"What Are You? - A Woman I Suppose": Women in the Eighteenth-Century British Court
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This thesis explores the variety of women's experiences before the London court in the late-eighteenth century. Historians have emphasized the implications of women as defendants but have yet to examine other capacities that women fulfilled before the Old Bailey. I argue that women's appearances as prosecutrixes and witnesses illustrate their overlooked, but vital, contributions to the legal system. A detailed study of the cases brought before the Old Bailey in 1786 highlights women's involvement and the court response, thereby revealing another aspect of discretionary justice within the legal system. Moving beyond the courtroom, my work looks at what trial records uncover about women's interactions at the neighborhood level. Communal networks show the application of law on a personal level and daily basis, which also points to the importance of women's involvement within their neighborhoods.