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Women and the Gallows 1797 – 1837 (Hardback)

Unfortunate Wretches

True Crime Social History Women of History Georgian Era

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

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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.

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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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On the morning of 20 March 1809, the woman who had earned herself the title of ‘The Yorkshire Witch’ was hanged upon York’s ‘New Drop’ gallows before an estimated crowd of 20,000 people. Some of those who came to see Mary Bateman die had travelled all the way from Leeds, many of them on foot, and many of them were doubtless the victims of her hoaxes and extortions. A consummate con-artist, Mary was extremely adept at identifying the psychological weaknesses of the desperate and poor who populated the growing industrial metropolis of Leeds at the turn of the nineteenth century. Exploiting…

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