When Ritson first started his job as High Bailiff of the Liberty of the Savoy, no one really knew what the job entailed. So Ritson decided to research the subject.
Tim Hitchcock and Robert Shoemaker’s “London Lives: Poverty, Crime, and the Making of a Modern City, 1690-1800” (2015)
Hitchcock and Shoemaker’s work is well grounded in the scholarship of eighteenth-century social history, particularly in the history of crime. The need for this work comes from the fact that the history of crime and the history of poor relief have hitherto tended to constitute different subjects, but as Hitchcock and Shoemaker illustrate, the history of welfare and crime in the eighteenth century are interrelated. Moreover, even where previous scholars have attempted to build a history from below, the voices and the experiences of the poor are often marginalised and discussed instead in terms of official acts passed and the rise of charitable associations (pp.13-15). To build their argument Hitchcock and Shoemaker rely on a number of sources: the digitised MS. and trial transcripts from both London Lives and the Old Bailey Online; Workhouse and Settlement Records; Repertories of the Court of Aldermen; Parliamentary Papers; criminal biographies. The innovative feature with the online ebook version of this work is that the footnotes will link straight to the digitised sources in London Lives and the Old Bailey Online.
How the Albanian Mafia Infiltrated the Government | Logan Lafferty
“It is painfully obvious that the modus vivendi that has been reached between state and political institutions and organized crime is causing a permanent deformation of the democratic system.”
The Urban Mysteries: Organised Crime in Victorian Popular Literature | Stephen Basdeo
Stephen Basdeo The Following was a lecture delivered by Stephen Basdeo at Richmond: The American International University on Wednesday 18 November 2020 to students in GEP4180: Organised Crime in Popular Culture. Although […]
Hanging the Slave Traders | Anonymous
“A few remarks on that abominable traffic, the SLAVE TRADE, which, to the disgrace of Europe, has not yet ceased to exist, although the efforts of England have been so long directed to its abolition.”
Walter Scott Rules in a Case of Wrongful Dismissal in 1812 | Stephen Basdeo
The working man was not completely at the mercy of unscrupulous employers who might withhold wages and sack them. They could use the law to get revenge.
A Murder-Suicide in Stephen Basdeo’s Victorian Ancestors: The Case of George Leedham (1871)
The Basdeo family has a sordid murder-suicide among its Victorian ancestors. Even worse, insanity was thought “to run in the blood”….
The Fine Art of Murder | Stephen Basdeo
“Something more goes to the composition of a fine murder than two blockheads to kill and be killed—a knife—a purse—and a dark lane. Design, gentlemen, grouping, light and shade, poetry and sentiment, are now deemed indispensable to attempts of this nature.”
Lines Written by a New York Homeless Woman
A thin shawl was drawn over her shoulders; her dress was ragged and worn, her face deathly pale…In her pocket was found the remnant of the crust, and a copy of verses printed on red paper.
“The Truth and Nothing But the Truth”: Its first use in popular culture | Stephen Basdeo
‘The truth and nothing but the truth’—it’s a well-known phrase used in courts of law and most of us have heard it on TV dramas. But where did the phrase first come from?
Gamaliel Ratsey (d.1605): The Man whose Life Kick-started the “True Crime” Genre
Ratsey was a hardened offender who disdained honest work and turned to crime to live extravagantly. Little did he know that the account his life, a pamphlet titled “The Life of Gamaliel Ratsey” (1605) kick-started the “true” crime genre of popular literature.
Claude Du Vall: The Ladies’ Highwayman
As Du Vall approached the carriage he and looked into the window flashing his huge pistol, he exclaimed: “Those eyes of yours, madam, have undone me. I am captivated with that pretty good-natured smile.”
Detective Robert Fabian meets Perverts and Rubber Suits | Stephen Basdeo
“A man begins to commit murder from the moment he indulges sadistic day dreams…and begins to buy sadistic novelettes, or seek out a prostitute or masochistic amateur to share his perverted interests.”
Red Katy and her Customers
The room contains an assortment of devices for inflicting pain. All the time, the client is pleading with Katy for her forgiveness, promising “he will be good,” while she lays into him with the whiplash of her tongue, and afterwards with her collection of implements.
Opium; or, How it Became a “Dirty Drug”
We live in an era in which, increasingly, governments in many western countries are realising that they are losing the so-called “War on Drugs”. Some countries have completely decriminalised certain substances, while in some states in the USA, you can buy marijuana over the counter for both medicinal and recreational use. Our attitude to illicit substances is increasingly looking not too dissimilar from that held by many people in the early nineteenth century.
Review: “The 19th-Century Underworld: Crime, Controversy & Corruption” by Stephen Carver
In The 19th-Century Underworld: Crime, Controversy & Corruption, historian and novelist Stephen Carver, drawing upon a wide range of archival and literary sources, takes us on a journey through the seedy courts and sinister alleyways of the criminal underworld which existed during the nineteenth century.
Thomas Cooper’s “Prison Rhyme” (1845)
I recently came into possession of a book written by Thomas Cooper (1805-92), a famous Chartist activist, which he gave to his friend, the newspaper proprietor and fellow Chartist, John Cleave (1790-1847).
Crime in a Communist Utopia
“Up at the League, says a friend, there had been one night a brisk conversational discussion, as to what would happen on the Morrow of the Revolution, finally shading off into a vigorous statement by various friends of their views on the future of the fully-developed new society … [William Guest] found himself musing on the subject-matter of discussion, but still discontentedly and unhappily. “If I could but see it!” … “If I could but see it! If I could but see it!”
Bandits and Robbers of India
“I will warn him that he will not find my robbers such romantic, generous characters as those who occasionally figure in the fields of fiction. He will meet with men strangers to that virtue of robbing the rich to give to the poor. They give to the poor indeed, but it is as spies and instruments of their own crimes, or at least in order to avoid detection.” –Charles Macfarlane, 1833.
“Confusion, horror, and bloodshed”: Joseph Ritson’s Eye-Witness Account of the Gordon Riots in 1780
“A general spirit of discontent has long been increasing among the people: it has at last broken out among the lower class in London.”
Yobs from Richmond Arrested for Stealing Football
Young lads have always enjoyed playing football, but sometimes their love for it can land them in trouble with the police. This is as true today as it was in the Victorian era, where in court records we find two residents from Richmond, London, William Ford, aged 19, and Henry Hold, aged 15, arrested for having broken into a shop and stealing a football.
Blind Justice in Eugene Sue’s “The Mysteries of Paris” (1842–3)
If you were a criminal, what would you choose – a life sentence in prison, the death sentence, or to be surgically blinded?
Dimas and Gestas: Bandits Crucified with Christ
The two men crucified alongside Jesus were not just petty thieves but dangerous bandits and possible revolutionaries.
The Virgin and the Outlaw
In the earliest medieval poems, Robin Hood is devoted to the Virgin Mary. While this may seem odd, many thieves in medieval Europe had an attachment to her.