Rough justice - Victorian style

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Stealing from a rabbit warren or impersonating a Chelsea Pensioner may not sound like crimes of the century, but in Victorian England they could land you with a hangman's noose around your neck.

Trial records newly released by the National Archives and put online have lifted the lid on a brutal penal system and showcased some of the most infamous criminal cases.

Executions were public spectacles, with the wealthy hiring balconies to get better views, and it did not take much to book yourself a spot at the gallows.

The death sentence also applied to pickpockets, the destruction of turnpike roads, general poaching, stealing from a shipwreck and being out at night with a blackened face, which made people assume you were a burglar

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