The Country Justice and the Case of the Blackamoor's Head

October 2012
12 black and white illustrations
208 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Publications of the Lincoln Record Society
ISBN: 9780901503947
Format: Hardback
Lincoln Record Society
BISAC LAW060000, HIS015000

The Country Justice and the Case of the Blackamoor's Head

The Practice of the Law in Lincolnshire, 1787-1838. Part I: The Justice Books of Thomas Dixon of Riby, 1787-1798; Part II: Papers in the Case of Thorold v. Catton, 1830-1838

Edited by B.J. Davey, R.C. Wheeler

Legal documents from eighteenth and nineteenth-century Lincolnshire provide fascinating insights into life at the time.
The legal system in eighteenth-century England has generally been viewed as an instrument of class justice, imposed by magistrates drawn from the gentry and aristocracy, and weighing harshly on the labouring and servant classes. The rare survival of the justicing notebooks of Thomas Dixon of Riby, as a working farmer an unusual recruit to the magistrates' bench, make it possible to draw a more nuanced picture. The only Lincolnshire magistrate to leave records of his work "out of sessions", his books detail those cases he heard and resolved alone, often "in my house at Riby", between his appointment in 1787 and his death in 1798; they provide an illuminating glimpse of the justice system in operation at its lowest level, where stealers of ducks and absconding servants were brought before a country justice - and reveal procedures frequently not found in other published accounts. The detail furnished by these volumes is amplified with extracts from other records, including those of quarter sessions and parish constables. Edited by B. J. Davey.
The second part of the volume presents papers from an arbitration of 1838 between the licensee of a remote beer house ("The Blackamoor's Head") and the son of the local squire, with the former pressing the latter for repayment of a debt. The near-verbatim evidence describes the behaviour of the "bankers" - the local term for navvies - engaged in deepening the adjoining river. The inn also provided hospitality to drovers who stopped overnight with their beasts en route from Scotland, and their bills provide rare quantitative evidence of the final years of this trade. Edited by R. C Wheeler.

B.J. Davey taught History at the Immingham School and the University of Lincoln; R. C. Wheeler has written widely on cartographic and local history.

Table of Contents

The Justice Books of Thomas Dixon of Riby, 1787-1798: Introduction - Brian Davey
Papers in the Case Thorold v. Catton, 1830-1838: Introduction - Rob Wheeler


This welcome volume offers a unique glimpse into social relations and the experience of community in a rural setting. In particular, it will reward those interested in courts and use of the law, local government and administration, and the economic and social history of eighteenth and nineteenth -century Lincolnshire. RURAL HISTORY

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