Oxford Quarter Sessions Order Book, 1614-1637

November 2009
234 pages
21.6x13.8 cm
Oxford Historical Society New Series
ISBN: 9780904107227
Format: Hardback
Oxford Historical Society

Oxford Quarter Sessions Order Book, 1614-1637

Edited by Robin Blades

Introduction by Alan Crossley

Records of the crimes committed in Oxford, and the punishment meted out, reveal much of life at the time.
Most historical studies of English justices of the peace have concentrated on the work of county commissions, leaving the sparser records of city and borough justices largely neglected. This early order book of the city of Oxford's justices in quarter sessions illustrates the special problems of an urban magistracy in a rather special place, at a time when both university and city were feeling the strain of rapid population growth in a cramped environment. It shows, sometimes in harrowing detail, how the Oxford Bench [an unusual mix of shopkeepers, brewers, lawyers, and university dons] struggled to control crime, vagrancy, disorder, and poverty in a divided community. Much of the business of these early seventeenth-century courts would be all too familiar to the modern magistrate: an endless stream of cases of petty larceny, assault, abusive behaviour, unlicensed ale-selling; hopeless recidivists testing the patience of the court to its limit. The sanctions available to the seventeenth-century JP, however, were very different, fines and imprisonment being much less common than consignment to the whipping post, the cage, the stocks, the ducking stool, the House of Correction and, when all else failed, the gallows.

Table of Contents

Oxford Quarter Sessions Order Book
Index of Names and Places
Index of Subjects

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