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Women and the Gallows 1797 – 1837 (Hardback)

Unfortunate Wretches

P&S History > British History > Georgian History P&S History > Social History P&S History > True Crime Women of History

By Naomi Clifford
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 236
Illustrations: 16
ISBN: 9781473863347
Published: 2nd November 2017



Guest Blog

Check out Naomi Clifford's guest blog post for the British Newspaper Archive

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131 women were hanged in England and Wales between 1797 and 1837, executed for crimes including murder, baby-killing, theft, arson, sheep-stealing and passing forged bank notes. Most of them were extremely poor and living in desperate situations. Some were mentally ill. A few were innocent. And almost all are now forgotten, their voices unheard for generations.

Mary Morgan – a teenager hanged as an example to others.
Eliza Fenning – accused of adding arsenic to the dumplings.
Mary Bateman – a ‘witch’ who duped her neighbours out of their savings.
Harriet Skelton – hanged for passing counterfeit pound notes in spite of efforts by Elizabeth Fry and the Duke of Gloucester to save her.

Naomi Clifford has unearthed the events that brought these ‘unfortunates’ to the gallows and has used contemporary newspaper accounts and documents to tell their stories.

A very detailed exploration of the Regency's criminal systems and the many flaws it contained. Read the complete review here

Good Reads - Alethea

The author provides a brief synopsis of the crimes and executions of each woman. Many were convicted of infanticide and five were hanged for arson. But the heart of the book is more than a dozen case studies of better-known or representative cases.

Click here to read the full review

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September 2018 – reviewed by Dean Jobb

Vlog review as featured online here.

Lil's Vintage World, YouTube

Clifford lists all the female hangings in these 40 years, with a brief note on each and considers 20 of them in greater depth. Like searchlights, they light up corners of Georgian society which are otherwise hidden from history.

Historical Novels Review

Women And The Gallows by Naomi Clifford is horrifying and heart-wrenching real-life accounts of 131 women who were executed in England between 1797-1837. This was a time when stealing could result in the death penalty, and often women seemed to be singled out for the harshest of punishment while men were deported to Australia or given a reprieve. It’s a sad but fascinating read, and I would highly recommend it.

Read the complete review online here.

What Are Writers Reading? Blog

The story of how this "respectable young woman [Eliza], convicted on circumstantial evidence" - including some fanciful chemistry - fell prey to prejudice and misogyny is exemplary of Naomi Clifford's plain yet affecting style and preoccupations in this sober ans sensible book aimed at a general readership.

Times Literary Supplement, 22nd June 2018 – reviewed by Min Wild

Author article: 'Death and the Bank' as featured by

Jane Austen's Regency World, May/June 2018

This is a highly readable look at some women, some crimes, and, more particularly, at the mores of the last decades of the Georgian era. It’s well written and well researched.

Ripperologist, February/March 2018 – reviewed by Paul Begg

A fascinating read.

Cotswold Life, April 2018

★★★★★ A brilliantly researched document for our times.

Read the complete review here.

Amazon, Beatrice Parvin

This is a very well written book that really explores the historical and social background of all the 131 women hanged in England and Wales between 1797 and 1837. Naomi Clifford has used contemporary newspaper reports and documents to research these cases, so we can see them through the "eyes of the time."

Read the complete review here.

Amazon, Richard Clark

A useful insight into women’s criminal acts and the response to these in the period covered.

Read the complete review here.

Rosie Write's Blog, Rosemarie Cawkwell

Article: 'For her latest book, Naomi Clifford researched executed female felons – here, she tells us about her sources, and the stories they revealed ' as featured in

Your Family History, February 2018

As featured in

Ripperologist, December 2017 – January 2018

This fascinating and sobering book documents the circumstances of women sentenced to death by hanging from 1797 to 1837...

Read the complete ★★★★ review here.

Brooke Weber, GoodReads

Clifford's book gives detailed accounts of a selection of cases, and a summary of all the women who faced the gallows between 1797 and 1837.

Well-researched and presented in a readable narrative, the book touches on a wide range of themes, such as mental health, motherhood, social class and the history of criminal justice. These unusual 'micro-histories' provided a fascinating insight into women's lives at the turn of the 19th century, especially of those who fell foul of the law.

WDYTYA? February 2018 – reviewed by Angela Buckley

Read it for: Varied accounts of female criminality, drawn from a wealth of archival sources.

Your Family History, January 2018

★★★★★ A fascinating read - highly recommended.

Read the complete review here.

Amazon Customer

★★★★★ A superbly written book, with an exquisite eye for detail.

Read the complete review here.

Amazon Customer

As featured in

True Crime Library, Bulletin 449

About Naomi Clifford

Naomi Clifford mines old newspapers for glimpses of everyday Georgian life for her blog naomiclifford.com and has been researching 18th-century elopements and abductions for the past four years. She has also written These Were Our Sons: Stories from Stockwell War Memorial, published under the name Naomi Lourie Klein. She is a former journalist and lives in London.

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