Thieves at the Mississippi Hotel–When Crime Began to Soar


Perth Courier, July 9, 1897


On Friday last a man named John O’Connell was brought in from Carleton Place by Chief Wilson and committed for trial by P. Struthers, J.P. charged with stealing a $5 bill and a silver watch guard from one James Scott in the Mississippi Hotel on the 28th ult.  He denies the charge and has asked for a trial without jury and before the county judge.

William Benger, aged 37, was convicted on 28 March 1829 for stealing twine. He was sentenced to seven years transportation.

Thomas Jacobs, aged 19, was convicted on 17 April 1822 for stealing a handkerchief. He was sentenced to transportation for life. which was later mitigated to 14 years.

John Ellison was convicted  12 January, 1821 of stealing his master’s shirt after a session of grog at the Spotted Dog Tavern. He was sentenced to seven years transportation.

Children were seen a nuisance in the 1800s, especially poor or needy ones. So ships full of children aged 9-16 were sent to the colonies. Like the worst school trip ever.

Crime was soaring because of a rise in population and wealth. The worst of this crime was between 1820-1840. Jails were overflowing which resulted in a lot escapees. There were riots over food costs and availability. The wealthy began carrying guns for protection from thieves.But it was not only thieves who were punished by banishment to reformat institutions and work houses. Children of all ages that were considered “at risk” of becoming a problem to society were treated and punished as if they already committed a crime. Punishment was cruel. Whipping posts sat around town. Adulterers and bigamist received more lashes of the whip than manslaughter. If a woman was believed to have been unfaithful she received thirty lashes and a big A was branded on her forehead with a hot iron so every one that saw her would know what she had done. She also had to wear a heavy device around her neck.

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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