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One famous trial held in Co. Clare, reported in the Dublin Evening Post in July 1824, was that of Honora Concannon, a prostitute, for the murder of William Higgins, a beggar from Corofin in Co. Clare. The evidence against her was so strong that the Jury r

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Introduction

One famous trial held in Co. Clare, reported in the Dublin Evening Post in July 1824, was that of Honora Concannon, a prostitute, for the murder of William Higgins, a beggar from Corofin in Co. Clare. The evidence against her was so strong that the Jury returned a verdict of guilty without leaving the box. Concannon was sentenced to death by hanging. She was placed with a rope around her neck after having severely bitten the executioner. She struggled relentlessly as she kicked and cursed those around her. When the drop fell, one of her legs remained on the frame until the executioner removed it with force and she subsequently died unrepentant. Severe forms of punishment were applied during the 18th and 19th Centuries. Stocks were an instrument of punishment whereby the perpetrator's hands, head and feet were locked in between lengths of timber. A person could be left in this position for several hours. Another form of punishment used was the Ducking Stool, which was a seat attached to a long pole mounted on a support. ...read more.

Middle

Juries were generally loath to convict people for property crimes, since the penalty of death seemed disturbingly harsh. In fact, many victims declined to pursue matters through the legal system out of a sheer unwillingness to see the perpetrators hanged for their offence. However, imprisonment was not considered a reasonable alternative to capital punishment, since it placed young criminals into contact with older, hard-bitten ones, encouraging partnerships. The ingenious idea of transportation became an alternative punishment beginning around 1718. Criminals were deported to the remote colonies of Maryland and Virginia on the American shore and, later in the century, were sent off to settle New South Wales, Australia. In the 18th Century there was no professional police force and if you were a shopkeeper who was robbed it was your duty to get the offender before the justices. The community had to help each other. Communications were difficult and newspapers were always giving warnings about where thieves were operating. The punishments which were handed out seem harsh to us today when we have a more enlightened and flexible way of doing things," said Barry. ...read more.

Conclusion

Setting fire to a building, damaging property, and mugging were considered very serious crimes. Those guilty of murder or personal injury received capital punishment; executions would be immediately carried out. Detention usually ended with the premature death of the convict, as hardly anyone could survive in the conditions prevailing in prisons. Quick links to the topics covered here: - Executions Sending to the Armed forces Transportation Imprisonment in Prison Hulks Imprisonment in Houses of Correction, Gaols and Penitentiaries During the 18th century the number of crimes punishable by death rose to about 200. Some, such as treason or murder, were serious crimes, but in other cases people could be sentenced to death for what we would think of as minor offences. For example, the death sentence could be passed for picking pockets, stealing bread or cutting down a tree. These were the kinds of crime likely to be committed by those in most desperate need. In time of war it was often difficult to recruit, especially to the navy, as people knew how hard the conditions were on board ship. Some prisoners were therefore sentenced to serve in the forces. ...read more.

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