In the spring of 1844 a woman was rescued from the Regent’s Canal in London. Her name was Mary Furley and she was a 40-year-old single mother who, reduced to destitution and unable to face the workhouse, had jumped into the canal with her infant son.
Mary was saved but the boy was never found. She was tried, found guilty of infanticide and sentenced to hang. Her case became a cause célèbre in early Victorian England, with many prominent people arguing that poverty had driven her to distraction and she should be shown mercy. Her death sentence was later commuted to transportation for seven years
Answered by: Nick Rennison