The cruel mistress, being the genuine trial of Elizabeth Branch and her own daughter, for the murder of Jane Butterworth, their servant maid …

London: printed for C. Simpson, 1740

Public opinion was united on the subject of the guilt of Elizabeth Branch and her daughter; even by late eighteenth century standards the Branch women were cruel to the point of sadism. Former servants and neighbours all gave evidence of the torture they inflicted on their servants, including a boy who was forced to eat his own excrement. In this case the medical report stated that Butterworth was whipped until the flesh on her fingers was stripped away and tendons were exposed. The practice of training orphans as domestic servants continued into the nineteenth century, making them vulnerable to barbaric treatment by their employers.


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