Crime and Punishment Crime and Punishment in by yurtgc548


									Crime and Punishment in
    Georgian Britain
Law as integral to constitution and liberty
Impartial justice, applying equally to mutineers and a governor of Goree who committed murder
• 1970s Marxist or neo-Marxist perspective of
  E.P.Thompson, Douglas Hay and others [Whigs
  and Hunters; Albion’s Fatal Tree]: law as an
  instrument of social or even political control;
  some crime regarded as illegitimate by
  authorities but legitimate by perpetrators eg
  poaching, rioting, wrecking. [So what is ‘crime’?
  John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera (1728) contrasted
  fuss over a few pounds stolen by a highwayman
  and the wholesale corruption of Walpole’s
  regime; what are the causes of crime?]
• John Beattie, Crime and the Courts in England
  1660-1800 (1986), focusing on assize records
The Proceedings of the Old Bailey,
      London 1674 to 1834
• Contains 101,102 trials, from April 1674 to
  October 1834
• Robert Shoemaker, Tim Hitchcock,
• See also Frank McLynn, Peter Linebaugh
                Criminal law
• Tremendous growth in litigation, from C16th.
  Almost 30,000 cases in Court of common pleas
  and King’s bench in 1640; by 1820s an average
  of 72,00 actions a year were started.
• Problem of delay. 1824 commission to
  investigate Chancery found one case with took
  16yrs of preliminary work before a barrister had
  even been briefed, with costs of £3719
• Growth in legal profession. 1739 Society of
  Gentlemen practitioners in the courts of Law and
  Equity; with provincial societies eg Bristol 1770,
  York 1786
• 200 prosecutions in the
  decade 1795-1805
• Seditious libel, seditious
• Riot and breaking the
  peace: 3 or more
  assembled to do an
  unlawful acts constituted
  riot; 1715 riot act required
  groups of 12 or more to
  disperse within an hour of
  the reading of the
             Property and game
• Informal resolution
• Extension of the death penalty [the Bloody Code]
   – Number of capital offences increased from just over 50 in 1688
     to 160 in 1765 and 225 by 1815
   – Many of these related to game: there were 24 acts 1671-1832
     regulating the hunting of game. 1752 Association for the
     Preservation of Game – pressure groups.
   – 1723 Black Act created 50 capital offences and responded to
     poaching by those who ‘blackened’ their faces (response to 1722
     Atterbury Plot – jacobite - repealed 1823); 1741 and 1742 theft of
     sheep and cattle became capital offences
   – For theft of monetary notes, deeds, bills [1742, 1751, 1767,
     1795, 1797]
   – Shoplifting [1699, for goods worth 5s]
– But
   • There were four times as many executions in the early C17th
     as there were in 1750
   • 50-60% of those sentenced to death were pardoned (except
     in years of crisis eg high rate of executions in 1780s); 90% by
     early C19th
   • There were only about 20 people a year hung in London and
     Middlesex at end of century; about 60 for rest of country
   • Benefit of clergy (1706 reading test abolished; though many
     crimes specifically exempt eg murder, rape)
   • Influence of Enlightenment ideas. Jeremy Bentham:
     punishment should fit crime in a scientific manner
   • Informal resolution, discretionary system via JPs, who part of
     a community; jury leniency
   • Does the flexibility in the system give the elite more power –
     discretion was empowering? [Frank McLynn]
• Shift from public to private (pillory infrequently used after
  1775, abolished 1837; public whipping of women
  abolished 1817 after being infrequently used after 1775,
  but private whippings increased; hanging transferred
  after 1782 to Newgate)
• and from physical punishments such as whipping,
  branding and hanging to reform through imprisonment
  and transportation eg last branding 1789; burning at
  stake abolished 1790; 1718 Transportation Act allowed
  those guilty of capital offences to be transported (30,000
  were from england, 13,000 from Ireland); disrupted by
  American war; prison hulk ships on Thames to house
  gangs used to dredge the river; resumed 1787 to
After 1752 those convicted of murder were sentenced to death with
                dissection or to be hung in chains
•   No police force
•   Parish officials eg constable; watch; unpaid
    JPs – numbers increased (more than doubled
    in Sussex 1680-1760) but many not active;
    informers could sometimes lead to self-
    surveillance eg £40 for information leading to
    capture of a highwayman
•   1740s Henry and John Fielding appointed
    magistrate at Bow Street, London –
    innovators. 1750 appointed a select force from
    existing parish constables to curb criminal
•   But anxiety about a professional police force
    (french!) in hands of government
•   1811, after a series of horrific murders in
    wapping, one contemporary said that ‘they
    have an admirable police force at Paris, but
    they pay for it dear enough. I had rather half a
    dozen men’s throats should be cut in Radcliffe
    highway every three or four years than be
    subject to the domicilary visits, spies and all
    the rest of Fouchés contrivances’
•   1829 Metropolitan Police Act introduced by
    Peel, replacing parish constable with a
    professional force, unarmed but uniformed.
    Still encountered resistance – in 1833 a jury
    returned a verdict of ‘justifiable homicide’ on a
    policeman who had been killed breaking up a
    political meeting.
• London courts (King’s Bench, chancery,
  exchequer, common pleas)
• Local courts (ecclesiastical – in decline);
  manorial (local estate matters); borough (market
  but also social); quarter sessions (roads, poor
  relief, social); assizes (twice a year, conducted
  by judges, with local grand jury; social event with
  assize sermon; heard serious crime eg murder,
  rape, burglary)
•   Usually seen as means of holding men prior to trial
•   Jails were private enterprises, with fees
•   New attitudes esp after 1770s eg 1771 John Howard investigated prisons
    and found many abuses: deficient food, poor sanitation, overcrowding,
    disease-ridden; no segregation of sexes
•   1791 Bentham’s Panopticon as blue print for ideal prison - surveillance
•   Houses of correction: idea of rehabilitation or punishment for petty offence;
    workhouse and prison. 1779 act recommended building of more
•   1794 Coldbath Fields House of Correction used solitary confinement; 1817
    similar Millbank Penitentiary
Execution as public spectacle
        ‘Popular’ attitudes to crime
•   Popular ‘Entertainment’ and public theatre
•   Criminal was allowed to dress up for the occasion
•   Procession to Tyburn, often stopping to drink along the way
•   Samuel Richardson: ‘The face of everyone spoke a kind of mirth, as if the
    spectacle afforded pleasure in stead of pain, which I am wholly unable to
    account for ….every street and lane I passed through bearing rather the
    face of a holiday that of that sorrow which I expected to see’
•   James Boswell: ‘I must confess that I myself am never absent from a public
    execution … when I first attended them I was shocked to the greatest
    degree. I was in a manner convulsed with pity and terror, and for several
    days, but especially the night after, I was in a very dismal situation. Still,
    however I persisted in attending them and by degrees my sensibility abated;
    so that I can now see one with great composure …the curiosity which
    impels people to be present at such affecting scenes is certainly a proof of
    sensibility, not callousness. For it is observed that the greatest proportion of
    spectators is composed of women’
          Celebrated criminals
• The criminal biography. Capt Alexander Smith’s
  Compleat History of the Lives and Robberies of the Most
  Notorious highwaymen, foot-pads, shop-lifts and Cheats
  (1719); Capt Charles Johnson’s General history of the
  Lives and Adventures of the Most Famous Highwaymen,
  Murderers, Street-robbers and …Pyrates (1734); The
  Tyburn Chronicle (1768)
• John Rann, Sixteen String Jack because of the silk
  strings he tied to the knee of his breaches; he robbed
  only the rich.
• Jonathan Wild, b. 1682, hanged 1725. instructed thieves
  to steal from people they could identify since they would
  pay for return of goods.
• Highwaymen eg Dick Turpin, who operated in early
  C18th Epping Forest; hung 1739
                    The Newgate Calendar
•   A famous Highway Robber, who shot dead one of his own
    Comrades and was executed at York On 7th of April, 1739
•   This notorious character was for a long time the dread of travellers
    on the Essex road, on account of the daring robberies which he
    daily committed; was also a noted house-breaker, and was for a
    considerable time remarkably successful in his desperate course,
    but was at length brought to an ignominious end, in consequence of
    circumstances which, in themselves, may appear trifling. He was
    apprehended in consequence of shooting a fowl, and his brother
    refusing to pay sixpence for the postage of his letter occasioned his
•    He was the son of a farmer at Thackstead in Essex; and, having
    received a common school education, was apprenticed to a butcher
    in Whitechapel; but was distinguished from his early youth for the
    impropriety of his behaviour, and the brutality of his manners. On
    the expiration of his apprenticeship, be married a young woman of
    East Ham, in Essex, named Palmer: but he had not been long
    married before he took to the practice of stealing his neighbours'
    cattle, which he used to kill and cut up for sale.
•    Having stolen two oxen belonging to Mr. Giles, of Plaistow, he
    drove them to his own house; but two of Giles's servants,
    suspecting who was the robber, went to Turpin's where they saw
    two beasts of such size as had been lost: but as the hides were
    stripped from them, it was impossible to say that they were the
    same: but learning that Turpin used to dispose of his hides at
    Waltham-Abbey, they went thither, and saw the hides of the
    individual beasts that had been stolen.
•    No doubt now remaining who was the robber, a warrant was
    procured for the apprehension of Turpin; but, learning that the
    peace-officers were in search of him, he made his escape from the
    back window of his house, at the very moment that the others were
    entering at the door.
•    Having retreated to a place of security, he found means to inform
    his wife where he was concealed; on which she furnished him with
    money, with which he travelled into the hundreds of Essex, where
    he joined a gang of smugglers, with whom he was for some time
    successful; till a set of the Custom house officers, by one successful
    stroke, deprived him of all his ill-acquired gains.
JACK COLLET ALIAS COLE Highwayman, who robbed in the Habit of
  a Bishop. Executed at Tyburn, 5th of July, 1691, for Sacrilegious
THIS unfortunate person was the son of a grocer in the borough of Southwark,
   where he was born, and from whence, at fifteen years of age, he was put out
   apprentice to an upholsterer in Cheapside. He did not serve above four years
   of his time before he ran away from his master and took to the highway. We
   have not an account of abundance of his robberies, though it is said he
   committed a great many; but there is this remarkable particular recorded of
   him, that he frequently robbed in the habit of a bishop, with four or five of his
   companions at his heels in the quality of servants, who were ready to assist
   him on occasion. Collet had once the ill fortune to lose his canonical habit at
   dice, so that he was forced to take a turn or two on the road to supply his
   present necessities in unsanctifying garments. But it was not long before he
   met with a good opportunity of taking orders again and becoming as holy as
   ever. Riding from London down into Surrey, a little on this side of Farnham, he
   met with Dr Mew, Bishop of Winchester, and commanded his coachman to
   stop. The Bishop was not at all surprised at being asked for his money,
   because when he saw his coach stopped he expected that would follow. But
   when Collet told him he must have his robes too, his lordship thought him a
   madman. There was no resisting, however; the old doctor was obliged to strip
   into his waistcoat, besides giving him about fifty guineas, which Collet told him
   he had now a right to demand, by having the sacerdotal habit in his
   possession. Collet followed this trade till he was about thirty-two years of age,
   and, as if he had been determined to live by the Church, he was at last
   apprehended for sacrilege and burglary, in breaking open the vestry of Great
   St Bartholomew's, in London, in company with one Christopher Ashley, alias
   Brown, and stealing from thence the pulpit cloth and all the communion plate.
   For this fact he received sentence of death, and was executed at Tyburn on
   Friday, the 5th of July, in the year 1691. This Brown and Collet had before
   robbed St Saviour's Church, in Southwark.
• ‘wrecking’ seen as a customary right
• Often tea, though reduction in tax in 1784
  reduced levels
• 1746 it became a capital offence to
  smuggle or prevent capture of smugglers;
  1784 act make it a capital offence not to
  surrender goods to a revenue officer
           Was there a rise in crime?
•   Contemporary perceptions – Henry Fielding, An Enquiry into the Causes of
    the late Increase of Robbers, and some Proposals for Remedying this
    Growing Evil (1751). Patrick Colquoun estimated in early C19th that of pop
    of 10.5m, 1.3m were indigent and criminal. Role of the press?
•   but problem of evidence – does increasing number of indictments reflect
    actual rise or better prosecution?
•   Regional variation. London was a special case – 0.5m in late C17th but 1m
    by early C19th, 1/10th of population. Anonymity. Gangs and footpads
    (armed robbers on foot) eg Jumping Joe Lorrison, executed 1792, had cat-
    like ability to jump into carts and rob them. Pickpockets – around the
    theatres. Duke of Cumberland had is sword stolen on way in to theatre;
    George III had his watch stolen in Kensington palace gardens. The Thames
    as source of smuggled goods.
•   Regional studies suggest violent crime was falling. Beattie found that in
    Surrey and Sussex murder and manslaughter cases fell from 2.5% per
    100,000 in 1660-1679, to 0.3% per 100,000 in 1780-1802.
•   Property offences increased after a dip in mid C18th; blips after
    demobilisation. Study of crime in North East [Morgan and Rushton] showed
    peak of property offences in 1750s and then 1780s and 1790s; but also high
    incidence of female involvement [a third of accused in Durham and
    Northumberland were women, half in Newcastle]; and increasingly urban
                                   Gin Lane.
   1736 act attempted to regulate it; 1751 act most successful, and this print from that year (when
consumption was about 11m gallons; one in every 15 houses sold alcohol; excessive drinking thought
                     to be cause of death for about one in eight adults c. 1800
             Sexual crime
• petty treason was a servant killing a
  master or a wife killing a husband (1351
• Sexual offences including bigamy [1753
  Hardwicke Marriage act clarified what
  constituted a marriage]
• 1782 comments by one judge on beating
Judge Buller and the rule of thumb
                                    Prostitution –
c.40-50,000 in early C19th London; Defoe, Moll Flanders (based on Moll King, executed 1720);
        Hogarth’s Harlot’s progress depicted decline of country girl into a poxed whore
    Campaigns for moral reform
• Impact of religious toleration?
• Two major campaigns: 1689-1720 (75,000
  prosecutions0; 1780s (crisis after war with America),
  1787 proclamation vs vice and 1787 Proclamation
  Society, had strong Pittite support but never really a
  popular movement; 1802 Society for the Suppression of
  Vice did have greater lower social appeal, to bring about
• Drew on religious zeal and fear of immorality but also
  idea of moral failings of criminals and political loss of
  virtue/public spirit
• Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge founded
• 1702 Society for Propagation of the Gospel Overseas
• 1783-4 Sunday school movement, 1785 Sunday School
  Society; evangelical movement;
        What is the purpose of

• Deterrent?
• Retribution?
• Rehabilitation?

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