Elizabeth Brownrigg

Elizabeth Brownrigg flogging her apprentice Mary Clifford.
Frontispiece illustration depicting "The horrid cruelties inflicted by Mrs. Brownrigg upon her apprentices" from God’s revenge against murder! Or, the tragical histories and horrid cruelties of Elizabeth Brownrigg (c. 1767).

Elizabeth Brownrigg (1720 - 1767) was an eighteenth century English midwife who was executed for cruel mistreatment and murder. She had whipped a 14-year-old girl, Mary Clifford, one of her domestic servants, repeatedly and so hard that the girl died from her cumulative injuries and associated infected wounds.

Elizabeth Brownrigg had been given custody of several female children as domestic servants from the London Foundling Hospital. She soon began to severely physically abuse her young charges. This often involved stripping the girls naked, chaining them to wooden beams or pipes, and then whipping them severely with switches, bullwhip handles and other implements for the slightest infraction of her rules.

Elizabeth Brownrigg was convicted for wilful murder and executed by hanging on September 14th, 1767, at Tyburn, London. Crowds condemned her on the way to her execution, and even sixty years later, the Newgate Calendar crime periodical still bore testimony to the impression that Elizabeth Brownrigg's crimes had made on Georgian and Victorian England.


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