Daniel Defoe was placed in the pillory – On This Day in History

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31 July 2016
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31-July-47025.png Download the works of Daniel Defoe at archive.org
On 31 July 1703, 'Robinson Crusoe' writer Daniel Defoe was publicly punished for publishing a satirical pamphlet arguing Nonconformists should be exterminated...

On this day in history, 1703, Daniel Defoe was placed in the pillory (similar to the stocks) for publication of a satirical pamphlet ostensibly arguing that Nonconformists should be exterminated – evidently conflicting religious ideas was something our ancestors had to deal with just as we do. Legend has it that rather than being pelted with rotten vegetables, etc, the public threw flowers and toasted his health. This pamphlet was just one of 500 works that Defoe published, a remarkable achievement, quite aside from the fact that he was also a trader, and even a spy. 

Explore Defoe’s works at archive.org where facsimiles of some of his out of copyright works are available, for instance Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders – and dont forget to read all prefaces and notes for delicious insights into the workings of an early 18th century mind – for instance his defence of writing fiction (it seems that 'Robinson Crusoe' had met with some disapproval on account this). 

If you have Nonconformist ancestors you can search for their baptism, marriage and burial registers at TheGenealogist.co.uk or BMDRegisters.co.uk 

Family Tree is packed with fantastic tips for tracing your family history every issue! Find out how to subscribe today at www.family-tree.co.uk/store/subscriptions/ 

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