‘Vass, give over; you are killing the woman’ – multiple perspectives on the murder of Margaret Doherty

Rutherford, Helen (2017) ‘Vass, give over; you are killing the woman’ – multiple perspectives on the murder of Margaret Doherty. In: Lives, Trials and Executions: Perspectives on Crime 1700 – 1900, 24th May 2017, Liverpool John Moores University.

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On 27th February, 1863, George Vass was convicted of the murder of Margaret Docherty in Newcastle upon Tyne on New Year’s Eve. There appears to have been little doubt of Vass’s guilt. Some witnesses saw Vass dragging Margaret Doherty towards the West Walls of the city; others saw Vass in an alleyway with a woman around 2am. Vass’s was to be the last public execution in Newcastle upon Tyne; it took place at Newcastle’s Carliol Street Gaol at 8am on Saturday 14th March 1863. The crime, trial and execution were reported widely, both locally and nationally.
The three papers in the panel address this interesting case study of a crime in nineteenth-century Newcastle, an area we believe merits further research. The focus on one case allows us to gain a better appreciation of individual stories within a legal and historical context. A number of studies have demonstrated the advantages of the ‘micro-study’ approach to crime and legal history (including in 2017, ‘Law Crime and Deviance Since 1700’ by Kilday and Nash). Using the thematic areas of ‘Lives Trial and Execution’, from the lens of the Vass case we will explore a broader range of legal, social and cultural questions.
A number of formerly unconnected lives converge in a criminal trial. The Vass case offers an opportunity to explore what is known of the lives of several of the most significant dramatis personae, including the judge, the victim and the accused. In doing so, we aim to shed light on aspects of a legal case rarely – if ever- explored, and to gain a better understanding of the human perspective

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: M900 Other in Law
V300 History by topic
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
Depositing User: Helen Rutherford
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2017 11:58
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2019 12:16
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/31758

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