Please Note: This is my original writing based on a more extensive paper on this topic I wrote for my "Analytical Bibliography" class in Library School years ago. There is no more anal retentive a discipline in the universe than analytical bibliography.

The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals (New York: Dutton) was written in 1906 by Edward Payson Evans (1831-1917). According to the Introduction this book is "The result of the revision and expansion of two essays entitled 'Bugs and beasts before the law', and 'Modern and medieval punishment', which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, in August and September 1884."

This book is a small counterweight to the evolving field of animal law wherein animals have standing in court for prosecuting humans. Evans' work compiles historical anecdotes and evidence of both secular and ecclesiastical legal proceedings against animals. Most of the trials cited resulted in the execution of the offending animals. Pigs are singled out as notorious infanticides during medieval times. The frontispiece of the 1906 Dutton edition contains an illustration of the formal execution of a pig by hanging. The pig attired in a short jacket appears to be squealing while the executioner places a noose around the thick neck of the swine. A boisterous crowd looks upon the proceedings.

In particular, acts of bestiality resulted in the prosecution and execution of both man and beast. A notable exception is cited on pages 150-151:

In the case of Jacques Ferron, who was taken in the act of coition with a she-ass at Vanvres in 1750, and after due process of law, sentenced to death, the animal was acquitted on the ground that she was the victim of violence and had not participated in her master's crime of her own free-will. The prior to the convent, who also performed the duties of parish priest, and the principal inhabitants of the commune of Vanvres signed a certificate stating that they had known the said she-ass for four years, and that she had always shown herself to be virtuous and well-behaved both at home and abroad and had never given occasion of scandal to any one, and that therefore "they were willing to bear witness that she is in word and deed and in all her habits of life a most honest creature." This document, given at Vanvres on Sept. 19, 1750, and signed by "Pintuel Prieur Cure" and the other attestors, was produced during the trial and exerted a decisive influence upon the judgement of the court. As a piece of exculpatory evidence it may be regarded as unique in the annals of criminal prosecutions.

A confusing case of possible plagiarism involves an Italian, Carlo D'Addosio, and his Bestie Delinquenti published in 1892 by Napoli's L. Pierro press. Specifically, both Evans' and D'Addosio's books contain unattributed identical tables which chronologically list excommunications and prosecutions of animals between 800 and 1900 AD. Since Evans published his book in 1906 fourteen years after D'Addosio's book was published in 1892, it is possible that Evans appropriated D'Addosio's 1892 table, if not the bulk of D'Addosio's entire scholarship! However, since Evans published his original essays in 1884, eight years before D'Addosio's book was published, Bestie Delinquenti might be the offending work. This case of skullduggery among scholars is for the more analytically inclined to pursue.

Based on the date of publication and before Sonny Bono's widow screwed up copyright law, The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals should be in the public domain hence a candidate for digitization by Project Gutenberg. Print copies can still be found in many libraries. A title search of OCLC's WorldCat indicates fairly wide availability of The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals:

  • Union, NJ : Lawbook Exchange (1998 reprint) edition in 40 libraries
  • London : Faber (1987 reprint) edition in 147 libraries
  • NY : Dutton (1906) in 24 libraries
  • London : W. Heineman (1906) in 79 libraries
D'Addosio's Bestie Delinquenti is a bit more difficult to acquire. A search of OCLC's WorldCat indicates that only seven libraries own the original published by L. Pierro (Naples) in 1892; The Neapolitan publisher F. Pagano apparently reprinted Bestie Delinquenti in 1992, with that edition held by a mere five libraries.

Print this out and take it to your local Reference Librarian for assistance in retrieving these books.

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