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Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1834:
I was in London on Friday and visited the Old Bailey, London's famous criminal court that has been operating since the 17th century. Unfortunately I arrived too late to see any trials. However, when googling around for directions I learned that a group of universities have posted the complete Proceedings of the Old Bailey from 1674 to 1834.

  The database has the original reports of more than 100,000 trials at the Old Bailey, and it's all in searchable form. The site is incredibly easy to use, and the trial reports are short and easy to read. I realize that only serious criminal law or legal history geeks will get a kick out of this, but if you fit that category the site is definitely worth checking out.
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Accepting my inner geek, I think that's a seriously cool site!
7.23.2007 5:02pm
tdsj:
yeah, it's truly remarkable. And if it piques your interest, you should go buy Langbein's "Origins of the Adversary Criminal Trial," which is based on large part on the Old Bailey reports. I think it's the greatest piece of criminal law scholarship in years.
7.23.2007 5:36pm
Constitutional Crisis (mail):
Terrific site. Makes me want to go read some Dickens.
7.23.2007 5:39pm
Federal Dog:
Anyone up for unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assembling together to the Disturbance of the King's Peace?

Oops, sorry. I thought this was the dangerous dogs thread.
7.23.2007 5:49pm
Mark Liberman (mail) (www):
For an example of scholarship powered by the these records (though found via EEBO), see here.
7.23.2007 6:10pm
TomD:
The first one I picked, at random; I guess the Andrea Yates jurors had some historical precedent on their side (don't read if squeamish):

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The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Ref: t16750115-1
Trial Summary:
Crime(s): killing : infanticide,
Verdict: Not Guilty: non compos mentis,
Other trials on 15 Jan 1675
Name search for: Woman,
Defendant's Home: St. Martins in the fields


Original Text:
The first of these was a Woman of the Parish of St. Martins in the fields, a Married Woman, and one whose Husband is accounted a Person of good repute, and credit, and with him she lived, to the seeming of those that know them, contentedly and well, it pleased God (whose Judgments are unaccountable to his Creatures) so for to suffer the Devil to prevail upon this poor wretch, as to cause her to perpetrate that horrid action whereof she was not indicted.

* * *

The day whereon this tragedy was acted, this unnatural Mother Orders her Nurse to make her a Sea-Coal fire in her Chamber, and to blow it up well pretending she was cold; this being done, she sends the aforesaid Nurse upon some arrand out of doores; and
See original then takes her little Infant in her hands, and having first opened a place in the top of the fire, by removing some of the Cools, she cruelly thrust the poor Innocent into it, and then threw the Coals upon it, where it was burned to Death; A little while after the Nurse returning and perceiving some of the Child cloths upon the fire, snatching to take them off, caught hold of some part of the Child that was not then consumed, whereupon Surprized with the horror of the sight, she shreikt out and askt who had done it, which the Cruel Mother presently confessed to be her self, and was thereupon taken into the hands of Justice, and at this Sessions tryed for her Life, as I have before told you, she was at last Cleared by the Jury who juded her not to be of sound mind before, and at the time of doing the fact, and therefore brought her in not Guilty .
7.23.2007 6:18pm
vasi:
The Head Heeb blog has been posting interesting bits and pieces from the Old Bailey archies for several years now: link
7.23.2007 6:56pm
Berliner:
If I am reading this case right, a woman was convicted of bestiality partially because the dog was brought into court and wagged its tail at its owner:

ONe of the first and most talkt of Tryals at this Sessions, was for such an abominable Crime, attended with such odious Circumstances, as 'tis thought scarce any Story can parallel it, especially in this our more modest and chaster Climate, hitherto a stranger to such unnatural wickedness; and we hope the Justice executed on this wretched Criminal will deter all others from any the like detestible inclinations for the future.

A married woman lately living without Cripplegate, that appeared to be between 30 and 40 years of age, was arrigned, For that she having not the fear of God before her eyes, nor regarding the order of Nature, on the 23. of June last, to the disgrace of all womankind, did commit Buggery with a certain Mungril Dog, and wickedly, divellishly, and against nature had venerial and Carnal copulation with him, &c. It was was proved that the Prisoner was a person of a lewd conversation, and lodging in a Room into which there were several holes to look in at from the next house, they had often seen her in the very acts of uncleanness with Villains that followed her; but one day one of the Witnesses (a young woman) happening to cast herview a gif image of the original file
See original eye in, saw her use such actions with a Dog as are not fit here to be recited: At which being amazed, she called up another woman, and after that a man, who all saw her several times practising this beastliness, and fully evidenced the same in Court, where the Dog was likewise brought, add being set on the Bar before the Prisoner, owned her by wagging his tail, and making motions as it were to kiss her, which 'twas sworn she did do when she made that horrid use of him. For her self she had nothing to say, but denying the fact, alleadging it was mallice in the Witnesses, whichher Husband, who appeared in her behalf likewise suggested, but could not make out any quarrel or occasion of any such malice in the least; whereupon after full consideration of all circumstances she was brought in guilty .
7.23.2007 7:04pm
Steve2:
I got a good laugh out of the "view a gif image of the original file" that got included in the bestiality case.

Not such a good laugh out of the court accepting the dog's, err, "testimony." A talking cat that wasn't.
7.23.2007 7:30pm
OrinKerr:
tdsj:

I agree -- I love Langbein's book. (It introduced me to the Old Bailey and is the reason I wanted to visit it when I was in London,)
7.23.2007 7:31pm
H Rumpole:
Did you have a glass (or two) of "Chateau Fleet Street" or "Chateau Thames Embankment" at Pommeroy's wine bar?
7.23.2007 10:37pm
Chico's Bail Bonds (mail):
t17040426-42

The above is the reference number to a girl falsely accused of having sex with her dog by a quarrelsome neighbor. Great.
7.24.2007 12:10am
StephenOccasionally (mail):
7.24.2007 1:57am