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.
"Though we have long boasted of having fewer robberies committed here than in any place of equal size, yet it is impossible to be entirely exempted from lawless plunderers’, according to a sober assessment from 1786. Indeed, by the later eighteenth century, there were few places so full of temptations and opportunities as Bath,with all its well-to-do residents and visitors,opulent shops, fine houses and well-stocked gardens. In this article,Trevor Fawcett examines the record of the city’s prosecution society in the constant fight against property crime".