The ‘whores’ and ‘highwaymen’ of Gregory Durston’s title are just some of the dubious characters met with in this absorbing work, including thief-takers, trading justices, an upstart legal profession whose lower orders developed various ways to line their own pockets and magistrates and clerks who often preferred dealing with those cases which attracted fees. The book shows how little was planned by government or the authorities, and how much sprang up due to the efforts of individuals—so that the origins of social control, particularly at a local level, had much to do with personal ideas of morality, class boundaries and perceived threats, serious and otherwise. Based on news reports, Old Bailey and local archives, and other solid records the book weaves a compelling picture of a critical time in English history, through the voices of contemporary observers as well as the best of writings by experts ever since. At its broadest point, the book spans the period from the Glorious Revolution to the early 1820s. It falls into three parts:
Crime and the Metropolis—including Metropolitan crime, attitudes to crime and policing, explanations for crime, and criminal law and procedure.
Policing—including policing the metropolis, constables, the watch, beadles, the role of the military, and the detection of crime.
Justice—including the magistracy and its work, ways of prosecution, trial in the lower and higher courts, and the penal regimes of the day.
A colourful account, which captures the essence of the period. Part of Durston’s Crime History Series.
‘A very-well-researched and readable book… a bit of a romp’: The Law Society Gazette
‘Excellent overview which suits the requirements of my undergraduate history of crime module’: Sally Pilkington, University of Central Lancashire.
‘Gregory Durston is to be congratulated on producing a monumental work on crime and justice in eighteenth century London … treasures are contained in its 668 pages’: John Hostettler, Legal Historian and author. Read the full review
Gregory J Durston MA, DipL, LLM, PhD of the Middle Temple and Lincoln’s Inn, Barrister-at-Law was born and lives in London. He studied history for his first degree before turning to the law, and qualifying for the bar. He has taught in Law Schools in England and Japan and is Reader in Law at Kingston University in Surrey. He is also the author of Fields, Fens and Felonies: Crime and Justice in Eighteenth-Century East Anglia – another part in the Crime History Series.