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.
Leisure was a substantial part of the life of a Victorian lady. Leisure pursuits took place mostly in the domestic sphere, although attendance at theatres, concerts and flower shows increasingly brought leisured ladies into the public. Another undertaking of these ladies which brought them into the public arena was voluntary philanthropic work. Jane Howells explores the Salisbury Bazaars, where middle class local women sold the products of their leisured labour as a means of charitable fundraising.
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.