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.