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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Christmas Crime in the Victorian Era

The holidays of the late 1900s were often thought of as a time of cheer, but along with that cheer came Christmas crime in the Victorian Era. It was plentiful and resulted in anything but peace on earth. Perhaps, that was why the following Christmas card, although wishing Christmas cheer, displays a dead bird.

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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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William Corder and the Red Barn Murder

In 1827, 24-year-old William Corder committed a notorious murder when he shot his lover, the daughter of a mole-catcher, 26-year-old Maria Marten. The murder came to be known as the Red Barn Murder because it happened after Corder arranged to meet Marten at a local landmark in Polstead, Suffolk, England, called the red barn. Corder…

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Notorious Captain James Lowry

In 1750, a Scottish Captain named James Lowry was commanding a merchant shipped named the “Molly” from London to Jamaica and back again. Although he possessed agreeable features, he was a cruel captain, and it did not take long for his crew of 14 to despise him because of his cruelty. It happened during the…

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The Despard Plot, Trial, and Execution

Colonel Edward Marcus Despard was an Irish soldier who served in the British Army, and, during the American Revolutionary War, he and his troops were victorious at the Battle of the Black River. His success was part of the reason that he was later appointed Superintendent in British Honduras. However, in 1790, he was recalled…

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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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Execution of the Earl of Kilmarnock and Lord Balmerino

William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock and Arthur Elphinstone, 6th Lord Balmerino were taken prisoners at the Battle of Culloden, the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. Both men were tried and sentenced to death for treason. Their executions were carried out at Tower Hill on 18 August 1746. The event began at…

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Margaret Dickson was Executed, Survived, and Pardoned

Margaret (or Margret) Dickson was executed, survived, and pardoned, and because of it she was nicknamed “ill hangit Maggy Dickson.” Her story begins with her birth in Musselburgh, Scotland, near Edinburgh in 1702. When she was an adult, she married a fisherman and together they had several children. However, Dickson found herself practically single because…

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