For The Historically Interested


The scene is England. The date is August 31, 1759 and it’s dark outside. It’s a quarter past nine in the evening, and two men are fighting.

They are both skilled fighters. Their dispute started in an ale-house, when the landlady attempted to send one of the men and another who was with him away. The second man assisted her, and he and the first man started fighting.

Out in the street, one of the men stabbed the other in the abdomen, and was then taken to the hospital. The other was arrested. The man who was stabbed died at 2pm the following day.

The case of the murder of William Kendal was heard in the Old Bailey in England on 12 September 1759, and the sentence was immediately given.

The sentence was swift, with no appeal process:

The sentence handed down to Richard Lamb

Now, for the plug:

This all comes from the Old Bailey Online, which has just released transcripts of criminal trials from back to 1674. It makes for rather fascinating reading. Those of us interested in history, particularly that of criminal matters, will enjoy this.

Three observations though:

1. 11 days to prepare a criminal trial and have a sentence handed down? Brilliant! Now it’s lucky to take less than 11 months.

2. Two and a little bit days to carry out a sentence for almost nothing (monetary wise)? Equally good, as long as guilt is established. In this case, it seems to have been pretty conclusive.

3. We’ve advanced far in medicine, because this kind of injury is often overcome these days. Of course, I say that just going off the information read in the transcript.

One last thing, if anyone likes reading about true crime and the like, I have plenty of links if you’re interested.

10 Responses to “For The Historically Interested”

  1. Rebecca H Says:

    That’s a great site, thanks, Ash. God, I love the internet.

  2. Ash Says:

    No worries Rebecca. It’s definitely something a bit different!

  3. Angus Dei Says:

    Law today is written by lawyer-politicians for lawyer-judges, lawyer-prosecutors, and lawyer-defense attorneys. It is designed to maximize the work and billable hours. There’s no justice in it anymore… but, you knew that. ;-)

    I could go on. LOL!

  4. Ash Says:

    LOL. I did know that Angus, and as I was writing my three points I was thinking “Angus is going to say “SHOOT THE LAWYERS”!”

  5. yojimbo Says:

    Old Bailey?

    Isn’t that something Rumpole used to drink?

    Otherwise, I’m confused.

  6. nilk Says:

    Hey! I think I found my great-great-ad infinitum-grandfather!

  7. nilk Says:

    Of course, he didn’t last long here in Oz!

  8. Retread Says:

    Well that was a lot of fun. My many-times-great-grandfather was kicked out of Old Blighty for stealing four spoons and a silver salt from his employer to buy a “quarten of gin” for a woman ‘who has been my ruin’. Heh. If the court hadn’t reduced the value of the silver he would have been hanged instead of transported!

  9. Celaeno Says:

    A truly fascinating book, politically and historically, is “The Reckoning”, which starts with the inquest concerning the death of Christopher Marlowe and turns into an examination of the dark side of Elizbethan power politics. The author’s conjectures about the truth behind the legal pronouncements may not be correct but he does a great job of supporting it.

  10. SandiM Says:

    Oooo, Ash. My favourite genre – true crime. I’d love to have those links you referred to. Please. Pretty pleeease.


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