Law and War

Magistrates in the Great War

Jonathan Swan

 
Date Published :
June 2017
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Language:
English
Illustration :
16 page plate section
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Hardback
ISBN : 9781473853379
Pages : 272
Dimensions : 9.5 X 6.5 inches
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In stock
$39.95

Overview
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The office of justice of the peace has existed since the twelfth century, when ‘good and lawful men’ were first appointed to sit in judgment of their peers. Unpaid and untrained, these lay magistrates were the backbone of the English judicial system, dealing with the vast majority of criminal cases in the police courts and the petty sessions.

By the start of the twentieth century, social attitudes were changing and the magistrates, drawn from the wealthier classes, were seen as out of touch with the communities they served. The new Liberal Government of 1906 instituted reforms, which allowed the appointment of the working classes.

Then came the Great War. Within days of the outbreak of hostilities, the government introduced the Defence of the Realm Act. With several amendments over the years, this all-encompassing legislation resulted in the creation of hundreds of subsidiary regulations, many of which affected the lives of ordinary people in a way they had never expected.

Many, including magistrates themselves, fell foul of the myriad orders, covering billeting, licensing, lighting and rationing, which were enforced by the new special constables. At the same time, the conscription of the ‘criminal classes’ saw a huge fall in the normal workload of the courts, and the closure of many prisons.

The magistrates responded as best they could. Some magistrates went to war; some lost their lives. Others served in the many voluntary organizations and committees that appeared across the country, such as the Military Service Tribunals or the Volunteer Corps.

The end of the war saw a further change to the old order when the first women magistrates were appointed, marking the birth of modern magistracy.

About The Author
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Jonathan Scott is a freelance writer specializing in family history. He is a former deputy editor of Family History Monthly and has penned the ‘Best Websites’ column for Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine since 2007. He also writes the magazine’s monthly ‘Around Britain’ feature and compiles the end-of-year look-ahead at developments online. In addition to his work in family history, he has compiled Collecting Children’s Books, Rare Book Price Guide and The Family History Web Directory.

REVIEWS
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"There was a time when magistrates were drawn solely from the upper classes, and I suspect that may still be the case, though I don't know. Jonathan Swan looks at a time when laws were changed to deal with aspects of war, and magistrates were called upon to exercise new and more necessary powers."

- Books Monthly

"I’ve read a good number of books about the First World War and I would thoroughly recommend Law and War to anyone with an interest in that period‚ whether military or social."

- Benchmark Magazine, Edition 96

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