The Unwritten Law
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The Unwritten Law : Criminal Justice in Victorian Kent

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Description

In the 1870s, a Kentish woman who had been repeatedly beaten by her lover retaliated by blinding him with sulphuric acid. The judge sentenced her to five years in prison. In contrast, a man who put out the eyes of a woman who left him was sentenced to only four months after telling the judge that he 'was regularly drove to do it from her aggravation'. Making innovative use of court and police records, Carolyn Conley has written a lively account of criminal justice in Victorian England. She examines the gap between the formal laws and the unwritten law of the community, as well as the ways in which judges, juries, and police officers acted as mediators between the two. The book analyses the treatment of lawbreakers according to class, gender, and community status, and in so doing presents a vivid portrait of standards of propriety and justice at the time.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 156.5 x 213.4 x 23.4mm | 517.1g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • tables, map
  • 0195063384
  • 9780195063387

Review quote

'Carolyn Conley has given us a useful book about crime in Kent between 1859 and 1880. Her book is full of good stories. It is also well written. Her study reminds us that the operation of justice in Victorian England remained to a considerable degree a local affair. The strength of this work lies in Conley's sensitivity to the influence of status and relationship upon the operation of the law.' Randall McGowan, University of Oregon, The American Journal of Legal History, Vol. XXXVIII, 1994 'vivid and convincing ... Her most important sources are the Home Office criminal registers, the records of the local courts ... on numerous individual cases. The detailed descriptions of these cases are what make the book so appealing. Taken together they substantiate the author's main conclusions which, though not entirely new, have never been so well documented. Conley's local study is a successful and, what is more, very readable example of criminal justice history 'from below'.' Willibald Steinmetz, German Historical Institute London Bulletin, Volume XVI, No. 1, February 1994 'vivid and convincing ... Conley's local study is a successful and, what is more, very readable example of criminal justice history 'from below'.' German Historical Institute London Bulletin, Volume XVI, No. 1, February 1994 `Conley's case is well argued and convincing ... this is a useful and thought-provoking book. Conley has confronted several questions which have previously only been touched upon. She has taken significant steps in furthering our knowledge of the workings of the criminal justice system, and in doing so she has drawn attention to other, probably fruitful areas, for research.' British Journal of Criminologyshow more