Crime & Punishment Story Of London

Crime and Punishment: Introduction to the Series

Crime and Punishment: Introduction to the Series
by Bill McCann

London’s streets have always been crime-ridden. This series presents the tales of some of the individuals convicted of crimes, small and great, at the Middlesex and London assizes, Star Chamber, Court of Aldermen, etc. and their subsequent fate. Tyburn and Newgate are words that are resonant with the extremes of punishment in the 18th and 19th centuries and, naturally, both loom large in the series. However, there will also be articles on some of the more famous crimes in London’s more recent history.

Crime and Punishment

by Bill McCann
Find Newgate on the Map

All the mythologies of the world, which can be seen as the pseudo-histories of the peoples who wrote them, contain references to individuals who broke the rules or taboos of the societies into which they were born. In other words they committed crimes of various degrees of seriousness. The most serious has always and everywhere been considered the taking of the life of another human being outside of a religious or ritual context. The best known example of this in modern Western Civilisation comes from the Jewish mythology in the form of the biblical fratricide Cain.

Crime is as old as civilisation itself and wherever you find groups of people you will invariably find some form of criminal activity. You will also find punishment. The criminal has always been seen as undermining the values and, even, the very fabric of the society she or he betrays. Accordingly, those found out or found guilty have often been dealt with harshly. Again, the Jewish Mythology will spring to the Western mind with its mantra of an eye for an eye etc. Very often, to the modern western mind, the harshness of the penalty was far in excess of the gravity of the original offence. However, the prehistoric, medieval or even early modern people of western society did not enjoy the insights into human behaviour which modern society claims for itself. To them, the criminal was, quite simply, a threat to the order which was essential for the very existence of their society.

As society developed and the great cities of the world began to develop and expand so too did the criminal fraternity grow and expand. London was no exception and her streets have always been crime-ridden. In this major series we will be exploring this side of London by focusing on the individuals involved, their crimes and their treatment at the hands of the justice system under which they lived – and died. Depending, as it does, on actual records the series will be dominated by the tales of some of the individuals convicted of crimes, small and great, at the Middlesex and London assizes, Star Chamber, Court of Aldermen in the 18th and 19th centuries, but there will also be articles on individual criminals from earlier periods and from the 20th century.

The links in the list below are an index to the individual articles in the series To return to this index at any time click on the “Crime and Punishment” Banner at the top of each page. To scroll through all the entries follow the sequential links which you will find at the bottom of each page.

The details of many of the 18th and 19th century individuals are taken from the Complete Newgate Calendar by J.L. Rayner and G.T.Crook, and privately printed by the Navarre Society, 23 New Oxford Street, London WC1 in 1926. The complete edition is on-line at the University of Texas.

The Felons, their Deeds and their Various Fates

  1. Holloway and Haggarty. A Hundred Spectators were killed or injured in a Crush at the Execution of these Men before Newgate, 22nd of February, 1807.
  2. Captain Richard Dudley. A Companion of the Highway Man whom King Charles II dubbed Swiftnicks for his Ride to York. Executed at Tyburn on the 22nd of February, 1681.
  3. James Donally. A Blackmailer, who was convicted of the new offence of Urban Highway Robbery, 22nd of February, 1779.
  4. Margaret Grimes. Executed before Newgate, 22nd of February, 1809, for taking a False Oath.
  5. Lieutenant Edward Bird . Took a Pinch of Snuff just before his Execution at Tyburn, on 23rd of February, 1719, for murdering a Waiter.
  6. John Chapel . Pleaded guilty to murdering one Mary Martin who was found dead in a field near Hoxton; with a piece of Knife sticking in her head, and a Knife under her left Ear. He was found guilty at Newgate on February 25th 1731 and ordered to be hanged in chains. He was executed five days later.
  7. Wych, Andrews & Williams . George Wych, Thomas Andrews alias Anderton and William Williams, all three convicted for robberies on the high-way at the Old Bailey on February 25th 1731 and hanged in early March.
  8. Joseph Moses . Convicted in 1811 of receiving the Skins of Royal Swans from the Serpentine River, in Hyde Park, knowing them to have been stolen. He was fined and imprisoned.
  9. Matthew Henderson . Executed in Oxford Street, 25th of February, 1746, for murdering his Mistress, Lady Dalrymple, who was angry because he trod on her Toe.
  10. Henry Jones, Francis Phoenix and Charles Burton. Executed at Tyburn on the 3rd of February, 1772, for Burglary at the House of Sir Robert Ladbroke, a City Banker.
  11. Stephen Gardener. Executed at Tyburn, 3rd of February, 1724, for House-breaking, after being warned that the Bellman would say his Verses over him.[See Item ten in the gazette Background Briefings for a note on the significance of the Bellman of St Sepulchre.]
  12. Tomas Picton. Late Governor of Trinidad. Convicted on the 24th of February 1806, of applying Torture in order to extort Confession from a Girl.
  13. Jack Addison. Committed fifty-six Highway Robberies, and was executed at Tyburn in March, 1711.
  14. Crime and Punishment: John Bellingham. Executed for the Murder of the Right Honourable Spencer Perceval, the Prime Minister, by shooting him in the House of Commons, in May, 1812.

Find Tyburn on the Map