A Clear State of the Case of Elizabeth Canning, Who Hath Sworn That She Was Robbed and Almost Starved to Death by a Gang of Gipsies and Other Villains in January Last, for Which One Mary Squires Now Lies Sentence of Death. Henry Fielding.
A Clear State of the Case of Elizabeth Canning, Who Hath Sworn That She Was Robbed and Almost Starved to Death by a Gang of Gipsies and Other Villains in January Last, for Which One Mary Squires Now Lies Sentence of Death

A Canningite vs an Egyptian

A Clear State of the Case of Elizabeth Canning, Who Hath Sworn That She Was Robbed and Almost Starved to Death by a Gang of Gipsies and Other Villains in January Last, for Which One Mary Squires Now Lies Sentence of Death.

London: A. Millar, 1753.

First edition, this with p. 4, l. 3 beginning "to require" [ii], 62 pp. 8vo. A Canningite vs an Egyptian. Uncut, in remboîtage of contemporary half calf and marbled boards, morocco spine label. Joints rubbed, title trimmed at bottom margin, some pale spotting. Cross III, p. 325. Provenance: William Clavering-Cowper, 2nd Earl Cowper (bookplate); William Rees-Mogg (pencil inscription, noting purchase in June 1960 from the Panshanger Collection); John Davidson (bookplate). Item #308070

First edition of Fielding's defense of his conduct in the notorious case of Elizabeth Canning, a young woman who alleged she was kidnapped and held captive by the gypsy Mary Squires and brothel keeper Susannah Wells. Canning was to be forced into prostitution but managed her escape after a month of dismal confinement. Despite inconsistencies in Canning's testimony, the fact that Squires had an alibi, and that the chief witness for the prosecution, the prostitute Virtue Hall, recanted her testimony, Squires and Wells were convicted, with Squires sentenced to death. The controversy generated a large number of pamphlets, books, broadsides and prints, and it divided London into the Canningites and the Egyptians (who sided with the gypsy Mary Squires). Fielding, who was chief magistrate and intimately involved in the investigation, came under attack for his close ties to the prosecution. It was even alleged in the anonymous pamphlet The case of Elizabeth Canning Fairly Stated (1753) that Fielding was paid by Canning supporters to coerce Virtue Hall's testimony. Crisp Gascoygne, Lord Mayor of London, was not content with the handling of the case and reopened the investigation, leading to Canning's arrest and conviction for perjury and the pardoning of Squires.

[bound with:] HILL, John. The Story of Elizabeth Canning Considered by Dr. Hill. With Remarks on What Has Been Called, a Clear State of the Case, by Mr. Fielding; and Answers to the Several Arguments and Suppositions of That Writer. 53, [1] pp. London: M. Cooper, 1753. First edition. With contemporary manuscript identification of Crisp Gascoygne on p. 13. Pamphlet response by Fielding's nemesis John Hill, who censures Fielding for his conduct in the case. Fielding chose not to reply.

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