Robert Davis was a carpenter by trade who was convicted of the murder of his wife Martha in October 1857. After a day of heavy drinking at various locations across London the couple returned home to Islington, where a violent argument ensued. Before neighbours could intervene in their ‘struggling and quarrelling’ Martha Davies rushed from the building crying ‘murder!’, and collapsed in the street with her throat cut. Robert Davis was later apprehended with the razor still in his hand, though at trial he claimed he had no recollection of these events due to being insensible with drink.
This broadside detailing the crime, trial and execution of Davis is illustrated by one of the stock images used in many such publications in the 19th century. The image details an execution scene outside Newgate Prison (shown on the right) looking north towards the church of St Sepulchre. The image of the hanged man is a crude wood-cut that was regularly changed to identify the sex of the condemned criminal or the number of felons executed.
- Article by:
- John Mullan
- Crime and crime fiction, The novel 1832 - 1880
Crime exists as a powerful psychological force throughout Dickens’s Great Expectations. Professor John Mullan examines the complicated criminal web in which the novel’s protagonist, Pip, finds himself caught.
- Article by:
- Judith Flanders
- Popular culture, Crime and crime fiction
Looking at broadsides, cheap pamphlets and the works of Charles Dickens, Judith Flanders explores how crime in the 19th century – particularly gruesome murder and executions – served as entertainment in both fiction and real life.