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Most Cruell and Bloody Murder: Crime Reporting in Early-Stuart England

Date & Time:
November 19, 2015 | 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Judith Sloman Reading Room (SS 1114)

This article examines two crime chapbooks written in 1606 that describe the murder of a young boy, Anthony James, the mutilation of his sister, Elizabeth, and the conviction and execution of their alleged assailants, Agnes and George Dell. The presence of two chapbooks describing the same crime was unusual in early modern England. The two versions contain a great deal of contradictory information, were seemingly written for very different audiences, served a variety of functions for contemporary readers, and force the modern reader to question if, in fact, justice was done in this case. Comparing and contrasting the two texts allows us to consider various aspects of crime reporting and the effectiveness and purposes of the criminal justice system in early-Stuart England. 

Ken MacMillan is Professor of History at the University of Calgary. He is the recipient of two University of Calgary Teaching Awards (2014 & 2015). Melissa Glass is an Honours student in the Department of History. This project emerged from their collaboration on Stories of True Crime in Tudor and Stuart England (Routledge, 2015), and was supported by a 2015 Program for Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE) award.