Gender, Class and Property Crime in South East England c.1860-1900.

Krissie Brighty-Glover

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis uses court records and newspaper reports to reveal contemporary understanding of gender, class and property in the second half of the nineteenth century. Using three property crimes - theft by domestic servants, poaching and arson - this thesis demonstrates how social interactions and identities were revealed by criminal actions.

After examining wider historiography and prevailing notions of property, gender and class this thesis begins by investigating cases of “stealing from master” at the Old Bailey. Limiting the study to those cases where the defendant lived with their master in their home this chapter reveals how notions of gender, class and property are played out within the competing prism of the home and the work place.

The third chapter of this thesis examines the hyper-masculine crime of poaching revealing how social identities were imagined and utilised in a rural context. Using a sample of cases from South Hinckford Magistrates court in Essex, The Gamekeeper and newspaper reports this chapter will investigate the poacher and the position of the gamekeeper in poaching conflicts. Thus, exposing a new perspective on Victorian masculinity and respectability.

The thesis then moves away from abstract ideas of property to perhaps the most concrete- bricks and mortar. Arson, similarly to poaching, has been consigned by historians as rural crime of protest. This chapter challenges that notion by using cases of urban arson heard at the Old Bailey to reveal who the urban arsonist was, why they committed the crime and how the judicial system dealt with their deviance.

Finally, the thesis concludes by bringing the three crimes together in a comparative study to demonstrate the pivotal role gender, class and the built environment play in the nature, perception and reception of nineteenth-century property crime.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Hamlett, Jane, Supervisor
  • Moss, Stella, Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Nov 2018
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018


  • Crime
  • Gender
  • Victorian
  • Poaching
  • Stealing from master
  • Arson
  • Class
  • Identity
  • Cultural History
  • Social History
  • Masculinity
  • Femininity
  • Family
  • Nineteenth Century
  • London

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