Crime and punishment

Most of the crimes for which local records survive are for what we would now consider petty offences.  Punishments were severe in many cases, though there is also evidence that juries were encouraged to 'help' the court when otherwise faced with the necessity of passing a death sentence for more trivial cases.  Wrongdoers faced the risk of the stocks, pillory, ducking stool, the House of Correction in Hertford, treadmill, or imprisonment in St Albans - or transportation, from which there was rarely a chance of returning.  Enforcement of the law was the responsibility of the constable - a local citizen with his own living to earn, and a wide range of other duties, including dealing with vagrants, providing welfare assistance to travellers with passes - enabling to return to their own parish, and searching for army deserters.

Page link: A Harpenden Tale from the Old Bailey
A Harpenden Tale from the Old Bailey
Robbed on his way home from Smithfield Market
Page link: Defamation, 17th Century style
Defamation, 17th Century style
Extract from Quarter Sessions Records
Page link: Dreadful Fire
Dreadful Fire
Fire and looting at Turner's Hall, Kinsbourne Green in 1826
Page link: Drunkenness
Drunkenness
according the Drunkenness Act of 1606
Page link: Gleanings from Harpenden Races
Gleanings from Harpenden Races
Reports from the contemporary press of incidents that came before the courts.
Page link: Harpenden in the 1860s, recalled in 1935
Harpenden in the 1860s, recalled in 1935
The Parish Church; the 'rope walk'; and village pranksters
Page link: Harpenden's last 'hue and cry'
Harpenden's last 'hue and cry'
An anecdote from John Lydekker
Page link: Hertfordshire Transportations
Hertfordshire Transportations
Extreme sentences for Codicote offenders: report of a talk to Local History Society in 2003
Page link: Justice in the 16th Century
Justice in the 16th Century
John Hunt araigned for 'living incontinently' with his servant Joan Willeys
Page link: Murder in Harpenden
Murder in Harpenden
The suspect escaped in 1624
Page link: Punishments and Prisons
Punishments and Prisons
From the Stocks to the House of Correction
Page link: St Vincent De Paul Hostel
St Vincent De Paul Hostel
Young Offenders Hostel in Harpenden in the 1920s
Page link: The Crimes of Poverty
The Crimes of Poverty
Punished by hard labour or transportation