Rachel Bennett

PhD Researcher, Post-Mortem Punishment in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Scotland

In 2011 I attained a first class BA Hons degree in history from Northumbria University. I was subsequently awarded a scholarship to complete my Masters of research, also in history, at Northumbria and attained an MRes with distinction in 2012. My research investigated the crimes of infanticide and child murder in mid- to late nineteenth-century England when perpetrated by mothers but also by fathers; an area largely neglected in the existing historiography of child murder. Through the use of court records and contemporary newspapers I was able to question legal and lay responses to the crime and place my own research into the wider and continually expanding fields of domesticity, masculinity and family history and their intersections with crime and punishment.


During my MRes degree I was part of the organising team for the symposium Expanding Horizons: Initiatives in Diverse Research. Papers given at the conference covered multiple disciplines including history, English, gender studies and art. My own paper focused on how far and in what circumstances the state, in the period 1850-1884, intervened in the domestic authority of the father and in turn questioned the legal punishment faced by such fathers.


In 2012 I began my PhD as part of the Harnessing the Power of the Criminal Corpse research project thus allowing me to continue and expand my interest in criminal history. My research examines eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Scotland with the aim of investigating the implementation of capital punishment and, more specifically, cases in which post execution punishment was carried out. My research, while aiming to build upon the existing historiography of eighteenth-century crime and punishment, also seeks to demonstrate that an investigation into the implementation of post execution punishment in Scotland is a relatively unploughed field of study and in turn cannot be assimilated into discussions of England or the wider British experience.

Contact: rb346@le.ac.uk

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