04 February 2021

BOOK: Sascha AUERBACH, Armed with Sword and Scales - Law, Culture, and Local Courtrooms in London, 1860–1913 (Cambridge: CUP, 2021). ISBN 9781108491556, 75.00 GBP


(Source: CUP)

CUP is publishing a social history of the London courtroom during the period 1860-1913.


In the mid-eighteenth century, author and magistrate Henry Fielding adjudicated cases of theft, assault, and public disorder from his London home on Bow Street. By the middle of the nineteenth century, Fielding's modest 'police office' had expanded to become the most prolific court system in Britain and the cornerstone of criminal and civil justice in the metropolis. Sascha Auerbach examines the fascinating history of this institution through the lens of 'courtroom culture' – the combination of formal statute and informal custom that guided everyday practice in the London Police Courts. He offers a new model for understanding the relationship between law, culture, and society in modern Britain and illuminates how the local courtroom became a crucial part of everyday life and thoroughly entangled with popular representations of justice and morality.


Sascha Auerbach, University of Nottingham

Sascha Auerbach is a Lecturer in Modern British and Colonial History at the University of Nottingham. A former Fulbright Scholar, he is the author of Race, Law and 'The Chinese Puzzle' in Imperial Britain (2009).


Introduction: Courtroom Culture

1. 'Many-Coloured Scenes of Life': The Police Courts in Metropolitan Culture and Society, 1758–1860

2. 'A Ruffian Rightly Punished': Morality and Local Courtrooms in Practice and Portrayal, 1860–1880

3. 'An Evil Quarter of an Hour About the Precincts': Urban Reform and Municipal Authority in the Courtroom, 1870–1902

4. 'Two Shillings' Worth of Revenge in the Form of a Summons': The Integration of Courtrooms and Communities in London, 1882–1902

5. A Poor Woman's Court of Justice, 1882–1910

6. 'The Very Centre of Observation and Information': Constables, Magistrates, and Changing Patterns of Prosecution and Punishment, 1880–1913

Conclusion: The Historical and Cultural Legacies of the London Magistrates Courts.


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