Crime And Punishment In England: An Introductory History by John Briggs, Mr John Briggs, Christopher Harrison, Angus

By John Briggs, Mr John Briggs, Christopher Harrison, Angus McInnes, David Vincent

This survey of crime in ENgland from the medieval interval to the current day synthesizes case-study and local-level fabric and standardizes the debates and matters for the coed reader.

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Extra info for Crime And Punishment In England: An Introductory History

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In both cases martial law was declared. The provost marshal was instructed “to apprehend all such [soldiers] as shall not be readily reformed and corrected by the ordinary officers of justice and them without delay to execute upon the gallows”. Martial law implied summary capital punishment. Rebellion provided its crop of London victims; 59 rebels were hanged in London and Southwark after Wyatt’s Revolt in 1554. Most acts could count as treason. In May 1555, a youth was carted and whipped through London for claiming to be Edward VI.

We can see here how the court penetrated into the very heart of home life. Case 5 (1599) Thomas Ward, of Purleigh was presented, as by report, to seek help at sorcerer’s hands. He confessed that he having lost certain cattle & suspecting that they were bewitched, he went to one Tailer in Thaxted, a wizard to know whether they were bewitched or not, and to have his help. We see here the conflict between two belief systems, Christianity and natural religion, and the attempt by the court to regulate the latter.

In Elizabethan Essex, of some 20,000 church court cases 2,000 related to sexual delinquency. In the diocese of York, presentments of sexual immorality formed the largest single category. And as we have seen, nearly a third of church court cases in Elizabethan Wiltshire were for sex offences. We shall return to the issue of sexual regulation below, but it is important first to assess the role of church courts overall and not concentrate on one important yet minor part of their activity. They dealt with a great deal more than illicit sex.

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