‘If there is any branch of human disease upon which it is more difficult to form an opinion, without doubt it is with reference to this disease of the mind’: The Trial of Charlotte Annie Fitzgerald and the Kleptomania Defence by Kelly Quinton Jones

In early 1872 Charlotte Annie Fitzgerald stole several items from Mr Collingwood’s store, including a golden pencil case and a diamond ring. She then travelled to India with her husband, Major Fitzgerald, where she sold the stolen items to a Mrs Gosling. Upon her return to England in 1873, Charlotte was indicted for simple larceny.[i]…

Paternal Child-Murder in Victorian Britain by Rebecca Higgins

Popular historiography surrounding infanticide in Victorian Britain tends to overwhelmingly focus on female infanticide, on mothers killing their children and even the children of their friends, and generally ignores cases of male infanticide. One fantastic example of this insufficiently researched sphere of Victorian criminality is that of the trial of Joseph Wood, who stood before…

‘She had no remedy whatever to get rid of her enemies but by being burnt in the flames’: A Case of Arson and Criminal Insanity in Early Nineteenth-Century England by Samantha Lennon

The trial of Jane Cook, a servant found insane for setting fire to the house of her master, John Campbell, exhibits themes of loneliness, class and femininity which are significant within the verdict of a nineteenth-century insanity trial. Within the trial, Cook’s loneliness is considered significant as her lack of friends and ill-treatment by her…

Criminal Lunacy and Working-Class fatherhood by Hannah Stephens

Joseph Wood, aged 24, was tried at the Old Bailey on the 19th May 1890, for the wilful murder of his daughter, Nelly Wood.[i] He was found guilty but insane and detained during her Majesty’s Pleasure at Broadmoor despite not meeting the criteria of the McNaughton Rules, suggesting the jury were more focused on other…

Delirium Tremens, Fatherhood and Child Murder by Matthew Peel

James Hayes was found insane after committing infanticide on the 11th January 1875. With testimonies from neighbours, the police and medical witnesses, Hayes’ trial provides a case study into the themes of medical treatment and ideas of fatherhood. When examining the medical themes of Hayes’ trial, a defining feature was his existing illness before committing…