Tag Archives: crime
New research is revealing for the first time the degree to which poverty, famine and shame drove thousands of Irish women to commit infanticide in the 19th century. Irish historian Elaine Farrel has identified over 4,600 cases of suspected infanticide between 1850 and 1900. Farrell’s findings are significant because they correct widely held views – originating in the 19th century but reinforced by historians as late as 1970s – the infanticide was either non-existent or extremely rare in Victorian Ireland.
This punishment was laid down in Tudor times for those who successfully pleaded Benefit of Clergy, whereby members of the church found guilty of various felonies were spared the death sentence. in court, anyone could claim to be a member of the clergy; the test was reading out the passage from the Bible.
Diabolical conditions abroad the hulks, the floating prisons which took up the slack when transportation to America ended, forced Britain to rethink its penal policy. The consensus was that Britain urgently needed another colony. First under consideration was the island of Lemane in the Gambia, West Africa. Its advantage was isolation. No guards would be needed to watch over the felons. But it would have amounted to signing the death warrant of the desperate souls abandoned there. Happily the scheme was dropped.