In February 2020, Rose Wallis, Associate Director of the Regional History Centre, and Iona Keen, independent heritage consultant facilitated a collaborative workshop exploring public engagement with criminal justice histories in heritage contexts.
‘Have They a Sense of Justice?’: Britain’s first female jurors at the Bristol Quarter Sessions
The right to trial by jury has been traditionally acknowledged as a pillar of the English legal system. Under the principle of ‘twelve good men and true’, juries had been trusted for centuries with the responsibility of dispensing justice impartially and according to evidence. Defendants had the right to be tried ‘by their peers’, but juries had always been composed entirely of men. In 1919, reforms in the law allowed women to take their seats as jurors in a criminal trial for the first time. The trial took place here in Bristol in 1920, and not everyone was entirely happy about it.