Crime and Criminals

The Executioner’s Rope of the 1700 and 1800s

The executioner’s rope of the 1700 and 1800s was one the hangman’s most important tools as no hanging could be accomplished without it. All executioners relied on a good rope, chief among them was William Marwood. He was known for having developed the hanging technique known as the “long drop.” It ensured a prisoner’s neck…

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Jack the Ripper’s Canonical Victims

Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly are considered Jack the Ripper’s canonical victims, so-called because their murders had the same pattern with the same modus operandi, and these five women are considered to be his officially accepted victims. The murders also happened in a relatively short period in…

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Burke and Hare: Two Edinburgh Murderers

William Burke and William Hare were two murderers who committed a series of sixteen murders in Edinburgh in 1828. Burke was probably the older of the two men as he had been born in 1792. His parents were middle class and he was born in Ulster province in Urney, Ireland. Burke had married but deserted…

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Wrong Doings of Married Women

In 1833, two English women — a Mrs. Emma Lush (wife to a groom employed by the Royal Family) and Mrs. Sarah Wolfe (a servant in a distinguished family) — decided to go on a shopping excursion. After making several purchases, they fell into the company of two strangers who prevailed upon them to accompany…

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The Treadmill for Punishment

The treadmill, sometimes called a tread wheel and designed for English prisons, was introduced by a nineteenth century civil engineer, Sir William Cubbitt, in 1818. It remained in use until the second half of the nineteenth century. Cubbitt invented it to generate power for mills in the neighboring vicinity. However, at least one infamous treadmill…

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Jacob Spinas and the Finsbury Murder

On the morning of 15 January 1870 the cry of murder was raised. Police were called to Buecker’s Hotel, on Christopher Street in Finsbury, where the constable arrested a porter named Jacob Spinas for murdering a woman whom he had brought into the hotel. The constable found the dead woman lying inside the bedroom next…

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