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Poor old James Holt, a man who went to the scaffold not entirely convinced that the death sentence was the proper punishment for a teensy bit of smuggling (although it’s perhaps more justified than “being out at night with a blackened face” or “stealing from a rabbit warren”, which also warranted capital punishment in the late eighteenth century).

If in doubt, of course, blame the lewd women and their unreasonable demands!


- Derby Mercury, Friday 10th July 1752

“Yesterday the Eleven Malefactors, under sentence of Death were executed at Tyburn; they all behaved with more Decency and seeming Concern than is usual when a Number of Felons are executed together. It is remarkable, that of the eleven who suffered Yesterday, seven of them ascribe their Ruin to the Association of Lewd Women, who drove them to unlawful Courses, in order to support the Extravagancies of those Daughters of Plunder. James Holt the Smuggler, behaved very penitently, but did not seem convinced that his Sentence was just, or that Smuggling merited Death. Amongst his last Words, were: It is very hard to be hanged for Smuggling.”


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