A 'Preston Chronicle' newspaper headline in 1866 of 'Thievery, Knavery & Harlotry in Preston' described a town struggling with crime and its consequences. Justice had been swift from the days of horse thieves and highwaymen with the gloom of the gallows, or transportation, bringing fear to the less fortunate who lived amongst poverty and pestilence. Some would earn notoriety for their dreadful deeds, whilst others received pity for their plight.
In ‘Preston Murders and Misdemeanours’, local author Keith Johnson brings together a collection of true tales from the court archives to chronicle the events that occupied the courts and brought criminals to justice whilst looking back at the mishaps and misfortunes that befell local folk. Judges and justices, coroners and court clerks, barristers and briefs all played their part from times when justice was swift and often delivered harshly with unflinching retribution. The poacher, the pickpocket, the prostitute and the pilfering thief were all punished for their crimes whether petty or paramount.
Keith Johnson tells of those who were murdered, poisoned, mistreated or cheated and they deserve our sympathy. He also reveals the killers, thieves, swindlers and fraudsters who faced the glare of the court room and the long arm of the law extending to ensure many received a severe punishment for their transgressions. This journey through the justice system in this Lancashire city exposes the harsh realities of life and the curiosities of the past that are both compelling and thought-provoking.
Keith is an engineering design/development engineer having worked in the Printing Press industry for over thirty-five years. His hobbies include running, walking, gym training, railways and local history. He has studied history for the last twenty-five years both locally and nationally and has had a number of successful books to his name. He has also contributed numerous articles on local history to the Lancashire Evening Post for the last fifteen years, and is a member of the Crime Writers Association and the Lancashire Authors Association. He currently lives in Preston.