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Amish Murder
False Confessions

to 1800


1348-1748: Gangs of criminals roamed unchecked in England

1500-1600: Criminals in Germany were tortured for confessions

1640’s: American colonies’ first crime wave in New York

1650: Gin discovered in England, serious increase in crime

1660-1750: City slums and crime developed in England

1676-1776: Only crime in American colonies involved minor offenses

1676: Major arson case in Boston

1677: Burning at stake abolished in England

1692: Salem witchcraft episodes in American colonies

1700-1750: Crime grew in American colony seaport towns

1700-1725: Jonathan Wild was London’s most famous and notorious thief and fence

1717: The “Mississippi Bubble” swindle in France

1739: Dick Turpin, England’s number one criminal was executed

1740-1814: Era of Marquis DeSade in France

1741: 13 blacks burned at stake in NYC for arson

1750-1790: Serious crime wave in American colonies

1763: Serious depression in American colonies

1759-1778: Infanticide a major crime problem in Sweden

1788: Last woman in England to be burnt alive at the stake

Forensic Science

150AD: Graeco-Roman physician Galen first to perform autopsies

1248: China – His Yuan Lu is first text published on Forensic Medicine

1312: Mondino dei Liucci was the first European to conduct an autopsy for the court

1507: Italy – first medico-legal book published in Europe

1543: Andress Versalius published Humani Corporis Fabrica

1550: Ambroise Pare, Fortuanto Fidelis, & Paolo Zacchia first practitioners of forensic medicine in Europe

1611: Testimony in England re the date of a paper document determined the outcome of a legal dispute

1622: An Italian pamphlet was published on the science of graphology

1640: Two German doctors Bohn and Michaelis lectured on violent death at the University of Leipzig

1647: First autopsies were carried out in Massachusetts

1682: Dr. Schreyer devised the first standardized procedure in forensic medicine

1684: England – Nehemiah Grew published the first work on fingerprints. The book did not concern the identification potentials of fingerprints.

1689: France – an investigator tried to use the attacker’s hair found in the victim’s hand as evidence against him. He failed because human hair and animal hair could not be distinguished at this time.

1700: Italian Giovanni Morgagni founded the science of pathology

1774: England – Forgery was proven in a contested will case

1795: Dr. Andrew Duncan, University of Edinburgh, was first English lecturer on forensic medicine

1796: Two major books were published on forensic medicine in France and Italy

Law Enforcement

Before 1066: England – There was no centralized law enforcement of court system. Citizens kept the peace among themselves

1066: Norman Conquest – Norman courts were established in England

1285: England – Watch and Ward police system in operation

1625-1649: England – Cruel punishment for crime imposed by King Charles I

1631: Unpaid watchmen and constables patrolled Boston at night

1653-1658: England under military rule – law enforcement was oppressive

1658: NYC established a paid watch at night

1682: Philadelphia appointed constables

1748: England – Henry Fielding was appointed Magistrate of Bow Street. He established the country’s first detectives – the “Thief Takers.”

1749: Philadelphia began a paid watch at night

1789: U.S. Marshals Office established in U.S.

1792: one of England’s first police reformers/administrators, Patrick Colquhoun, was appointed as a London magistrate

Criminal Law

1215: England – The signing of the Magna Carta

1670: England – Habeas Corpus Act passed

1699: England – the Act of 1699 made almost all but petty theft capital offenses

1752: England – Executed criminals would, by law, be used for medical dissection

1789: U.S. Constitution adopted

Crime Prevention and Private Security

1767: The French treatise, Art of the Locksmith was published

1772: The lever lock was in common use

1784: The Bramah lock was developed in England

This page was last updated on: Monday, January 14, 2008

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A. James Fisher
Dept. of Political Science & Criminal Justice, 146 Hendricks Hall
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro, PA 16444
e-mail: jfisher@edinboro.edu blog: http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com