Crime and Law in England, 1750–1840 by Peter King

By Peter King

How used to be legislation made in England within the eighteenth and early 19th centuries? via specific experiences of what the courts really did, Peter King argues that parliament and the Westminster courts performed a less significant position within the technique of legislations making than is mostly assumed. Justice was once usually remade from the margins by means of magistrates, judges and others on the neighborhood point. His publication additionally makes a speciality of 4 particular issues - gender, formative years, violent crime and the assault on frequent rights. In doing so it highlights quite a few very important adjustments - the quite lenient therapy meted out to girls by means of the past due eighteenth century, the early improvement of the juvenile penitentiary in England earlier than 1825, i.e. sooner than related alterations at the continent or in the USA, and the starting to be intolerance of the courts in the direction of daily violence. This learn is worthwhile studying to someone attracted to British political and felony heritage.

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For an excellent study of the bastardy laws in action – T. Nutt, ‘Illegitimacy and the Poor Law in Late-Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth-Century England’, PhD thesis, University of Cambridge, 2006. 18 crime and law in england 1750–1840 Burn then went on to recommend that ‘in these, and many other such like cases, as in the making of orders of bastardy, levying highway penalties, levying the poor rates – it might be reasonable to give power to one justice to proceed by himself alone’27 . There is considerable evidence that Burn was not exaggerating in his description of magistrates’ frequent disregard for the law in this area.

Burn, The Justice, 16th edn, (1788), i, xvi–xviii which includes a discussion of his practices by his son who took over his mantle after his death in 1785; P. Munsche, Gentlemen and Poachers. The English Game Laws 1671–1831 (Cambridge, 1981); J. Adolphus, Observations on the Vagrancy Act and on Some Other Statutes and on the Powers and Duties of Justices of the Peace (London, 1824); S. Anderson, ‘Discretion and the Rule of Law: The Licensing of Drink in England 1817–40’, Legal History, 23 (2002), 48.

The rules were far from simple on occasions. ’ Rule 40 highlighted the capacity of the courts to effectively ignore the law. 38 Statutes were only one component of the common law-based legal frameworks of the eighteenth century. Other forms of law were also important. In the eighteenth century the map of the law contained many colours. While some very substantial areas were of a statutory hue, others exhibited varying mixtures – a blending of the colours of largely unwritten common law traditions, of patchily recorded judge’s law and of the processes that had emerged from the customary practices of the courts themselves at various levels.

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