(England and Wales)

A - B - C - D - E-F - G - H - I - J - K-L - M - N-O - P - Q-R - S - T - U-W


ADULTERY : could be prosecuted in church courts; became, for a brief period during the *Interregnum, a *felony

APPEAL OF FELONY : in cases of *homicide, the next of kin of the victim could appeal against an acquittal (overriding the usual rule of *double jeopardy) or *pardon

ARRAIGNMENT : the process of bringing someone to answer formal charges in court

ARTICLES OF MISDEMEANOUR/BEHAVIOUR : a document, sometimes resembling a *petition and less formal than an *indictment or *presentment, in which an individual or group of individuals brought to a court a list of complaints against a disorderly, violent or dishonest neighbour or local official

ASSAULT : a broad category of misdemeanours including physical attacks (with or without weapons) short of killing them, but also frightening a person with intimidating gestures and threats. There was a category of assault with intent to *rape, which (unlike rape itself) was also a misdemeanour

ASSIZES : the most important courts held in most English counties, held twice a year and empowered to try *felonies and sentence convicts to death. Counties were grouped into circuits, and the Assizes were presided over by professional judges sent out from London to 'ride the circuits'. But see also *Great Sessions, *Old Bailey

Return to Index

BAIL : freeing someone who had been arrested or imprisoned after they were bound over by recognizance to guarantee their appearance in court (and, sometimes, their good behaviour until then). See also *surety, *recognizance

BAILIFF : a legal officer employed to execute writs, make arrests, distrain goods, etc

BARRATRY : a *breach of the peace, which could be similar in form to *scolding: quarrelling and stirring up quarrels by spreading false rumours, but additionally could cover instigating *vexatious lawsuits. Also, the accused were more likely to be men than those accused of scolding

BAWDY COURTS : a commonly used colloquial expression for *ecclesiastical courts

BEADLE : a salaried official in London *wards with a number of duties including supervision of the *night watch

BENCH : the judge(s) presiding over a session of a court; magistrates at Quarter Sessions were also known as the 'county bench'

BENEFIT OF BELLY : convicted women could appeal for a *reprieve from execution on the grounds of pregnancy (they would be examined by a *jury of matrons). In theory, this was only a temporary reprieve until after the birth, but it seems likely that some women managed to escape execution permanently by this means. Should not be seen as comparable to *benefit of clergy

BENEFIT OF CLERGY : an extremely important escape route from execution, with medieval origins. Those convicted of *common law *felonies, on a first conviction, who passed a rudimentary reading test (usually reading from a verse in the Bible, commonly known as the *neck verse), would be branded on the thumb and then released. NB: until the end of the seventeenth century this applied primarily to men. Women were not eligible to claim benefit of clergy at all until 1623, and then only in a limited way (they could not claim clergy for *manslaughter, for example, unlike men) until 1691. There were other changes from the late seventeenth century. The reading test was abolished in 1706, so that the application of benefit of clergy was made automatic for first-timers convicted of common law felonies, but from around the same time increasingly they would be sentenced to *transportation rather than branding and discharge.

BIGAMY : marrying a second wife/husband while the first was still living (divorces permitting remarriage could only be granted by private Acts of Parliament); a *felony

BINDING OVER : see *bail, *recognizance

BLACK ACT (or WALTHAM BLACK ACT) : a statute of 1723 that created over 50 *capital crimes, in response to fears of the 'Waltham Blacks', a gang of deer poachers in Hampshire who disguised themselves by 'blacking' their faces. Possibly the most notorious statute of the notorious *Bloody Code; repealed in the nineteenth century

BLOODY CODE : a term coined to describe the large numbers of *capital statutes introduced during the first half of the eighteenth century (and repealed in the first half of the nineteenth century)

BOROUGH : a town with a number of special privileges giving it greater political autonomy than other towns; these varied depending on the terms of the borough's 'charter' but could include having its own *Justices of the Peace, *coroner and holding *Quarter Sessions, with jurisdiction over non-capital offences committed within the borough

BOW STREET RUNNERS : established in mid-eighteenth-century London, a small force of paid officers under the direction of the *Justices of the Peace of Bow Street, with a more pro-active role in policing theft than traditional *constables

BREACH OF THE PEACE : used to describe a wide range of offences, usually *misdemeanours, that disturbed the general good order of the realm, eg, *assault, *riot

BRIDEWELL : see *house of correction

BURGLARY : breaking and entering a dwelling at night (with intent to commit a felony)

BURNING AT THE STAKE : the punishment meted out to women convicted of *treason or *petty treason. It is believed that the executioner often strangled them before the fire was lit. (Abolished in 1790)

Return to Index

CANT : forms of secret slang used by some criminals, and the focus of much 'respectable' fascination

CAPITAL CRIME : a crime punishable by death

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT : the death penalty

CAPITAL STATUTE : a piece of legislation enacted in parliament that imposed the death penalty upon a named offence, in two main ways: 1) imposing harsher punishments on existing *common law felonies (by excluding them from eligibility for *benefit of clergy) or 2) newly defining specific offences as *capital crimes

CERTIORARI, WRIT OF : a legal process used to remove a case from one court to another (usually a lower jurisdiction to a higher)

CHURCH COURTS : see *ecclesiastical courts

CLERKS : a range of officials in law courts, including *prothonotaries and clerks of assize (at *Assizes) and clerks of the peace (at *Quarter Sessions), with responsibilities for recording court business, drawing up documents

CLIPPING : Removing gold and silver from the edge of coins. The 'clippings' were then melted down and sold for their intrinsic value (classed as *treason)

COINING : manufacturing forged coins (classed as *treason)

COMMISSION OF THE PEACE : list of those empowered to act as *Justices of the Peace in a county

COMMON LAW : the traditional body of law in England, dating from the middle ages and supplemented by legal decisions over the centuries. Not written down in any one place. Often contrasted with statute laws passed by Parliament.

COMPOUNDING : accepting compensation for a *felony in return for agreeing not to prosecute the offender

CONSISTORY COURTS : see *ecclesiastical courts

CONSTABLE : an (unpaid) officer appointed from the ranks of local householders on a rotating basis; the constable served for a year at a time, to make arrests, conduct searches, among other duties. Additional temporary 'acting' constables might also be sworn in for specific occasions if there were fears of public disorder. See also *high/head constable, *petty/parish constable

CORONER : a part-time legal official (of gentry status) who was empowered to hold post-mortem inquests (or inquisitions) to investigate the cause of sudden or suspicious deaths

COURT LEET : a manorial court, to regulate behaviour and discipline infractions according to the laws of the manor

CUCKING STOOL : sometimes used for the punishment of scolds, by ducking or 'cucking' them in a pond or river

CUTPURSE : someone who stole from the person in a surreptitious manner, by literally cutting the ties of purses which were worn hanging from belts before pockets were commonplace

Return to Index

DARK FIGURE (modern term) : used by criminologists and historians to refer to the unknown quantity of unrecorded offences

DEFAMATION : see *slander

DEODAND : an instrument (animal or object) which caused the death of a person, and as such was forfeit to the crown

DEPOSITION : see *examination

DISSEISIN : unlawfully expelling a person from their own property (a *misdemeanour)

DOUBLE JEOPARDY : the principle that a suspect could not be retried for a crime once a jury had given its verdict (but see also *appeal of felony)

Return to Index

ECCLESIASTICAL COURTS : courts with jurisdiction over spiritual and moral affairs, presided over by church officers. They were at their most active in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly in respect of church discipline, but continued to be used for litigation, particularly *defamation suits, well beyond that

EXAMINATION : formal interrogation of a witness or suspect by a JP or similar legal official (or a coroner in the case of homicides), shortly after the offence in question had taken place; the documents would be sent to the court to use at the trial. They were not regarded as formal legal documents and many courts destroyed them once the case was over

Return to Index

FELONIOUS KILLING : a criminal homicide without malice aforethought, another term for *manslaughter

FELONY : a serious crime, which at some time in history was punishable by death. (*Petty larceny, however, was a non-capital felony)

FOOTPAD : a highway robber who operated on foot (the highwayman, often seen as being of higher social status, was always mounted)

FORGERY : fraudulently making or altering a written document, including wills, paper money, stamps and bonds; this was seen as an extremely serious offence and classed as a *felony

FRAUD : any kind of criminal deceit or misrepresentation

Return to Index

GAOL DELIVERY : clearing a gaol of prisoners by bringing them to trial; also used to describe a court which met to try those prisoners.

GLEANING : a customary (but increasingly controversial) practice by which the poor were permitted to collect corn left behind on the ground after harvesting

GRAND JURY : a jury convened at the beginning of a court session to examine bills of indictment and decide whether there was sufficient evidence for them to be taken to trial. The grand jury was also a *jury of presentment

GRAND LARCENY : felonious theft of goods worth more than 1 shilling (12 pence). Many of the capital statutes that formed the Bloody Code during the eighteenth century involved redefining particular forms of simple grand larceny so as to exclude them from benefit of clergy, eg sheep stealing and cattle stealing (in 1741). See also *larceny, *petty larceny

GREAT SESSIONS : in certain regions of England (eg Cheshire) and most of Wales, this was the name given to the courts that were elsewhere known as *Assizes (informally, contemporaries frequently referred to them as Assizes).

Return to Index

HABEAS CORPUS : (Latin: 'you have the body') a rule used to prevent people being imprisoned illegally.

HEADBOROUGH : *parish officer with the same functions as a *petty constable

HEARSAY : the principle that hearsay (secondhand reporting of events as opposed to what one has personally witnessed) was not admissable in court was beginning to emerge during the early modern period, although it was not strictly observed until well into the eighteenth century

HIGH CONSTABLE or HEAD CONSTABLE : a *constable appointed to supervise the *petty or parish constables in each hundred in a county, as well as to carry out similar law enforcement duties if required. They were also expected to bring *presentments of minor offences (including neglect of communal duties such as maintenance of highways), disorders and recusants to court sessions.

HIGHWAY ROBBERY : a *robbery that took place on or near the King's Highway

HOMICIDE : the unlawful killing of a person (by another person/persons)

HOUSE-BREAKING : as *burglary, but committed during daylight hours

HOUSE OF CORRECTION : a particular type of prison, becoming increasingly common from the early seventeenth century, usually for offenders accused of minor offences - including petty pilfering, drunkenness and disturbing the peace of the neighbourhood, prostitution - that could be dealt with summarily by JPs. They were usually incarcerated for quite short periods and might also be whipped and/or put to hard labour. Also known as *Bridewell, from the name of the first institution of this type in London.

HUE AND CRY : the traditional obligation of householders to pursue and apprehend anyone who had committed a felony

HULKS : ships in the Thames used as prisons

HUNDRED : a subdivision of a county (shire), an important unit of local government

Return to Index

IGNORAMUS BILL : (Latin: 'We do not know) a bill of *indictment rejected by a grand jury for insufficient evidence

IMPRISONMENT : until the Penitentiary Act of 1779, imprisonment was rarely used as a punishment after conviction; gaols (other than debtors' gaols) were primarily used to hold prisoners awaiting trial for no more than a few months; but see also *house of correction

INDICTMENT : formal accusation charging someone of a crime, taking the form of a written document containing brief, formulaic details of the accusation

INFANTICIDE : the *murder of a new-born infant, by or with the consent of the parents

INFORMATION : similar to a *deposition, but in the form of an accusation brought to a *Justice of the Peace by a third-party informant (frequently for a reward) rather than an official or the victim of a crime

INFORMER : someone who makes an accusation of an offence for profit (see also *thief-taker); suspects might also turn informer against partners in crime in return for lenient treatment

INTERREGNUM : the period following the British Civil Wars between the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the restoration of Charles II in 1660

INTERROGATORIES : a list of formal questions to be put to witnesses, used by some courts (such as *Star Chamber) when conducting investigations; *magistrates' and *coroners' pre-trial *examinations seem to have been less formally conducted

Return to Index

JACOBIN : at the end of the eighteenth century, a radical reformer and supporter (often used pejoratively) of the French Revolution (not to be confused with *Jacobites)

JACOBITE : supporter of the claim to the English throne of the exiled Stuart family after 1688 (not to be confused with *Jacobins)

JURY OF MATRONS : a panel of women convened to examine a female convict who had claimed *benefit of belly and to decide whether she was pregnant

JURY OF PRESENTMENT : apart from their role in deciding whether bills of *indictment should go forward to trial, *grand juries were also responsible for making *presentments of offences - misdemeanours, breaches of the peace, neglect of communal obligations, absenteeism from church - of which they had personal knowledge (or which had been presented to them by high constables). Most courts also had other presenting juries, such as borough juries that presented such offences from within their own borough jurisdictions.

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE : Also known as a JP and a *magistrate. Usually substantial gentlemen (but see *trading justices), they heard criminal complaints brought to them by victims and constables, took *examinations and committed suspects to prison to await trial. They also acted as judges at Quarter Sessions

Return to Index

KING'S BENCH (or QUEEN'S BENCH) : a central court with a number of functions in criminal cases, including trying cases of high treason or of particular concern to the government; and as a court of appeal for cases originally begun in provincial courts

LAST DYING SPEECH : speech given by a convict just before execution, usually declaring remorse for his or her crimes and warning others not to follow the same path. These were often published as pamphlets

LARCENY : a *common law felony (and therefore eligible for *benefit of clergy), 'simple' theft without aggravating factors such as forced entry or violence. See also *petty larceny, *grand larceny.

LATIN IN LEGAL DOCUMENTS : many court documents were written in Latin (or partly so), mostly of a basic, formulaic nature (sometimes complicated by the use of abbreviations), until 1733 when legislation was passed requiring that all legal records should be in English

LAW FRENCH (or NORMAN FRENCH) : French continued to be used in many legal documents in English law into the early modern period; it was however increasingly a debased and artificial form of the language. Some words and phrases are still in use today, eg, attorney, defendant

LIBEL : see *slander. A libel was also a formal document containing the charge against a defendant in litigation suits in some courts, including *ecclesiastical courts

LONGITUDINAL STUDY (modern term) : a statistical study of long term historical trends, including levels of recorded crime (as well as wide range of other data, eg food prices)

Return to Index

MAGISTRATE : another term for *Justice of the Peace

MALEFICIUM : the malevolent activities of a witch against her or his neighbours, casting spells, curses, etc

MISDEMEANOUR : a minor crime, not punishable by death; in contrast to *felony

MOB : a word coined in the late seventeenth century (a contraction of the Latin mobile vulgus, 'movable' or 'excited' crowd), to describe disorderly crowds and the lower classes more generally

MURDER : to kill a person unlawfully, with malice aforethought

Return to Index

NECK VERSE : a passage from the Bible (the 51st Psalm) that people were expected to read out in court in order to claim *benefit of clergy. Most 'passed'; it is often suggested that many illiterates simply memorised the passage in advance

NIGHTWALKER : a person who (regularly) stayed out late at night in bad company (especially suspected thieves and receivers)

NIGHT WATCH : local officials with particular responsibility for policing streets at night, becoming a permanent paid force in eighteenth-century London

NORMAN FRENCH : see *Law French

OLD BAILEY : equivalent in London and Middlesex of the provincial *Assize courts, trying felonies, held 8 times a year

OLD BAILEY PROCEEDINGS (or OLD BAILEY SESSIONS PAPERS): a series of printed reports of the trials held at the *Old Bailey, published from the later seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. These were almost unique to the Old Bailey; London was probably the only city with a large enough audience to make them commercially viable.

OUTLAWRY : the process of being placed outside the protection of the law **

Return to Index

PAPIST : pejorative term for a Roman Catholic

PARDON : being forgiven for an offence (NB that pardoning did not, usually, indicate that the convict was considered to be innocent or that any miscarriage of justice had taken place). A free pardon meant the convict would receive no punishment. A conditional pardon meant the convict would receive a lesser punishment, usually transportation

PARISH : the smallest unit of English local government, usually governed by the vestry, and appoints officers such as churchwardens, scavengers and overseers of the poor. (This fairly standard definition, however, is somewhat oriented to lowland southern England where parishes were compact and frequently consisted of a single village; it should be noted that in many parts of England and Wales, parishes could cover much larger areas and include several small settlements or 'townships', and here some elements of administration might be conducted at the township level, including the appointment of *petty constables.)

PARTIAL VERDICTS (modern) : a term used by historians to describe the ways in which juries passed reduced verdicts to save convicts from execution; see *pious perjury

PEINE FORTE ET DURE : see *pressing to death

PERJURY : lying under oath, especially in court

PERQUISITES : benefits additional to wages, such as servants' tips or gifts

PETITION : an appeal to a judge or *Justice of the Peace for some kind of assistance or relief. They could cover many circumstances, including the lifting or reduction of a punishment, the disciplining of an abusive official, claims for poor relief

PETTY CONSTABLE or PARISH CONSTABLE : a *constable responsible for law and order at the level of the *parish

PETTY JURY (or PETIT JURY): a jury of twelve men who heard the evidence in a trial and decided whether the accused was innocent or guilty. See also *grand jury

PETTY LARCENY : theft of goods worth 1 shilling (12 old pence) or less, a non-capital felony for which the usual punishment was *whipping (with *transportation being introduced during the eighteenth century). See also *larceny, *grand larceny

PETTY SESSIONS : a court held by two or more *Justices of the Peace exercising summary jurisdiction over minor offences within their locality

PETTY TREASON : the murder of a husband by a wife, a parent by a child, or a master by a servant. Women convicted of this were sentenced to death by burning; men were sentenced to be drawn (on a hurdle to the place of execution), hanged and quartered after death.

PILGRIMAGE OF GRACE : a rebellion in northern England in 1536, against the religious policies (particularly the dissolution of the monasteries) of the government

PILLORY : a method of punishment for certain offences, including *seditious libels, it consisted of a wooden structure on a platform in a public square or marketplace, with holes for the convict's head and arms. The convict would be left, usually with a notice describing the crime, to stand in the pillory for a specified length of time, for the public to inflict what they thought appropriate. Their responses varied from lethal violence to overt sympathy; more usually they pelted the offender with abuse and rotten food

PIOUS PERJURY : a term used to describe the varied stratagems employed by *juries to avoid sending *felony convicts to the gallows, including undervaluing goods stolen (usually a blatant fiction), or convicting of a reduced charge, such as simple *larceny instead of *burglary, or *manslaughter rather than *murder. See also *partial verdicts.

PLEADING ONE'S BELLY: see *benefit of belly

POPISH PLOT : an alleged plot in 1678 to murder Charles II and replace him with his Catholic brother; in fact, the plot was an anti-Catholic fabrication by Titus Oates (later pilloried for perjury) and others

PRESENTMENT : a form of prosecuting a variety of offences (and the term for the document containing the accusations), somewhat less formulaic than the indictment, usually listing a range of people accused of committing misdemeanours such as habitual drunkenness, *scolding or *nightwalking, breaches of statutory regulations or communal obligations, and *recusancy. Presentments could be made by *juries, *constables and other officials and occasionally by private individuals.

PRESSING TO DEATH : for most of the period, it was not permitted for a defendant to 'stand mute', ie, refuse to plead (either guilty or not guilty) in court. Those who did faced a hideous ordeal, a form of torture and a punitive deterrent to others: they were laid down flat and laden with weights or stones until they spoke to enter a plea, or died of suffocation

PROTHONOTARY : a senior *clerk at Assize courts

Return to Index

QUARTER SESSIONS or GENERAL SESSIONS OF THE PEACE : a court held four times a year by *Justices of the Peace in every county (or boroughs empowered to do so), to hear *misdemeanours and *breaches of the peace, *petty larcenies which were not subject to the death penalty, and also to deal with a range of other administrative business. (In London and Middlesex, it was held eight times a year and called simply the Sessions.)

RAPE : sexual intercourse with a woman against her will (or with a girl under the age of 10 years regardless of consent); a *felony

RECIDIVIST : a repeat (or habitual) offender

RECOGNIZANCE : a legal document which required an individual to perform an obligation, or pay a large penalty if they failed to do so. Usually the obligation was to appear in court to answer or prosecute a case; sometimes it was to be 'of good behaviour' or 'keep the peace'. Recognizances were also commonly used to force fathers (and sometimes mothers) of bastards to support the child so that the burden did not fall on parish poor rates; and to bind proprietors of alehouses or inns to keep good order in their establishment. See also: *bail, *surety

RECORDER : a senior judge in London before whom many trials at the Old Bailey were held

RECUSANT : technically, anyone who frequently absented themselves from Sunday service in church; in practice, generally used to refer specifically to 'papists', Roman Catholics. This might be prosecuted by indictment, but more often by presentment to either secular or ecclesiastical courts; such prosecutions are increasingly rare after the 1688 Revolution which brought limited toleration for religious nonconformists

REMAND : to return a prisoner into custody

REPRIEVE : to postpone a sentence so that a *petition for *pardon could be considered (most of those who were granted temporary reprieves seem to have subsequently been pardoned), or following a successful appeal for *benefit of belly

RIOT : in law, a disorderly *breach of the peace carried out by three or more people; a *misdemeanour, except in exceptional circumstances such as rioting covered by the *Riot Act

RIOT ACT : a statute passed in 1715. This applied to *riots involving twelve or more people and lasting for more than an hour; a *Justice of the Peace was empowered to read a declaration ('reading the Riot Act') commanding the rioters to disperse, and if they refused to do so, they were committing a *felony

ROBBERY : theft from the person (usually involving violence or the threat of it); a felony

ROUGH MUSIC : an informal shaming punishment directed against those who had outraged a local community - eg, adulterers, bastard-bearers, wife- or husband-beaters, blacklegs - known by various regional terms (including skimmington [south western England], ceffyl pren and cwlstrin [Wales], riding the stang [northern England], charivari [France])

RYE HOUSE PLOT : a conspiracy (or set of conspiracies) in 1683 with the intent (allegedly) of either forcing Charles II to exclude his Roman Catholic brother and heir (James, Duke of York) from the succession or assassinating them both

Return to Index

SCOLDING : a *breach of the peace, abusing neighbours verbally, quarrelling and stirring up quarrels amongst others. Strongly associated with women, but men could also be prosecuted as scolds. The offence could be prosecuted in a variety of courts, and punished in a variety of ways, including the *cucking stool, a *recognizance to keep the peace, a fine, a spell in the *pillory. See also *barratry

SEDITIOUS WORDS or SEDITIOUS LIBEL : speaking or publishing treasonable words, a misdemeanour (but one that might be heavily punished, including spells in the pillory). Printed libels were coming to be regarded as the more serious offence by the eighteenth century

SLANDER : impugning a person's character or morality by spoken words or writing (the strict modern distinction between verbal slander and written libel was only beginning to emerge during the early modern period). To be actionable in law the slander had to allege activities that could, if true, lead to prosecution by a secular or *ecclesiastical court. The victims of slander often had a number of options: informal arbitration and compensation, a criminal prosecution, or civil litigation

SOCIAL CRIME (modern term) : used by historians to describe activities that were illegal but tolerated or approved by substantial groups in society (eg smuggling)

SODOMY : anal or oral intercourse between a man and another man, woman, or beast; a *felony

STAR CHAMBER : a central court in London from the late fifteenth century to 1641; it investigated and pronounced judgment on a wide range of complaints mostly brought by private individuals concerning, eg, breaches of order, riots, assaults, abuses of office; also acted as a disciplinary court hearing offences against the government (such as publishing seditious pamphlets), a part of its jurisdiction for which it became notorious for extremely severe punishments

SUMMARY JURISDICTION : the power possessed by *Justices of the Peace to try some types of crime acting alone, or in pairs, outside court, and to sentence those convicted to punishment.

SURETY : people who were *bailed to appear to answer charges in court were usually required to provide two people as sureties, who would also face forfeiting substantial sums of money if the conditions of the *recognizance were not met

Return to Index

THIEF-TAKER : a person who profited from arresting thieves or arranging the return of stolen goods. A number of scandals involving criminal thief-takers caused considerable concern during the eighteenth century

TITHINGMAN : *parish officer with the same functions as a *petty constable

TRADING JUSTICES : in eighteenth-century London, as it became increasingly difficult to persuade substantial gentlemen to act as *Justices of the Peace, a type of JP who was (allegedly) of low status, and corruptly took bribes to make a profit from the office

TRANSPORTATION : sending convicts to overseas colonies, usually for set periods of seven or fourteen years or for life. Introduced during the seventeenth century, came into widespread use following the Transportation Act of 1717. Convicts might be sentenced to transportation automatically for certain offences, or they might be transported as the condition of a pardon. Returning from transportation before the appointed time was a *felony

TRAVERSE : the procedure in misdemeanour cases (not felonies) by which the accused pleaded not guilty and took the case to trial

TREASON (high treason) : from the state's point of view, the most serious of all crimes, an offence against the state or the monarch. Men convicted of treason (unless they were peers of the realm, who were beheaded) were sentenced to be: drawn to the place of execution on a hurdle, hanged, cut down while still alive, and then disembowelled, castrated, beheaded and quartered. See also *petty treason, *burning at the stake

TRIAL JURY : see *petty jury

TRUE BILL : a bill of *indictment that a *grand jury found to be supported by sufficient evidence to justify proceeding to a trial

TURNKEY : common expression for a jailer.

TYBURN TICKET : a certificate exempting a person who had prosecuted a felon (and secured a conviction) from parish offices (including *constable)

Return to Index

UTTERING : knowingly using counterfeit money to purchase goods or services (a *misdemeanour, unlike *coining and *clipping)

VAGRANCY : wandering around with no settled abode or livelihood, dependent on begging; also known as vagabondage

VEXATIOUS PROSECUTION : a prosecution pursued out of malice towards the accused

WALTHAM BLACK ACT : see *Black Act

WAPENTAKE : equivalent in Yorkshire of the *hundred

WARD : an administrative unit in London

WHIPPING : punishment for petty theft and many other offences, including *vagrancy

Return to Index

Sources and credits

This glossary has been compiled using a number of sources in print and online. The glossary at the Old Bailey Proceedings website was particularly useful, as was that published in Cynthia Herrup's The common peace. I am also grateful to Chris Williams and Jonathan Edelstein and other commenters at Early Modern Notes who suggested additions to the first draft of this document.