London in the Time of the Stuarts

By Walter Besant | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII PUNISHMENT AND CRIME

IN the following chapter will be found certain notes on crime and criminals. There is little difference between the crimes of the Elizabethan and those of the Stuart period. I have added two or three stories of the period which seem to affect the manners of London. Hundreds of such stories might be found scattered up and down the annals of the seventeenth century. I have made these meagre selections with sparing hand. The crime of Lord Sanquhar; the cruelty of the Puritan in his punishments; an example of the honest citizen; the treachery of a noble lord; the origin of General Monk's wife, and one or two more persons and episodes may be taken as illustrations of the times.

The punishment of criminals under the English law remained all through the century cruel and vindictive. High treason continued to be punished with the old barbarities; we have seen what these were. The coiner, if a man, was drawn on a hurdle and hanged; if a woman, she was burned alive. For petty treason, which is the murder of a master, a husband, or a superior officer, the offender was hanged if a man; burned if a woman. For felony of all kinds, hanging. If a man refused to plead he was pressed to death. After death, the body was sometimes hung in chains. In felonies where Benefit of Clergy was still allowed, the offender was branded on the left hand. For petty larceny, the punishments were the loss of an ear, or a whipping. Perjury was punished with pillory, with branding on the forehead, while the offender's trees were pulled up in his garden and his goods confiscated. Forgery, cheating, libelling, using false weights and measures, forestalling the market, offending against the statutes in bakery and brewery, were punished with pillory, and sometimes by nailing one or both ears to the pillory, or cutting them off, or boring through the tongue with a hot iron. For striking in the King's Court the right hand was struck off. For striking in Westminster Hall while the judges were sitting, the punishment was imprisonment for life and confiscation of the offender's goods.

If a jury bought in a verdict contrary to evidence they were liable to lose the

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London in the Time of the Stuarts
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • 49079- Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Sovereigns 1
  • Chapter I- James I 3
  • Chapter II- Charles I 22
  • Chapter III- The City and the Civil War 53
  • Chapter IV- The Commonwealth 64
  • Chapter V- The Restoration 74
  • Chapter VI 82
  • Chapter VII- James II 103
  • Chapter VIII- William the Third 117
  • Chapter IX- queen Anne 127
  • Religion, Government, and Trade 135
  • Chapter I- Religion 137
  • Chapter II- Tiie Church and Dissent 154
  • Chapter III- Superstitions 159
  • Chapter IV- Sanctuary 168
  • Chapter V- City Government and Usages 172
  • Chapter VI- Trade 190
  • Chapter VII- The Irish Estates 206
  • The Great Plague and Fire 213
  • Chapter I- Plague 215
  • Chapter II- Plague and Medicine 233
  • Chapter III- The Fire 240
  • Chapter IV- Ii. the Fire of London 244
  • Chapter V- Contemporary Evidence 258
  • Chapter VI- London after the Fire 269
  • Manners and Customs 285
  • Chapter I- Food and Drink 287
  • Chapter II- Dress and Manners 298
  • Chapter III- Weddings and Funerals 308
  • Chapter IV- Places of Resort 311
  • Chapter V- Theatre and Art 318
  • Chapter VI- Sports and Amusements 328
  • Chapter VII- Coaches 338
  • Chapter VIII- Punishment and Crime 345
  • Chapter IX- Public Morality 355
  • Chapter X- General Notes 359
  • Appendices 363
  • Index 385
  • Ogilby and Morgan''s Map of London, 1677 397
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