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Women Who Murder in Early Modern England, 1558-1700

Laura Spence

This dissertation will discuss the experiences of women who committed murder in the early modern period. These experiences will be discussed within the different forms of murder that these women committed, namely infanticide, child murder, husband murder and the murder of subordinates. Within these sections all aspects of the murder will be considered: the motivations that led to the murder, the methods used to commit it, the portrayals of the women within contemporary pamphlets, the ways in which their crimes were discovered and their treatments within the criminal courts. Quantitative analysis for this research has come from the assize court records from the counties of Kent and Essex and the coroners’ court records from Sussex. These have been used alongside contemporary publications, such as pamphlets, broadsheets and conduct books to judge the differences between the two types of sources.

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