Filed under true crime

Market Fraudsters

Sale of goods in open markets was seen as a means of ensuring fair trading – the goods were in clear sight, they could be investigated, but there were many scams to cheat this system. I have read of butter being sold that had a core of lard with only a surface of butter around … Continue reading

Protecting Poor From Fraud

Eighteenth century England was riven with class differences, and the only people with a good education were those with wealth and with this came responsibility for protecting those less fortunate. Preventing the poor from being conned was not purely altruistic; if a person lost all their money to a con artist, they risked losing their … Continue reading

How Old and Ugly Were Witches?

I have always worried at the bad images we have of witches, especially those who were punished for their ‘crimes’. The image of an ugly, isolated old woman just doesn’t seem to fit many of the cases, in particular the famous Pendle witches. The old hags seem more cartoon characters. Many pamphlets and ballads were … Continue reading

A Poisoner Burned At The Stake

Burning a woman alive is generally associated with witches, but they were more commonly hanged in England. But it was the punishment for a woman killing her husband, who as a superior creature was deemed an act of treason rather than mere murder. This is a letter from ‘Ivelchester’ [ie Ilchester] published in the Bristol … Continue reading

Junger on Mass Killings

This is another piece from the book Tribe On Homecoming and Belonging by award winning journalist Sebastian Junger: The ultimate act of disaffiliation isn’t littering or fraud, of course, but violence against your own people. When the Navajo Nation … were rounded up and confined to a reservation in the 1860s, a terrifying phenomenon became … Continue reading

A Retriever Pays his Way

This is from the Scandal mongering IllustratedPolice News of 1892: A SAGACIOUIS RETRIEVER At the Lambeth Police court, Frederick Hampton, 45, fishmonger, and Emily his wife, residing at London rd, Croydon, were charged before Mr Biron with stealing and receiving a silk umbrella, value 7s 6d, the property of Louisa Squire. the complainant, on the … Continue reading

The Sanctuary of St John of Beverley

This is from Highways & Byways in Yorkshire, The kindness of St. John towards all criminals was not exercised only in his church, but extended for a full mile into the open country on every side;and evil men, however stained with blood, even if it were the blood of priests, could not be seized by … Continue reading

The Hand of Glory

I’ve never herd of this before, though I’ve had the Bloody Hand of Ulster pointed out to me in a few old buildngs. This is from Highways & Byways in Yorkshire, citing the Folklore Society “Wild and varied as I know the superstitions of my native country to be, I must plead guilty to some … Continue reading

The End of Hare the Bodysnatcher

Most people have heard about Burke and Hare the bodysnatchers and murderers, but I aways assumed they were both hanged. Not so! This is from Highways & Byways in The Border: Ettrick possesses no feature of interest but … in 1818 two harmless-looking hawkers with a cart were wont to call at intervals ostensibly to sell … Continue reading

Murder of Sir Anthony Darcy

This is from Highways & Byways on the Border: A little higher up the river than Blanerne we come to Broomhouse, where also once stood a castle In a field on this estate is a spot still called “Bawties’s Grave,” where the body Sir Anthony Darcy – “Le Sieur de la Beaute” – Warden of … Continue reading