Around the year 1783 and continuing for years afterwards the weather changed in northern Europe. This was caused by the Laki volcanic eruptions in Iceland.
The results were shorter summers, failed crops and widespread hunger in Britain . More peasants left the countryside and moved to the cities. Unemployment increased and there was a marked increase in beggary and petty crime by starving hordes.
To deal with these crimes, the law was made harsher. More categories were added to the long list of crimes with a penalty of hanging. Children as young as eight years were hung for crimes such as petty thievery of pocket handkerchiefs. Thousands were flung into dungeons or committed to filthy hulks awaiting transportation to such places as America, Canada and after 1776 to the new penal settlement of Botany Bay (Port Jackson) later known as Australia.
The very hardened criminals were hung in Britain.They did not make it to Australia while those who stole to survive or feed their children were sent in chains to the far colonies as slaves for terms of penal servitude.
Some of these unfortunates were my ancestors.
There is no shame to be descended from so- called convicts whose crime was to be poor and have no food or employment, who were guilty of trying to survive in an unjust system.
So I am alive today because of an eruption in Iceland.
Cedric ( Ric) Williams.
Laki eruption, Iceland |
Impacts beyond Iceland
Future large volume fissure eruptions
49 females sentenced to death, 8 hanged and none burned. Elizabeth Lemon was hanged in the Spring of this year for stealing in a shop in Surrey. Henrietta Radbourne was found guilty only of murder and not of Petty Treason.
Thursday 1st March
with 8 men
Forging and uttering a Letter of Attorney
Wednesday 11th April
Thursday 26th April
with 13 men
Wednesday 22nd August
with 2 men
Wednesday 31st October
with 10 men
Friday 14th December
Murder of her mistress, Hannah Morgan