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Prosecution and Punishment

Prosecution and Punishment
Petty Crime and the Law in London and Rural Middlesex, c.1660–1725


Part of Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History

  • Date Published: September 1991
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521400824

$ 154.00

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About the Authors
  • The law was one of the most potent sources of authority and stability in early modern England. Historians, however, have argued over whether the discretion and flexibility embodied in the judicial system was used as a method of social control, and by focusing their attention on felonies and on the action of the protagonists in judicial decisions they have tended to ignore rich sources of information concerning attitudes towards and experiences of the law. Misdemeanour prosecutions affected many more people (and a broader social variety of participants) than felony prosecutions, and in their choice of methods of prosecution both victims and Justices of the Peace exercised considerably greater flexibility in responding to petty crimes than they did with felonies. This book examines the day-to-day operation of the criminal justice system in Middlesex from the point of view of plaintiffs and defendants, and offers an assessment of the social significance of the law in pre-industrial England.

    • Describes how the legal system operated for the majority of ordinary people who came into contact with it - the petty criminals
    • Examines crimes committed in London and the ways in which the criminals were treated - comparing their experiences with those of criminals in rural areas
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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 1991
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521400824
    • length: 372 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.72kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    List of tables
    List of abbreviations and conventions
    Part I. Background:
    1. Introduction
    2. Options for prosecution
    3. Patterns of prosecutions
    Part II. Procedures For Prosecution:
    4. Informal mediation by justices of the peace
    5. Binding over by recognizance
    6. Indictment at quarter sessions
    7. Houses of correction
    Part III. The Contextx of Misdemeanor Prosecutions:
    8. The participants: plaintiffs, defendants, and justices of the peace
    9. The reformation of manners campaign
    10. Geographical contexts
    11. Conclusion

  • Author

    Robert B. Shoemaker, University of Sheffield
    Robert Shoemaker is Professor of Eighteenth-Century British History at the University of Sheffield. Holder of a Ph.D. from Stanford University, he is an expert on London history, gender, and crime and criminal justice in the 'long' eighteenth century.

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