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CaP Early Modern

Crime and Punishment (Early Modern)

Dates? 1500-1750
Continuity? Petty crime (theft) most common. Same types of crime
New Crimes Moral crimes, vagrancy, witchcraft, organised crime (smuggling, highway robbery).
Moral Crimes Swearing, affairs, not going to church. Not new crimes, just punished more due to puritans
Smuggling Smuggling to avoid tax, 1600s tobacco, 1720s 30% tax increase on silk, brandy and tea so also smuggled. Gangs 40-50 people. Often with local support
Highway Robbery Elizabethan time. Stagecoaches are a easy target as unlit and through remote places. New roads so more travelers. Often very violent (cutting off a woman's tongue to stop her talking)
Vagrancy E.g. upright man (mugger), counterfeit crank, soap trick. Population increase 2.4 million (1520), 4.1 million (1600), not enough jobs and so increase in vagrancy. Greatly feared due to printing press. Harman's book
Witchcraft Huge rise when James I in reign, wrote 'Demonology'. Mostly old women. Increased in times of plague and famine as they were a scapegoat
Reason for changes in crime rates? Population rise. Prices increased and wages decreased, as a result crime raised to peak in 1620 - then declines
Courts Assizes, Quarter Sessions, Petty Sessions, Church Courts
Assizes Courts Most serious crime, capital crimes, murder, rape, arson. 6 circuits (areas) 2 judges each, 2 per year
Quarter Sessions Run by JPs. JPs fix wages, arrest vagrants, fix roads. Petty crimes, less than 1 shilling
Petty Sessions Exist to deal with crimes quarter sessions missed. Minor crimes (assaults, drunkenness) , gradually take over from manor courts
Church Courts Rise in importance n puritan reign. same as medieval
Enforcers Still unpaid, rely on hue and cry, mostly knew criminals, repeat offenders a problem (e.g. John Ayley, repeat adulterer BUT MADE CONSTABLE !!!
Bloody Code CHANGE: Increased number of crimes punishable by death. 50 crimes in 1688, 200 by 1820. Black Act (1723), poaching is capital. Executions actually went down cause judges felt sorry, instead, sent to America or acquitted as lack of evidence
Public Humiliation Penance, Stocks/Pillory, Cucking/Ducking stool, Whipping/Branding, Scolds Bridle. Continuation from medieval, but rise in use
Treason Axed if a noble, or HDQ if a commoner
Most Common Capital Punishment Hanging
Prisons Still rare. Bridewells become used, place to hold vagrants, made them do labour. 1609 Vagabond Act forced every county to build bridewell
Created by: MattTheBoiInit