1st Edition

Land of White Gloves? A history of crime and punishment in Wales

By Richard Ireland Copyright 2015
    148 Pages
    by Routledge

    148 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Land of White Gloves? is an important academic investigation into the history of crime and punishment in Wales. Beginning in the medieval period when the limitations of state authority fostered a law centred on kinship and compensation, the study explores the effects of the introduction of English legal models, culminating in the Acts of Union under Henry VIII. It reveals enduring traditions of extra-legal dispute settlement rooted in the conditions of Welsh Society. The study examines the impact of a growing bureaucratic state uniformity in the nineteenth century and concludes by examining the question of whether distinctive features are to be found in patterns of crime and the responses to it into the twentieth century.

    Dealing with matters as diverse as drunkenness and prostitution, industrial unrest and linguistic protests and with punishments ranging from social ostracism to execution, the book draws on a wide range of sources, primary and secondary, and insights from anthropology, social and legal history. It presents a narrative which explores the nature and development of the state, the theoretical and practical limitations of the criminal law and the relationship between law and the society in which it operates.

    The book will appeal to those who wish to examine the relationships between state control and social practice and explores the material in an accessible way, which will be both useful and fascinating to those interested in the history of Wales and of the history of crime and punishment more generally.

    Introduction  1. The Middle Ages: Victims, Lords and Kings  2. Assimilation and Difference  3. The Eighteenth Century: Courts, Curses and Confinement  4. The Nineteenth Century: The Uniform – and the White Gloves  5. The Twentieth Century: Radicalism, Drugs and Sheep  Concluding Remarks.


    Richard Ireland has been researching the history of crime and punishment for many years and has published widely in the area. Richard is a founding committee member of the Welsh Legal History Society and a member of the Board of the Centre for Welsh Legal Affairs. He has also contributed to a number of radio and television broadcasts.

    ‘This fascinating history of criminal justice in Wales tells the story of the complex and constantly evolving relationship between authority and community over the past thousand years.

    Concise and accessible, and with a specific focus on the Welsh experience, it also expertly captures the multifaceted nature of the subject and sheds light on social responses to crime which have universal significance. It is an excellent introduction to the subject which will inspire others to explore the rich seams of Welsh criminal justice history.’ - R. Gwynedd Parry, Professor of Law and Legal History, Swansea University, UK

    ‘Richard Ireland is a brilliant advocate for the study of Welsh history, but he also opens up ideas that are not tied to one country or period. This book is a wonderful example of the richness that a fine historian can bring to the subject and, while it is to be hoped that he succeeds in his wish to inspire readers to "do" history, few possess his skill.’ - Philip Rawlings, The Roy Goode Professor of Commercial Law, Queen Mary University of London, UK

    ‘A scholarly and readable account of the particular experiences and perspectives of the people of Wales in dealing with criminal behaviour over a thousand years of their history. A major contribution to Welsh legal and social history.' - Thomas Glyn Watkin, former Professor of Law, University of Wales, Bangor and Cardiff, UK

    'The monograph’s main strength, apart from providing an excellent survey of crime and justice in the province, is in exploring the ways in which the administration of English justice in Wales was both coloured by and intersected with these older, communal ideas. It deserves to be read by historians of crime both within Wales and more widely...' - John Walliss, Liverpool Hope University, Law, Crime and History

    'The author, who has lectured at Aberystwyth University since the late 1970s, is one of our foremost authorities on the legal history of Wales...The detailed endnote references (essential to persue these themes further)and the full bibliography underlie the author's formidable scholarship and massive contribution. In five short chapters he surveys with admirable clarity the evolution of Wales from early medieval times, the age of Hywel Dda, to the present.'J. Graham Jones, The Journal of Glamorgan History