By Peter King
How used to be legislations made in England within the eighteenth and early 19th centuries? via special stories of what the courts really did, Peter King argues that parliament and the Westminster courts performed a less significant function within the technique of legislation making than is mostly assumed. Justice used to be usually remade from the margins by means of magistrates, judges and others on the neighborhood point. His booklet additionally makes a speciality of 4 particular subject matters - gender, adolescence, violent crime and the assault on popular rights. In doing so it highlights numerous very important alterations - the really lenient remedy meted out to girls by means of the overdue eighteenth century, the early improvement of the juvenile penal complex in England earlier than 1825, i.e. earlier than comparable adjustments at the continent or in the USA, and the starting to be intolerance of the courts in the direction of daily violence. This research is worthwhile analyzing to somebody attracted to British political and criminal heritage.
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Additional info for Crime and Law in England, 1750–1840
However, it was even more of a problem to individual magistrates. If, as one Lord Chancellor suggested as early as 1756, the statute books were now so swollen ‘that no lawyer, not even one of the longest and most extensive practice, can pretend to be master of all the statutes’, what chance did the average JP have? Not much, if many contemporary observers are to be believed. ‘The statutes of the realm have thus become a sealed book’ one noted. ‘A country gentleman . . could no more dream of opening the statutes and ascertaining for himself the punishment affixed to a given offence .
Clearly in the area of penal policy the precise roles played by parliament, by government bodies, by the assize judges, and by the quarter-sessions magistrates, differed across time and between different areas. 19 It is very difficult to trace either the precise process by which decisions were made or the influence that the different decision-makers may have had on one another, but the main responsibility for taking the initiative in this area seems to have alternated between the courts and parliament, or at the very least to have been shared in different proportions in different subperiods.
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.