Donna Scott’s Blog

Hanging and Gibbeting

Hanging and Gibbeting

Death by hanging was used as a form of capital punishment in England as early as the fifth century. Other methods of execution found their way into history over the years as well, yet never managed to maintain the longevity of death by hanging. Castration, blinding, beheading, boiling, burning, and dismemberment all made an appearance in England between the time of William the Conqueror and the 18th century when hanging became the favoured method of punishment. Even children as young as seven were subject to pay for their crimes at the end of a rope. Those unfortunate enough to find their necks in a noose prior to the late 19th century, when the long drop was introduced, would die from...

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The London Lock Hospital

The London Lock Hospital

According to many historiographers, 18th century London marked a high point in sexual liberation. Thousands of prostitutes—both men and women—offered their services either within brothels or molly houses, or on the street in areas notoriously known for being rife with sexual promise. The popular perception at the time was that women who sold their bodies for sex were simply lusty whores whose licentious desires could only be satiated through prostitution. However, others purported that these women were solely in it for the money and entered into prostitution with the dream that it would bring them riches. Yet others—a very few—understood that poverty is what drove women to engage in...

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The London Monster

The London Monster

Almost everyone has heard of Jack the Ripper, the villain who wandered the streets of London in 1888, killing prostitutes in the dead of night. Few people are aware, however, that he had a predecessor, a sexual miscreant who terrorized those same streets exactly one hundred years earlier. Although he did not have a predilection for prostitutes, his weapon of choice was the same. That man was known as The London Monster. His reign of terror lasted from March 1788 to June 1790. Within that timeframe, he attacked approximately 56 women. This number remains in question, however, because many believe some of his attacks were not reported and others were fabricated. But more on that later. In...

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The Buggery Act and Homosexuality in the 17th Century

The Buggery Act and Homosexuality in the 17th Century

In Shame the Devil, Alston suffers horribly. As a young boy, he is confronted with feelings that are deemed unnatural and sinful. His Puritan upbringing insists that everything he thinks, feels, and knows about himself is the product of evil. However, once he meets the man who will guide him into a life he has only known as forbidden, he surrenders his fears and uncertainty and engages in a relationship that finally offers him the love he so desperately desires. But in the 17th century, this is a dangerous game to play. Today, we’d simply say that Alston is homosexual but in the 1600s, he would be called a sodomite. The term homosexuality wasn’t coined until 1869, and related terms such as...

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