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

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Overview

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.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of illustrations; List of tables; Acknowledgments; 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; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.
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