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Courts and Setencing

Key Reading

  • Clive Emsley, Crime and Society in England, chapter 8

Seminar Reading

  • J. S. Cockburn (ed.), Crime in England 1500-1800
  • J. M. Beattie, Crime and the Courts in England 1660-1800
  • Libby Connors, 'Sentencing on a colonial frontier: Judge Therry's decisions at Moreton Bay', Legal History, 2008
  • J Davis, 'A poor man's system of justice: the London police courts', Historical Journal, 1984
  • D. Hay, Peter Linebaugh, John G Rule, E. P. Thompson and Cal Winslow (eds), Albion's Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth-Century England
  • D. Hay, 'Controlling the English Prosecutor', Osgoode Hall Law Journal, 1983
  • D. Hay and F. Snyder (eds), Policing and Prosecution in England
  • Peter King, Crime, Justice and Discretion in England, 1740-1820
  • Peter King, Crime and Law in England
  • J. H. Langbein, ‘The Criminal Trial before the Lawyers’, The University of Chicago Law Review, 45 (1978), pp. 263–316.
  • J. H. Langbein, The Origins of Adversary Criminal Trial
  • A. H. Manchester, A Modern Legal History of England and Wales, 1750-1950
  • Simon Devereaux and Paul Griffiths (eds), Penal Practice and Culture, 1500-1900: Punishing the English
  • Roland Quinault, 'The Warwickshire County Magistracy and Public Order', in John Stevenson and Roland Quinault, Popular Protest and Public Order
  • L. Radzinowicz, History of English Criminal Law and its Administration from 1750
  • G. Rude, Criminal and Victim: Crime and Society in Nineteenth Century England
  • Robert Stevens, Lawyers and the Courts: A Sociological Study of the English Legal System 1750-1965
  • Martin J. Wiener, Reconstructing the criminal : culture, law and policy in England, 1830-1914
  • Martin J. Wiener, ‘Judges v. jurors : courtroom tensions in murder trials and the law of criminal responsibility in nineteenth-century England’, Law and History Review, 17 (1999), pp. 467-506.
  • J. M. Beattie, ‘Scales of Justice: Defence Counsel and the English Criminal Trial in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries’, Law and History Review, 9 (1991), pp. 221–67.
  • David J. A. Cairns, Advocacy and the making of the adversarial criminal trial, 1800-1865
  • S. Landsman, ‘The Rise of the Contentious Spirit: Adversary Procedure in Eighteenth-Century England’, Cornell Law Review, 75 (1990), pp. 498–609.
  • Symposium, ‘The Origins of the Adversary Criminal Trial’, Journal of Legal History, 28:1 (2005), pp. 63–89


  • Whar were the significant changes in prosecution and court practices?
  • Did sentencing practices differ according to a defendant's class, status, gender, race etc?
  • Explain the different court systems
  • What were the deterrents to prosecuting crimes?
  • When and why did Britain adopt an adversarial court system?
  • What was the role of lawyers?
  • How biased were magistrates?
  • How common was trial by jury?
  • Were there changes in popular attitudes towards criminals and victims in this period?