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Tag Archives: Whipping

Early American Criminals: The Cuckolded Soldier

Around 1764 or 1765, Bryan Sheehen returned home to his wife in Casco Bay, ME after serving in the regular army for a long six and a half years. But the joy of his homecoming turned into rage when he learned that his wife had remarried during his absence to a Frenchman. Sheehen made preparations […]

Crime Poems: “That Notorious Cheat”

Crime Poems: “That Notorious Cheat” In June 1761, Jeremiah Dexter of Walpole, MA was caught trying to pass counterfeit dollars of his own making. As punishment, Dexter was forced on September 10 to stand in the pillory for one hour and pay a fine of 20 pounds. Among the crowd who showed up that day […]

Crime Poems: Elizabeth Smith and John Sennet

On March 10, 1772, Elizabeth Smith appeared before the Massachusetts Superior Court and for a second time was found guilty of theft. Her first conviction came almost a year ago, when she received 20 lashes as punishment for the same crime. This time, Smith was sentenced to sit on the gallows for one hour with […]

Early American Criminals: Rachel Wall’s Fall From Grace

Rachel Wall knew exactly what to say and how to say it in her Life, Last Words and Dying CONFESSION, where she eloquently appealed to God and her “dear Savior and Redeemer JESUS CHRIST, who is able to save all those that, by faith, come unto him, not refusing even the chief of sinners.” After […]

Early American Criminals: Owen Syllavan’s Bunker

After one week, hunger finally drove Owen Syllavan out of his hiding place in the Connecticut woods and forced him to seek refuge with an acquaintance. Syllavan cut open a plank in the floor of his friend’s house, dug a large cavity that went under the hearth of the fireplace, and rigged a vent so […]

In the Media: Interview with Lucy Inglis of Georgian London

I was recently in London and had the good fortune to interview and enjoy afternoon tea with Lucy Inglis, who is the author/publisher of Georgian London. Lucy and I met on Monday, April 18 at Blacks in Soho, London, and we talked about eighteenth-century London, crime, and the perception of Americans by Londoners during […]

Crime and Prison Songs: “Black Betty”

In the 1930’s, John A. Lomax and his son, Alan Lomax, traveled around the United States collecting and recording ballads and songs sung by cowboys, lumberjacks, slaves, creoles, and railway men. They also recorded work songs sung by convicts in Southern prison farms. The following song, “Black Betty,” appears in their 1934 compilation, American […]

Early American Criminals: Thomas Mount and the Flash Company

In April 1791, Thomas Mount and James Williams were thrown in the Newport, RI jail to be held until their execution for burglary. Williams was reticent to discuss his life or the crime that the two committed, but Mount not only willingly talked at length about these topics, he divulged the inner-workings of the […]

Early American Criminals: The Race of Johnson Green, Burglar

Johnson Green was born in Bridgewater, MA on February 7, 1757 to unmarried parents. His father was a servant who worked for Timothy Edson. His mother was a widow named Sarah Johnson. His mother’s maiden name was Green, so he was sometimes called Joseph-Johnson Green. Green’s father was African American; his mother was Irish. Green […]

EAC Places and Events: The Fort Mackinac Guardhouse Prison Cell

Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island was constructed in 1779 in order to protect the lucrative fur trade in northern Michigan and maintain relations with neighboring Native American tribes. The military importance of the Fort diminished as the nineteenth century progressed, but the Fort took on a new role when the Mackinac National Park was established […]