Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Jacob Selwood

Second Advisor

Ian Fletcher


Despite the vast research on early modern English criminology and execution practices, focus tends to gravitate towards the eighteenth-century due to the excessively high number of crimes punishable by death during that period. As a result, fewer historians have considered the nature of capital punishment during the seventeenth century, prior to the Bloody Code. Through a thorough analysis of various Tyburn execution pamphlets, as well as of a number of legal documents and popular literature, this study shows that, while eighteenth-century capital punishments sought to restore order according to the hierarchy of capitalism, the seventeenth century used public executions as a way of restoring order in a system dominated by Christian patriarchy. Thus, this study of the gendered nature of criminality and executions will extend the historical dialogue back into an earlier century when the shift between hierarchies of order was just beginning.