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The Murder of Mary Ashford - The Crime that Changed English Legal History - cover

The Murder of Mary Ashford - The Crime that Changed English Legal History

Naomi Clifford

Publisher: Pen & Sword History

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Summary

Historical true crime comes to life with this fictionalized account of a nineteenth-century murder that changed the course of British legal history.  England, 1817. In the small hours of May 27th, a young servant girl from the village of Erdington left a party in the company of a man with a bad reputation. A few hours later, Mary Ashford’s lifeless body was found drowned in a pond.   Despite a seemingly solid alibi, Abraham Thornton is soon on trial for his life—only to be acquitted at the direction of the judge. Public opinion across the country is outraged, with everyone convinced that a murderer has evaded the gallows.   In a last-ditch effort to find justice, Mary’s brother uses an archaic legal process to prosecute Thornton again, only to find himself confronted with an extraordinary challenge. In court, Thornton throws down a gauntlet and demands his legal right to trial by combat . . . and the outcome will alter the course of English legal history.   A many-layered fictionalized account, The Murder of Mary Ashford examines the particulars of this famous case while exploring the birth of forensic investigation, the meaning of sexual consent, and the struggle of a modern state to emerge from its medieval heritage.

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