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Barbara Logan

2015 WIHR Research Projects

The Murder of Angels: Gender, Policing, and Punishment in Victorian Scotland

Funded projects, February 2015

Researcher: Barbara Logan

Department: History

My goal is to investigate how the Victorian gender ideal of women as ―the Angel in the House‖ influenced the outcome of two notorious murder trials in Scotland in the year 1862. The first case, Mary Timney, marked the last public hanging (and execution) of a woman in Scotland; the second case, Jessie McLachlan, resulted in a public outcry that led to a petition with 100,000 signatures asking for clemency, a special parliamentary commission, and a royal respite. In comparison, the last judicial execution of a man in Scotland was in 1963 (Harry Burnett), and the last execution of a woman in the United Kingdom (Ruth Ellis) was in 1955. Capital punishment was not abolished throughout the U.K. until 1998. The research is intended to add to both historical and contemporary scholarly investigations of the macro-structural, gendered, socio-economic forces that construct, criminalize, convict, and execute some citizens, while sparing others.

Photo credits:

Crime Comparisons, National Archives.gov

Mary McDonald crime report, National Archives.gov

Crime Comparison Figures

Crime Comparison Figures
Home Office figures compare the amounts of various crimes in 1880 with the annual averages for 1875 to 1879

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