2. THE ABDUCTION OF ELIZABETH CANNING
Cor blimey guvnor, ‘eres an ‘ow dee do for ya! Let’s step back in time to the London of 1753, a bustling, smoky, dirty hive of industry where men made money standing up and many women made it lying down. Elizabeth Canning however, was a good girl; a maidservant to publican John Winklebury, who considered her an honest girl, she worked for him for just one year until her untimely disappearance.
She was gone but a month and, upon her return, made a shocking allegation that she had been abducted and forced into the sex industry by two unsavoury women – Mother Wells, the madam of a brothel in Enfield, and her gypsy accomplice Mary Squires.
The charges brought against the two ladies were serious enough to warrant the death sentence for Squires, although this was later repealed by King George II. The public had a field day and almost blindly supported Canning’s case in the High Court.
However, among the braying, the Lord Mayor of London at the time, Sir Crisp Gascoyne, suggested that both the accused had sufficiently watertight alibis even though he could not properly account for Canning’s absence. In the end, Canning was found guilty of perjury but the reasons for her disappearance remain a complete mystery.