held in the north gate, while the east g...
(Thanks to Robert Elder of Last Words of the Executed — the blog, and the book — for the guest post. This post originally appeared on the Last Words blog. Fans of this here site are highly likely to enjoy following Elder’s own pithy...
Originally posted on Criminal Historian: The view from my seat at the DP data visualisation workshop Yesterday, I went to All Souls College, Oxford, for a data visualisation workshop organised by the Digital Panopticon project. The project – a c...
I have been reading several historical novels of late; a recent blog considered three examples. http://www.guywoolnough.com/historical-novels-accuracy-vs-literary-merit/ Then I came across this comment by Kate Atkinson, in ‘Author note’ at the en...
The view from my seat at the DP data visualisation workshop Yesterday, I went to All Souls College, Oxford, for a data visualisation workshop organised by the Digital Panopticon project. The project – a collaboration between the Universities of...
On this date in 1793, Philibert Francois Rouxel de Blanchelande was guillotined in Paris — victim of two revolutions an ocean apart. Blanchelande (English Wikipedia entry | French) was a comfortable henchmen of the ancien regime, descended of a...
I’d forgotten I had done this, but I did a quick list for Buzzfeed (on its community section). So to see my list of 15 punishments we used to think were acceptable, click here. Not an in-depth look at crime and punishment, but an, um, lighter...

1922: George Hornsby

14 April 2014
On this date in 1922, George Hornsby was hanged in Belton, Texas. We pick up the George Hornsby’s trail 18 months before his execution, when the bludgeoned body of car dealer J.N. Weatherby was discovered outside Brownwood, Texas, on October 19...

1923: Paul Hadley

13 April 2014
(Thanks to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project for the guest post. -ed.) On this day in 1923, Paul V. Hadley was executed for murder in Arizona. His story, however, actually begins on March 20, 1916, when Paul Hadley and his wife Ida Lee — fugi...
On this date in 1776, footpad James Langar was hanged at Tyburn for robbing a Hyde Park gentleman of his watch and coat. Actually, and despite a reputation for honesty attested by his fellow militiamen, Langar was implicated in several highway robber...
Once again, the standard of papers at the Social History Society conference impressed those who attended. I can only comment on those which I heard. As is so often the case, topics which I might have considered peripheral to my areas of interest pro...
On this date, the conservative Mexican Gen. Leonardo Marquez earned himself the nickname “Tiger of Tacubaya” for the mass execution of liberal prisoners after a battle in Mexico’s Reform War. The “reform” warred-over is...
On this date in 1813, the Napoleonic forces occupying Oldenburg, Germany shot Albrecht Ludwig von Berger and Christian Daniel von Finckh as rebels. The Duchy of Oldenburg in northwest Germany could date its history back to the 12th century — bu...
Profiling the alienists – I: John Conolly, Superintendent of Hanwell Lunatic Asylum - nemesis of mechanical restraint John Conolly M.D. is commonly held to be one of the pioneers of moral management – the gentler, more humane system for treating...
On this date in 1812, the great Cuban revolutionary leader “Black” Jose Aponte was executed with eight comrades. Like South Carolina’s Denmark Vesey, Aponte led a slave revolt but was not actually a slave himself. Instead, he was a...
In regards to crime in the 1800’s hanging days actually meant big crowds and big business. Audiences of up to 100,000 were occasionally claimed in London, and of 30,000 or 40,000 quite often. Crowds of 3,000 – 7,000 were considered standard. When...
On this date in 1642, George Spencer paid the penalty at the New Haven (Connecticut) colony for a pig-fucking that he probably never perpetrated. Seven and a half weeks previous, a farmer named John Wakeman had reported to magistrates that his pregna...
Criminal Historian:My guest post for the Old Bailey Online/London Lives blog Crime in the Community. Originally posted on Crime in the Community: “Old Woman Eating” by Quiringh Van Brekelenkam (Google Art Project) Leah Wilkinson was described a...
Here’s some advice to anyone considering pilfering a vegetable in the 1770s – don’t. Richard Burn offered this advice (left) to magistrates dealing with anyone who had stolen a turnip, cabbage or similar, from 1776. It was a crime s...
Leah Wilkinson was described as a ‘notorious old offender’ by the Navy in 1712. She had a long career as a forger and con-woman – with known criminal offences being committed over a 30 year duration. She made a living … Continue reading &...
On this date in 1979, just days after a referendum overwhelmingly voted revolutionary Iran an Islamic Republic, its former Prime Minister was convicted by a drumhead tribunal in Qasr Prison. Minutes after the trial closed, he was shot to death in a p...
On this date in 1571, the Archbishop of St. Andrews hanged in his clerical vestments at the Mercat Cross in Stirling. John Hamilton‘s fate was tied up in that of his Romish church during the strife-wearied years of Queen Mary. There was a sure...
The American occupation of the Philippines from 1899 spawned a widespread indigenous resistance whose “hatred of our people is as bitter as it is groundless,” one American general puzzled. Not all Americans saw it that way. William Jennin...

1884: Henry Rose

4 April 2014
Special dispatch to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat (April 5, 1884), which perhaps accounts for the outsized interest in the provenance of the rope. MEMPHIS, TENN., April 4. — Henry Rose was hanged to-day at noon at Osceola, the county seat of Mi...
In January 1823, the Gloucester Journal reported that the County Prison had installed a treadmill. Gloucester Prison, like many other similar institutions, had found it difficult to find suitable work for prisoners sentenced to do hard labour as...
On this date in 2003, the state of Oklahoma executed Scott Hain for a Tulsa carjacking that netted $565 and two dead bodies. The Hain that was strapped down on the gurney that evening was a 32-year-old with a nebbishy middle manager look, high forehe...

In Deep Water

2 April 2014
On 19 May 1844, my 3x great-grandfather, Thomas Willoughby aged 54, attempted to take his own life by throwing himself into …Continue reading →
The wonderful blog Ghosts of D.C. calls our attention (via SanhoTree) to a fabulously gruesome botched hanging in the nation’s capital on this day in 1880. Stone was condemned for a brutal double-throat-slashing attack on his estranged wife, Al...
By rmay 28 June 2009. The law relating to orders to ‘keep the peace’ was enshrined in English law in the fourteenth century,[1]although the notion is of Anglo-Norman origin,[2]and is little changed 650 years later. A person can be bound by a...
During the 19th century more than 165,000 criminals prosecuted in Britain and Ireland were eventually transported to Australia. In most cases this was due to the steep rise of convicts causing overcrowding in the majority of British prison systems bu...
A year ago today, three Persian Gulf states made the news for their April 1 executions. Iraq Iraq four people on April 1, 2013 for terrorism-related offenses, including Munaf Abdul Rahim al-Rawi. This onetime al-Qaeda figure once styled the “go...
An edition of the Old Bailey Proceedings The Old Bailey Proceedings are a rich historical resource, almost unimaginably so. They constitute the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published. Words alone can’t quite do...
“Gleaning” by Arthur Hughes Gleaning was a right of the poor up to the late 18th century, under common law. After a farmer had harvested his crops, local people could gather any leftovers, providing a useful supplement to a family’s...
The Truk Atoll, in Micronesia, is more commonly known today as Chuuk. It’s a hot diving location notable for the many sunken World War II Japanese hulks to be explored there — the legacy of its once-pivotal position in the Pacific War. Ja...
On this date in 1875, a private named John Morgan was hanged for murdering his fellow. The London Times reported the trial (March 12, 1875: Morgan did not outlive his victim by so much as a month) thus: THE SHORNCLIFFE MURDER Home Circuit. Maidstone,...
On this date in 1875, artilleryman Richard Coates (or “Coote”) was hanged for murder. He’d been detailed as a schoolteacher for the Purfleet garrison. One day deep into his cups, he raped a 6-year-old* girl. And then killed her by b...
For the next two days, we draw a pair of odd cases from the ranks of Her Majesty’s men at arms. Recently spooked by debacles in the Crimean War and a barely-suppressed Indian mutiny — both of which strained the army’s entire manpowe...
Yesterday, I was re-reading Bernard Capp’s excellent 2003 book When Gossips Meet: Women, Family, and Neighbourhood in Early Modern England, and tweeted out a few examples he gives of the ‘lexicon of synonyms’ employed by women and...
In 1954, the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama hired as its pastor a 25-year-old fresh out of Boston University’s doctoral program. In his memoir, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. remembered his entry to civil rights activism in Mo...

The Alienists

27 March 2014
THE ALIENISTS ARRIVE It is difficult to say when the alienists – OED: "A psychiatrist who assesses the competence of a defendant in a law court" – first appeared in the crime and insanity debates. Key figures and ideas had certainly emerged at th...