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Category Archives: 2. A New Punishment

The Need for a New Punishment: The Sentencing of Criminals after 1718

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. With the passage of the Transportation Act in 1718, Britain became the only European country after 1700 to transport convicts as part of a major governmental policy. The sentence of transportation was popular among judges and quickly became the preferred […]

The Need for a New Punishment: The Transportation Act of 1718

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. As stories of crime and criminals captured the attention of the eighteenth-century reading public and English jails continued to fill beyond capacity, the need to find a new form of institutionalized punishment grew. Citing the fact that current punishments had […]

The Need for a New Punishment: Early Uses of Convict Transportation

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. Before 1718, England’s criminal justice system provided only two sentencing options for criminals convicted of capital crimes: “Benefit of Clergy” for first-time offenders, which sent criminals back out on the streets after receiving some form of corporal punishment, or death. […]

The Need for a New Punishment: The Trials of Richard Wood and Edward Higgins

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. Richard Wood On February 11, 1718, Richard Wood wandered the Newgate Market at 10 o’clock at night, carefully studying the people around him. The often crowded market was located between the notorious Newgate Prison and St. Paul’s Cathedral, and it […]

The Need for a New Punishment: Jonathan Wild and the Criminal Underworld

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. Thief-Taker General Any discussion of the state of England’s criminal underworld in the early 18th century must include Jonathan Wild, the self-described “Thief-Taker General of Great Britain and Ireland.” Wild had his hand in almost every facet of England’s criminal […]

The Need for a New Punishment: England’s Criminal Justice System

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. Government officials became increasingly alarmed by the rise in crime in early eighteenth century England, but its criminal justice system was woefully inadequate in stopping crime and in handling the number of criminals passing through its system. Law Enforcement Even […]

The Need for a New Punishment: Crime in England

Note: This post is part of a series on Convict Transportation to the American colonies. Why did England decide to ship its convicted felons across the Atlantic to America? To answer this question, we need to look at the changes in crime and its occurrence in early eighteenth-century England. The Rise in Property Crime The […]