Gender, Crime and Judicial Discretion, 1780-1830

Gender, Crime and Judicial Discretion, 1780-1830

Deirdre Palk

Crimes in England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were both committed and judged differently, depending on whether the culprit was male or female.
Based on a wide range of primary material, this book follows the journeys of men and women implicated in the capital crimes of shoplifting, pickpocketing and distributing forged banknotes, through their trials and on to death, transportation, imprisonment or even to complete freedom. This study of the English judicial system in London provides a detailed view of its complex workings, with particular attention to the role, and apparently more lenient treatment, of women. The evidence presented also sheds light on the complex decision-making policies of a criminal justice administration burdened by the weight of increasing criminal business.
DEIRDRE PALK is an independent researcher in eighteenth and nineteenth-century social and administrative history.


This study enhances our understanding of the importance of gender in the working of the criminal justice system and looks set to become a core text for all students of crime, law and gender histories for many years to come. LAW AND HISTORY REVIEW, Summer 2008 This is a fine piece of work. It is well researched, cogently argued and provides a significant and novel perspective on the issues of crime and gender. CRIME, HISTORY AND SOCIETIES, 2008, vol. 12, no. 1

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