Constantia Jones

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Constantia Jones (c.1708—December 22, 1738[1][2]) was a prostitute in London, United Kingdom during the term of Prime Minister Robert Walpole, who was sentenced to hang for stealing 36 shillings and a half-guinea from one of her clients.[3] Her accuser, describing her as "a three-penny upright," testified as follows: "As I stood against the Wall, [she] came behind me, and with one hand she took hold of . . . --and the other she thrust into my Breeches Pocket and took my Money."[3] Based on this testimony, Jones was sentenced to hang at Tyburn.[3]

Jones, who had been sent to the notorious prison at Newgate some twenty times before, was 30 years old upon her execution.[3] Historian Peter Linebaugh asserts that regardless of her guilt or innocence, her conviction on such flimsy evidence indicates the bias of 18th-century English courts against the trade of prostitution and those who worked in the industry.[4] Although officially London courts took all persons as equally worthy, class distinctions were still operative, and therefore testimony from a "gentleman," in particular, would weigh heavily against that of a prostitute.[5] Jones would have been a weak defendant, as she had been in Newgate on multiple occasions.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Deaths in History on December 22". OnThisDay.com. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Female executions 1735 – 1799". Capital Punishment U.K. Archived from the original on 9 June 2004. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Linebaugh 2003, p. 147.
  4. ^ Linebaugh 2003, p. 144.
  5. ^ McEnery & Baker 2016.
  6. ^ Linnane 2004.

Sources[edit]