A few months ago I read an old Catherine Cookson novel, The Girl, and I am currently rereading Victoria Holt's The Legend of the Seventh Virgin. Both are set in the 1800s and both have scenes in which a mantrap disables one of the characters. The scenes in the books are rather gruesome.
Mantraps are mechanical devices used to catch trespassers and prevent poaching. The poachers were the poor who did not have enough to eat and the mantraps were set on the estates of the wealthy. The use of such an instrument is another sad example of man's inhumanity to man since the victim of such a trap was often maimed for life afterwards--if he lived.
You can read more about mantraps and see photos at http://www.ryemuseum.co.uk/mantrap/ or at http://www.godalmingmuseum.org.uk/index.php?page=man-trap