The Wild West? Crime and the commons in Yate c.1800-1830

"In the summer of 1826, the local and national press was thrilled by the story of the Wickwar Gang... Only days before, ‘in consequence of some suspicious circumstances’, an ‘old man by the name of Mills, his wife, and their 4 sons’ were taken into custody and ‘immediately after their apprehension... disclosed the history of the lawless community with which they had been connected'". Rose Wallis provides in an insight into crime and disorder in Gloucestershire in the early 19th Century.

Early Records of the Church Court in Bristol

The Consistory Court was established in Bristol following the creation of the bishopric and diocese in 1542. Previously the Bristol parishes north of the river Avon had been part of the diocese of Worcester, while the parishes south of the river were in the diocese of Bath and Wells. In this article, Joseph Bettey explores a neglected source for local history and genealogy in Bristol and the surrounding area: the records of the Church or Consistory Court. Proceedings of the court, including statements by witnesses, were recorded in detail, and 45 Cause Books survive starting in 1545, as well as numerous bundles of Cause Papers from 1600.Ecclesiastical jurisdiction dealt with many aspects of daily life, including disputes over wills, marriage and inheritance, offences such as heresy, immorality, drunkenness and slander, failure to attend church and misdemeanours of the clergy.

Magistracy and the Crisis of Paternalism in the 1790s: The case of George Donisthorpe of Somerton

George Donisthorpe was the resident magistrate of the town of Somerton in Somerset. In 1796 he was tried for 'wilful neglect of his duty as a magistrate' in refusing to assist in quelling a riot and 'with having rather encouraged it.' The public prosecution of a Justice of the Peace was a rare occurrence. Traditionally, the local magistrate was represented as a paternal figure 'guiding the conduct' and ensuring the wellbeing of the deferential poor. Their wealth and status placed them beyond reproach. In this article, Rose Wallis illustrates the increasingly precarious position of magistrates in the period, as their discretionary powers and paternal authority were eroded by the centralisation of government control.