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.
The purpose of this article "is to chronicle the impact of reform on Bristol public life. An earlier piece dealt with the Tory opponents of the Reform Bill. The present essay covers the Whigs, radicals and others who, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, supported it". Stevenson provides information about who was involved in a vital period of change for the City of Bristol.
Being a Poor Law Guardian was an elected position which was open to certain middle and upper class women from 1869 and to women in general after 1894. The work was unpaid and in that sense similar to much work undertaken in the voluntary sector. Moira Martin examines the entry of women into one sphere of local government, the administration of Poor Relief.