The County Bench and Crime in Sussex 1775-1820

Wilson, Stephen Roger (1985). The County Bench and Crime in Sussex 1775-1820. MPhil thesis The Open University.



This thesis is based primarily upon the records of the Sussex Court of Quarter Sessions and more especially upon the gaol calendars contained in the Quarter Session Order Books. Themes are pursued within the framework of the judicial business of the Court. The introduction considers the nature and limitations of the documentary material available to the student of eighteenth century crime* The first chapter presents an analysis of the workings of the Sussex Court of Quarter Sessions and considers both the judicial and administrative functions of the Court. The second chapter is concerned with theft and seeks to cant some li^t on the relationship between larceny and rural depression, particularly in the aftermath of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. In the third chapter the impact of hi^ grain prices, particularly during the 1790s, is considered, and attention is drawn to the ways in which the gentry handled the disaffection generated as a result of dearth. The game laws provide the basis of chapter four and the impact of game legislation within the County is considered. Attention here focuses upon the summary proceedings of the justices acting out of sessions since most game law offenders were brought up before the individual magistrate. The various offences ^lich fell under the general heading of misdemeanour are examined in the fifth chapter. Since assault and vagrancy were at the forefront of the list of misdemeanours frequently presented to the justices in Quarter Sessions these two areas form the basis of this chapter. Finally, in chapter six, the measures used by the justices to punish offenders are considered. The various developments that took place within the County's gaols and houses of correction are at the forefront of this section of the thesis.

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