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Title: Female criminality 1780-1830
Author: Short, R. M.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1989
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This thesis studies aspects of women's criminal behaviour during the period from 1780-1830, using the criminal court records from two juridical areas: the City of London and the county of Berkshire. It considers all types of indictable crime, that tried in the local quarter session court and in the assize (high) court. It first establishes the numerical significance of female crime, which accounted for as little as one tenth of all indictments, with some variation between different courts and urban and rural areas. It also establishes some characteristics of female criminals, their age, marital status and place of birth. Compared to men, women's crime was less concentrated in the years of early adulthood, though the ill-defined nature of marriage among the lower orders at this period makes it difficult to establish any firm conclusions about the influence of marriage on a woman's criminal career. To attempt to explain these patterns, this work studies the social context of women's criminal activity, for this purpose separating property and violent crime. In the former case, a stress upon the practical, organizational aspects of crime suggests correlations between criminal potential and wider social freedoms. In the field of violent crime, women's involvement was more prevalent than might have been expected, challenging the notion that women's experience of violence is predominantly as a victim. Finally, the idea that women's lenient treatment by prosecutors accounts for their absence from the criminal records is addressed. From media accounts of women's crime there is evidence of a general disinclination to invest women with any criminal potential. A study of sentencing patterns reveals that women were less likely to be harshly treated that their male counterparts, though with some variation between crime types. It is argued however tha it is women's lesser criminal capacity, pre-determined by her social position, which creates these patterns, rather than the "chivalry" of male prosecutors.
Supervisor: Innes, Joanna Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History ; History of Britain and Europe ; Women ; criminal behaviour