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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree August 2018 > How to get away with murder! Literally…

How to get away with murder! Literally…

Adèle Emm investigates a piece of legislation that came into play in Anglo-Saxon times, and led to the acquittal of many a seemingly guilty wife in the centuries to follow. It wasn’t until 2014 that marital coercion finally was swept away as a defence
The front door of the Manchester Police Museum. Explore the website of the museum at


‘It’s not my fault!’ We’ve all heard this defence before, and it certainly isn’t a modern invention. In English common law, women could blame their misdemeanours on, yes, you’ve guessed it, their man – and theoretically escape scot-free.

‘He made me do it!’

I came across this defence while researching Victorian female criminals in the Greater Manchester Police Museum This archive is amazing; not only does it give a physical description and convictions but in many cases, there are photos. Lumped in among the male felons, two women convicted in March 1874 caught my eye…

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About Family Tree

What did your ancestors do for a job? Were they an apprentice? Did they take the King’s Shilling? Or work down the mine? What were the opportunities available to them, and what were the very real hazards of the work they did all day? This issue we’re exploring those employment records that can help you find out more about your ancestors’ work in times gone by. Discovering the history of your ancestors’ employment will give you invaluable insights into the lives they led. What they earned, and how they earned it, will shed light on their income and lifestyle, the communities they lived in, and the roof over their heads. Investigate their work; understand their lives… We have all the info you need to help you do this.