Laws, Lawyers, and Punishment in the Victorian Period

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Laws, Lawyers, and Punishment in the Victorian Period The Law •At the beginning of the 19th century there were 3 types of law in England: -Common Law: the “law of the land”(Pool 127), which was built up over many centuries *referred to in order to determine such cases as the validity of a contract or whether or not someone was guilty of murder •3 courts that heard cases: -King’s Bench- criminal cases -Eschequer- disputes about money -Common Pleas- disputes between citizens -Equity: seen over by the Chancery Court; designed to give relief from strict decisions made by the common law -Church Law: 4 courts -Court of Arches-Court of the archbishop -Court of Faculties-granted special permission to do things such as hold multiple livings -Consistory Court-handled divorce and wills -Prerogative Court- wills of bishops However, this system of laws changed much throughout the century. The Chancery became merely a joke for there you could not present evidence during trials and Parliament came to view it as necessary for matters of will and divorce to be referred to new civil courts instead of the church. In 1873 the 3 common law courts and the Chancery were combined to make the Supreme Court Lawyers •There were two types of lawyers: -those who argued in court- barristers, sarjeants, and advocates -those who prepared the cases for these lawyers- attorneys, solicitors, proctors •Courtroom lawyers held more prestige especially the barrister, who was often well born •To become a barrister one had to go to a certain number of dinners at the Inns of Court for 3 years. Then if you were approved of by the older lawyers you’d be “called to the bar” and then could become a barrister. There was no exam required. •Solicitors had to serve as an in-between between the barristers and their clients. So they were “in trade” which was less respectful to become solicitor one had to be an apprentice for 5 years to a practicing lawyer Punishment •In 1800 there were over 200 offences punishable by death including sheep stealing and doing damage to the Westminster Bridge -This harshness was probably due to the lack of real paid policemen at the time. So when someone was actually caught and convicted they were made an example.

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