MURDER AND OTHER CRIMES
LECTURE 5: OCTOBER 5TH, 2012
TOPIC: BRODE, DEATH IN THE QUEEN CITY, PP. 1-74
➔ Topic: Women who murder
• Hilda Blake → 21 years old and shot her mistress
• Lizzie Borden → killed her step mother and father
• 274 murder convictions
• Some feel that men are more violent than women, some feel that women are just socialized
differently. There is a tendency for male chivalry to exist in the law system. It is a system
dominated by males therefore juries are hesitant to convict a woman.
• Awoman's experiences and routine are historically different from a man's routine because
women were not typically employed, allowed to be involved in the public sphere, or drink
as much alcohol as men.
• Alarge amount of women today are convicted of killing their children. Have women and
men moved in separate spheres? 14% of murder convictions are by women. We should try
and understand why women do not kill.
➔ Hilda Blake
• Housemaid in Manitoba and on July 5 , 1899 killed her mistress.
• Born in 1879 in England, her people were poor farmers and her father was a police
• He had a drinking problem and was fired and rehired many times.
• When Hilda was eight her father died and two years later her mother died making her and
her little brother orphans at the age of 10.
• Average life expectancy in England was in the 40's so parents dying and leaving their
children was not surprising.
• As an orphan your funds would become much more limited.
• She was sent to the local work house at the age of 10. They sent you to work all day, had
harsh rules and a harsh regime. Soul destroying places but at least you would not starve. Not
the best environment for children.
• They were called “inmates” → stigmatization.
• Orphans were young, healthy and could work.
• Organizations came up with all sorts of schemes for orphan children such as sending them
to the military.
➔ Labor was still in very short supply so they needed to import.
• Atransfer of labor across theAtlantic.
• 80, 000 pauper children arrived in Canada (1869).
• These are seen as a business arrangement not a romanticized adoption.
• They were put with a family and sent to do work such as working on a farm.
• Immigration was increasing at the time.
• Orphans and the poor got a chance to live a useful life.
• Immigration society helped to send large amounts of people to Canada.
• 11 year old Hilda Blake (clothes on back and a tag on clothes), was put on a boat and arrived in Halifax with her brother.
• Then she was put on train alone to Manitoba and settled with a farming family in a small
village. She became the maid (household chores).
• There was possibility of abuse, sexual abuse and to be exploited. She left to live with a
neighboring family and we know this because the farming family took legal action.
• She ended up working in Winnipeg.
• She floated around a lot because she had no skills or family.
• Live in servant in Robert and Mary Lane's home in Manitoba.
• It was an up and coming place. Robert made deliveries, them became the largest freight
mover (ex. Hulling coal and ice).
• He was fairly well off and successful.
• He has 3 children with his wife Mary in a mansion.
• She was 20 and spent about a year working in the lands.
• No complaints or issues with her.
➔ July 5 th
• Hilda walked about Mary and shot her twice in the back and Mary ran outside screaming
with her blouse full of blood, collapsed on the street and died before the police arrived.
• Died at 32 years old.
• Hilda had asked for food, Mary said no and she shot her.
• Everything that was not proper especially in a Victorian society where everything is proper.
• Shifty and dangerous foreigner, Ultimate other.
• They called Hilda a tramp which created a moral panic because what does this mean if a
woman is capable of such violence?
➔ The case was high profiled, murder at the time was almost unheard of. Police had some doubts
about this story because there were holes in the story Hilda told.
• Chief James → found a gun dealer who could identify Hilda as a woman who bought a gun
and asked how to use it. She confessed immediately. What she said could be used against
her. She was warned pleading guilty would result in her execution and she did not occur.
She would not testify.
➔ Why kill Mary, a woman who treated her well and who was respected by the community.
• Servants were isolated, had poor pay and lived in poor conditions.
• Some servants were at risk for sexual attacks.
• Women had to make a choice: honour or keeping their job.
➔ While she was in jail she wrote a long poem called “My Downfall”. She states that the devil
• Could the devil be a way of saying Robert raped her?
• Why did she not speak up when being sentenced to die?
• She did have an affair with Robert but did not speak of it because it was agreed upon with
• She killed Mary because she wanted to be the new Mrs. Lane. Maybe Hilda was betrayed by
➔ Hilda had stepped too far.Alower class domestic servant killed a middle class woman in her
own home → could not be forgotten in Victorian times. She was hung on December 27 . She th
was one of on