The aim of the public punishments was deterrence (to stop others from comitting the same crime).
Burning at the stake: Public executions, which were extremely popular and a common punishment during the reign of Bloody Mary. Over 300 Protestants were burnt at the stake for going against the catholic church. Additionally, women found guilty of either treason or petty treason were sentenced to be burned alive at the stake.
Other forms of execution include beheading which Henry the eighth favoured and his reign saw over 70,000 people beheaded.Often, the severed heads were displayed along London Bridge or other crowded places, as a warning to others. Beheading was considered less degrading than hanging, and it usually killed more quickly. Noblemen (rich) who commited crimes wre more likely to be beheaded than hung.
Hanging from the gallows: A piece of rope was put around the neck making it hard for the person to breathe. The person would be hung from the rope until he/she had stopped breathing and was dead. People were hung for crimes such as stealing, treason, rebellion, riot or murder.
The Bloody Code (Stuart/Georgian)
The Bloody Code
In the years after 1660 the number of offences carrying the death penalty increased enormously, from about 50, to 160 by 1750 and to 288 by 1815. You could be hanged for stealing goods worth 5 shillings (25p), stealing from a shipwreck, pilfering from a Naval Dockyard, damaging Westminster Bridge, impersonating a Chelsea Pensioner or cutting down a young tree. This series of laws was called (later) "The Bloody Code." There was also no police force. The Bloody Code was therefore a threat: severe retribution would happen to those thinking of breaking the law by infringing property rights. A great deal was made of hangings. They were held in public and thousands turned out to watch, especially in London, at Tyburn. The intention was clearly to act as a deterrent to others to observe the laws - or else. Offenders escaped the noose at many points: sometimes the charge was reduced to below capital levels (this could go to ridiculous lengths, as in the charge "Stole £5 value 10 pence"). uries were reluctant to find people guilty. Judges let offenders off and offenders sometimes agreed to join the army or navy instead. As a last resort, petitions for mercy were often answered. The system therefore held the death threat in readiness, but could show mercy: either way, power of life or death lay with the powerful.
Stocks and Pilory (Tudor)
The pillory was a T shaped block of wood with holes for the hands in the crossbar of the T. The person being punished would have to stand in the device in the middle of the market to be ridiculed by passersby.
Stocks were used in the same way as the pillory, except that with stocks, the feet were bound. The stocks were a block of wood with two holes for your feet to go in.You were put in the stocks for selling bad meat or bread. Local people threw rubbish and rotten eggs at people in the stocks.
Elizabeth Fry (Victorian)
In 1817 Elizabeth Fry formed the Association for the Improvement of Female prisoners in Newgate. She visited other prisons and set up ladies’ prison associations at each one.
These changes were made at Newgate and were later introduced in other prisons:
- Rules for women to obey in prison
- Female warders
- Schools for women and children in prison, focusing on religious education
- Regular work for women in prison
1823 - Compulsory to have women wardens for women's prisons.
1835 - Inspectors appointed tosupervise conditions.
1853 - Brixton Prison open for just women