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Victorian Crime and Punishment
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Glossary

  • Magistrate:
    Otherwise known as a J.P.; these local justices were responsible for both administration and maintaining the law at county level until the Local Government Acts of 1888 and 1894 took away most of their administrative functions. For much of the nineteenth century they were dominated by the gentry and Anglican clergy. Property qualifications for Justices of the Peace were removed in 1906 and in 1918 women were admitted.
  • Magistrates' Court:
    A court of summary jurisdiction held before 2 or more J.P.s or magistrates to deal with minor crimes (i.e. non-indictable crimes), certain civil actions and preliminary hearings (the latter referred to higher courts i.e. Assize)
  • Manslaughter:
    The unlawful killing of one human being by another without malice aforethought (i.e not planned in advance).
  • Misdemeanour:
    Minor crime on the 18th and 19th centuries
  • Murder:
    The unlawful, premeditated killing of one human being by another