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You have seven days left in which to listen ot the latest episode of Voices from the Old Bailey presented by Professor Amanda Vickery. Today’s episode is about children in the 18th century and their experience of the law. This week is very hard listening, as it deals with details cases of abuse and murder of children.  The story of the murder ( or I would think, manslaughter in today’s terms) of Alexander Knipe, a young inmate of a workhouse, who was killed by a workhouse worker, Mabel Hughes, his overseeer, is dreadful; the testimonies of his friends and his “mummah” are fascinating when compared to the witness statement of the controller of the workhouse.

The discusion was recorded at The Foundling Hospital, in Brunswick Square, near to the home of the John Knightleys in Emma

The criminal cases concerning children are often petty crimes-pickpocketing and theft-usually committed  in order to survive. The story of Mary Wade who stole the frock, tippet and cap from a young child, Mary Phillips, is fascinating. I’ve had witnesses like Mary Phillips in the past and I can understand the exasperation in the barrister’s voice…

The other members of the panel this week are Professor Tim Hitchcock, who worked on the Old Bailey Website, Dr Zoe Laidlaw who is descended form  a convict who was transported to Australia and Dr Ruth Richardson.

Not easy listening, but a programme which has interesting things to say about 18th century attitudes to children and has some resonances even for today and the way we treat children in care and in criminal cases.

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