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Crime in Medieval England

Data from the Rolls of the Justices of Gaol Delivery

Barbara Hanawalt (October, 2010 version)

Barbara Hanawalt is the author of a number of studies of crime, criminal justice, and punishment in medieval England. Several of her works analyze the data she gathered on violent crime and property crime from the rolls of the justices of gaol delivery of eight English counties: Essex, Herefordshire, Huntingdonshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Surrey, and Yorkshire. The originals are located in the National Archives (Public Record Office in Kew in the United Kingdom). The classification when Professor Hanawalt read these records in 1966-1968 and in 1974 was Justice Itinerate 3 (JI3). The classification is now Just. 3. Please consult the website for the National Archives for more information. An excellent Index to the rolls is in the PRO but is not published. It was done by C. A. F. Meekings.

In addition, Professor Hanawalt gathered data from some of the Oyer and Terminer sessions (JI 1) or Trailbaston sessions. These sessions were an experiment to indict and try criminals in counties where justice was being flouted. Some of the gaol delivery cases also appear in King's Bench (KB) sessions. When the justices of King's Bench were in a county, they superseded the gaol delivery sessions. The coroners' rolls are JI 2 (formerly Just. 2). The coroners were charged with investigating sudden deaths (homicide, accidents, suicides). A good guide to these is R. F. Hunnisett, The Medieval Coroner.

The data are from the following studies

  • Hanawalt, Barbara A. (1970) "A Study of Crime in Norfolk, Northamptonshire, and Yorkshire, 1300-1348." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan.
  • Hanawalt, Barbara A. (1979) Crime and Conflict in English Communities, 1300-1348. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

The data are described in the codebook and in the studies from which the data are drawn. The data are currently available in JPEG files made from scans of Professor Hanawalt's original notes.


Spreadsheets of English Homicide Data

English Population Estimates and Some Homicide Rate Estimates, compiled by Randolph Roth

NOTE: The following data exist as numerous jpeg images for each of the locations. Each image file is of a separate sheet containing roughly 30 cases, hand-entered in pen or pencil in a spreadsheet format. They are collected in various numbers of zip files. The individual sheets are numbered, but note that the numbering is not continuous across locations and that some sheets are numbered "a," "b," "c," etc. Thus there may be consecutive sheets numbered, for example, "56" and "56a."


Original notes on Gaol Delivery Rolls (Zipped collections of JPEG files)

Original notes on Coroners' Rolls (Zipped collections of JPEG files)

[doc] - Some links on this page are to Microsoft .doc files requiring the use of Microsoft Word. If you need these files in a more accessible format, please contact cjrc@osu.edu.

[jpg] - Some links on this page are to .jpg files requiring the use of an image viewer program. If you need these files in a more accessible format, please contact cjrc@osu.edu.