Violence and violent crime in the North East, c. 1650-1720
This thesis focuses on the violent actions, illegal and semi-legal, of the men and women of north eastern England in the period c. 1650 to 1720. The north east in this period was poised between a violent reiving past and the more cultured, "civilised" society of the later eighteenth century. This makes it a fascinating period for a study of violence, in its own right and as an index of wider social and individual tensions. Both qualitative and quantitative methodology have been employed to facilitate a greater understanding not only of the bare facts of violent acts, but also their contexts and the meanings they held to those involved. The main sources for this study are legal depositions, from the courts of Durham, Newcastle, Berwick, Northumberland, and the northern circuit assizes; these have been supplemented with other material where possible. Major themes which are drawn from the material include the ways in which ideas of honour functioned to both provoke and constrain assault, the relationship between assault and legitimate forms of violence, and the nature of gender difference in the context of violent activity. By exposition of the wide range of motives which led to violence, this thesis also argues against the stereotypical perception of early modern man as prone to meaningless aggression.