Crime and the law, particularly during the period of the Hanoverian Bloody Code, has been a popular area of research for a quarter of a century. The publications that emerged from Edward Thompson and the young scholars who gathered round him at Warwick in the late 1960s and early 1970s were the inspiration for much of the recent work.
Interest in Jack the Ripper continues to be insatiable. New books, articles and webpages on the subject appear almost weekly - a Google search on 'Jack the Ripper' yields nearly 197,000 online references with varying degrees of accuracy and seriousness, the front-runner being www.casebook.org.
The second half of the eighteenth century saw a revolution in the character of the English criminal trial. What we observe, Allyson May informs us, is 'the transformation of the criminal trial from a private altercation between victim and accused into a contest between paid advocates' (p. 1).
Andrea McKenzie begins her preface to Tyburn's Martyrs by attempting to locate the 18th-century Tyburn execution in the broader modern cultural context.
25 years ago, in a provocative reconsideration of English political and social history, English Society 1688–1832, J. C. D.
The Proceedings of the Old Bailey have only been available to historians online since 2003 but, speaking as someone who probably visits the site two or three times a week, I am bound to wonder at how we all managed before then.
Underpinning a good deal of the scholarship on the history of crime in early modern England is the careful and systematic analysis of the records of the busy criminal courts. The most heavily exploited of these records have been the Assize courts and their metropolitan equivalent, the Old Bailey, for examining the experiences and patterns of crime and the administration of the law.
Happiness is researching someone with a unique name. At least, that’s the case in the research environment created by the brilliant new resource, London Lives 1690–1800 – Crime, Poverty and Social Policy in the Metropolis.
This is a book which could very easily slip under the radar of most historians. Even had they noticed the title, and had their curiosity piqued by the sub-title, after checking the academic discipline of the author (Julian Rivers is Professor of Jurisprudence at Bristol University) many might well have decided that this book was probably of no professional interest to them.
Law and Politics in British Colonial Thought, as its titles implies, covers a vast area of historical interest. While the editors do not call their collection systematic, they do hope to present new ways of thinking to a wide audience; a task in which they succeed, both in terms of approaching localised issues and addressing overarching theoretical and geographical frameworks.