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Description - Prosecution and Punishment by Robert B. Shoemaker

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 preindustrial England. The book includes important discussions of the different methods, both formal and informal, of prosecuting petty crimes; of the importance of status, gender, and individual Justices of the Peace in shaping access to the law; of the attempts by the Societies for the Reformation of Manners from 1690 to manipulate the judicial system in order to enforce systematically the laws against vice; and of the contrasting prosecutorial strategies adopted in rural Middlesex and in different parts of London. The book is based on a careful statistical analysis of thousands of recognizances, indictments, and house of correction commitments, and will be of interest and importance to all social, legal, and London historians of the early modern period.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780521400824
ISBN-10: 0521400821
Format: Hardback
(228mm x 152mm x 25mm)
Pages: 372
Imprint: Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publish Date: 30-Aug-1991
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Author Biography - Robert B. Shoemaker

Robert Shoemaker is Professor of Eighteenth-Century British History at the University of Sheffield. Holder of a Ph.D. from Stanford University, he is an expert on London history, gender, and crime and criminal justice in the 'long' eighteenth century.

Books By Robert B. Shoemaker

Prosecution and Punishment by Robert B. Shoemaker
Paperback, April 2008
Gender in English Society 1650-1850 by Robert B. Shoemaker
Paperback, March 1998