State v. Mary Doherty Analytical Essay by Nicky

State v. Mary Doherty
This paper looks at the court case of Mary Doherty, a young girl charged with murdering her father.
# 146936 | 983 words | 3 sources | APA | 2010 | US

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In this article, the writer discusses that in the early part of the 19th century, in some cases children under the age of 14 were not convicted of crimes that they had obviously committed because they were believed to be incapable of testifying accurately. The writer looks at the case of Mary Doherty who was charged with the murder pf her father. The writer concludes that a twelve or thirteen year-old girl was found innocent of a crime she certainly appeared to have committed - all because she was younger than 14, and possibly because the jury believed her silence had been created by God Himself.

From the Paper:

"According to Holly Brewer's book Birth or Consent: Children, Law, and the Anglo-American Revolution in Authority, state superior court cases show today's researchers that there was a ''profound transformation in attitudes toward culpability'' and an accused young person's age was becoming critical, in the early 19th Century, to not only deciding what the punishment should be, but ''guilt itself''. In fact, Brewer writes, most criminal court decisions set fourteen as the minimum age for witness testimony in criminal cases.
"Mary Doherty was either twelve or thirteen years of age when she allegedly killed her father with an axe in Tennessee in 1806; accounts differ as to whether she was twelve or thirteen. She was charged with murdering her father, chopping up his body and burying the body parts under the floorboards of the house. According to Brewer's account, the father was a drunkard, and two of his four children had run away, while Mary, the oldest, had stayed home. The suggestion is that the father was possibly abusive, although there was no evidence available to verify that."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Brewer, Holly. (2005). By Birth or Consent: Children, Law, and the Anglo-American Revolution in Authority. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  • (2006). State v. Mary Doherty, 2 Overton's Tenn. Reports 80 (1806). Retrieved November 27, 2008, from
  • Kaye, Neil S. (2006). Feigned Insanity in Nineteenth Century America Legal Cases. Court Psychiatrist. Retrieved November 26, 2008, from

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

State v. Mary Doherty (2011, January 26) Retrieved December 03, 2023, from

MLA Format

"State v. Mary Doherty" 26 January 2011. Web. 03 December. 2023. <>