When England was on the cusp of the Victorian era in the 1820s, there were more than 200 offenses that were punishable by death. They ranged in severity from mass murder to consorting with “Gypsies,” but thanks to the so-called “Bloody Code,” all took the same toll: a public hanging. By the time Victoria took the throne in 1837, that number had dwindled to 15; by 1860, there were only four ways to get officially killed by the English state.
How could there be so many capital crimes in the Georgian/early-Victorian era? What were the crimes? Many of them were crimes straight out of CSI, such as rape, murder, and brutal assaults. But others seem insane to modern sensibilities, such as looting shipwrecks, cutting down trees, and writing threatening letters. Read on for a peek into the minds of Georgian and early-Victorian legislators.