Daniel Good was employed as a coachman in the village of Roehampton near London, and for several weeks had conducted an affair with Jane Jones. In April 1842 Good was questioned at his place of work in relation to the matter of a stolen pair of knee breeches. On searching a stable for the property, an investigating constable discovered what he at first thought was a dead goose, only to realise it was actually the torso of a woman, its limbs and head cut off. Good quickly fled the scene, while further investigation revealed further traces of Jane Jones’s body in the remains of a fire. Good is believed to have killed Jones in a fit of anger after discovering the inconvenient truth of her pregnancy.
The murder of Jones by Daniel Good is significant for the way it forced the Metropolitan Police to consider creating a centralised investigative service. Nine police divisions followed separate leads across London before Good was finally arrested at Tonbridge in Kent ten days after the murder, and the case became notorious in the public mind for the police’s bungling actions. Shown here is one of the many broadsides published during the investigation, illustrated by three shocking images of Jane Jones’s dismemberment.
During the 19th century, gruesome murders and public executions were often reported in printed sheets such as the one displayed here. Known as ‘broadsides’ or ‘street literature’, they were sold by street peddlers, and purchased to paste on to walls or to read (or sing) aloud to others. Execution broadsides were produced on cheap paper and illustrated with crude woodcuts. They typically included an account of the crime committed, the conviction and punishment of the criminal, an illustration of the hanged offender and, often, a ballad or moralising hymn. Images of the gallows were frequently re-used, the printers filling in the appropriate number of dangling bodies depending on the number of criminals hanged. These macabre sources are a reminder of the sensationalism surrounding crime in this period. Public executions were still seen as a form of entertainment, often attracting crowds of thousands.
- Article by:
- Philip Horne
- Crime and crime fiction, The novel 1832 - 1880
Oliver Twist shows both the enticement and the danger of the criminal underworld. Professor Philip Horne examines how Dickens’s depiction of crime was influenced by public executions, contemporary slang and other literary works.