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Report No. 35

(16) Stabbing

In view of frequent outrages committed by person of flammable spirit and deep resentment, who, wearing short daggers under their clothes stabbed a person on slight provocation,1 an Act was passed in 16042 which made it a capital offence without benefit of clergy to stab or thrust any person (who had not any weapon drawn or who had not struck the party stabbing or thrusting) so that the person stabbed or thrust died within 3 months, although it could not be proved that the same was done of malice aforethought.

1. Radzinowicz History of English Criminal Law, (1948), Vol. 1, p. 630 and foot-note 93.

2. Stabbing Act, 1604 (1 Jac. 1, C. 8 ).

(17) Mayhem or maiming

By an Act of 1670,1 a person who on malice aforethought unlawfully cut off or disabled the tongue, put out an eye or slit the nose, lips, etc., or disabled any limb or any member of a subject of His Majesty, was to suffer death without benefit of clergy.

1. Coventry Act, 1670 (22 and 23 Car. 2, C. 1), section 7.

(18) Shooting in dwelling house

By an Act of 1722,1 a person wilfully and maliciously shooting at any person in a dwelling house or other place was punishable with death, whether or not his action resulted killing or maiming. The shooting had to be malicious, and therefore should amount to murder if death had ensued, and it must have been with a gun and other instrument so loaded as to create danger for the party aimed at, the probable consequence of which would be to kill or maim and the gun, etc., also had to be levelled at him, according to the Act as interpreted.2

The Act contained several other provisions punishing other offences with death, but these are not relevant under the present head.

1. Waltham Black Act, 1722 (9 Geo. 1, C. 22).

2. Radzinowicz History of Criminal Law, (1948), Vol. I, pp. 69-70.

(19) Ships

Under an Act of 1753,1 it was a capital offence to beat or wound, with intent to kill or destroy, or otherwise wilfully to obstruct the escape of any person endeavouring to save his or her life from a ship or vessel or from the wreck thereof. (The Act was primarily designed to ensure the protection of ships in distress).

1. Stealing Ship-wrecked Goods Act, 1753 (26 Geo. 2, C. 19), section 1.

(20) Causing of Miscarriage

Under Lord Ellenborough's Act,1 administering poison or any other noxious and destructive substance with intent to cause miscarriage was a capital offence.

1. Lord Ellenborough's Act, 1803 (43 Geo. 3, C. 58), section 1.

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