Ludicrous crimes that would have gotten you hanged in 18th century England
The Bloody Code
“Every page of our statue book book smelt of blood. We hanged for everything — for a shilling — for five shillings — for forty shillings — for five pounds! We hanged for a sheep — for a horse — for cattle — for coining — for forgery — even for witchcraft — for things that were and things that cannot be.”
— Charles Phillips, 1857
“He who steals from my pocket a handkerchief above a value of twelve pence shall, according to the letter of our law as it stand on the book, atone with the forfeiture of his life.
But the thief who steals from a jeweller’s shop a most costly article, is punished with whipping and imprisonment only, while at the same time a petty theft from a booth or tent in a market or fair by breaking in, is punishable with death.
Robbing a bank at night time by breaking into the building is not a capital offence, but the second conviction of horse stealing is.”
The Reluctant Jurors
Stealing More Than 12 Pence
Returning From Transportation
Strong Evidence of Malice in a Child
“An infant… seven years old, cannot be guilty of felony, whatever circumstances… may appear.
If he be above seven years old, and under twelve years, and commit a felony… he is likely to be [judged] not guilty, because he is… not of [discretion] to judge between Good and Evil…
…yet if if it appears by [strong] and pregnant Evidence and Circumstances, that he had [discretion] to judge between Good and Evil, Judgement of Death may be given [against him].”