Women, Pleas and Property Crime

Orr, David orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-6128-8296 (2020) Women, Pleas and Property Crime. Continuity and Change .

[thumbnail of Author Submitted Manuscript] PDF (Author Submitted Manuscript) - Submitted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only


Official URL: http://www.cambridge.org/gb/index.php


From a random sample of five-hundred petitions, submitted between 1819 and 1840 by felons convicted at the Old Bailey, only thirty-nine were female petitioners. This approximates the female-male felony ratio of convictions for property crimes in London at this time . The thirty-nine female petitioners are the focus of this article. In particular, the article examines evidence and arguments suggesting that ideas of morality rather than legality most influenced the outcome of these appeals. Elite decision-makers used their ideals of motherhood, marriage status, chastity and occupation to determine both the credibility of the appeal and the moral integrity of the petitioners as women. Ultimately, the article concludes, the assessment of the petitioner as a moral woman determined whether she was a ‘fit subject of mercy’.

Repository Staff Only: item control page