Did the authorities get any better at enforcing the law in Early Modern England? Watch

_hopeless_12_
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I have to do an essay on this for history.
Can anyone give me any ideas? I would really appreciate it.
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LukeT333
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(Original post by _hopeless_12_)
I have to do an essay on this for history.
Can anyone give me any ideas? I would really appreciate it.
Crime increased during the 1500s because of new crimes:
Heresy
Vagabondage
Witchcraft
Crime also increase because urbanisation caused fewer jobs and so people were forced into theft or vagabondage

Why did crime decrease during the 1600s (although fear increased but that's irrelevant to this essay) - better policing (enforcing) and efficiency of trials:

Parish Constables (New form of Policing) – The main defence against crime. A part time job where Constables, who had no weapons or uniform, spent most of their time dealing with everyday matters like begging without a licence. They did not go on patrol, had power to influence punishments like whipping vagabonds and were expected to take charge of suspects and make sure they were held in prisons until their trial.

Rewards (New Form of Policing) – Offered rewards for the arrest of particular criminals. These tended to be for more serious crimes and could be of a very high amount.

An increase in Justices of the Peace – (Local magistrates appointed to keep the peace, hear minor legal cases and keep the poor laws enforced) JPs became a key part of local law enforcement. They were people of local importance, usually a well off landowner, who took the job for the prestige it offered. They judged manor court cases, fined people, send people to be in stocks or pillory and order them to be whipped.

Courts (Some new forms of Trial) – All courts still relied on a Local jury. Manor courts dealt with local minor crimes like selling underweight bread and drunkenness. JPs dealt with minor crimes on their own but (as mentioned before in Middle Ages) had quarterly sessions with the other JPs in the country. Royal judges visited each country twice a year for the serious cases, they were called County Assizes

Habeas Corpus (New Trial Law) – Act passed in 1679 that meant that anyone who was arrested had to appear in court within a certain time or be released. This prevented someone from being seized and locked up without trial though it did not stop governments from making up evidence at trials as an excuse to lock up their critics.

However, they still relied on old techniques:

Citizens – Expected to deal with crime themselves. If someone was robbed it was his or her responsibility to get an arrest warrant from a magistrate (highest government officer), track down the criminals themselves and deliver them to the constable.

The Hue and Cry – Still used, led by constable and local posse could also be used to help find criminal.

A perfect example of self-policing:
The witch hunt (1645-47) happened in the time of the Civil War. This meant that assize judges (royal judges who visited each county twice a year) were less able to travel and so locals would just take the law into their own hands. The accusers would bring a witness to support their claim and the accused would have to defend for themselves. Around 80 percent of those accused were elderly windowed or unmarried women so they had no husband to speak for them.


You could also argue that enforcing the law was better when more punishments were used which deterred people against crimes e.g. Pillories, and they even had started reformative methods with the first Houses of correction being built in the late 1500s/early 1600s.


I hope that was helpful, this was just a collection of notes from revision that I've altered to fit your essay.
All the best
Last edited by LukeT333; 8 months ago
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_hopeless_12_
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🙏 thank you so much
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