Last English woman burned at the stake (414 words)

Historical Context Note

  • Editors


The last woman burned at the stake in England was Christian Bowman who was executed outside Newgate prison on the 18th March 1789. She was found guilty of coining, i.e. adulterating the value of the coinage through clipping or counterfeiting, a crime which carried the charge of “petty treason” and the penalty of death by burning.

Women who murdered their husbands were also charged with “petty treason”, a crime just one step removed from “high treason”, which involved an attempt to murder a high official of the state. The penalty for both crimes was to be burned at the stake. This form of execution was modelled on the penalty for high treason which, for men, involved being partially hung, then cut down from t…

Editors. "Last English woman burned at the stake". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 18 June 2010
[, accessed 23 October 2016.]