These vignettes remind us that criminals have more than one identity. As the accused, as witnesses, as victims and as members of communities, they contribute to the narratives of crime that were woven around them by magistrates and lawyers, policemen, journalists and other commentators. Isabella Eaton gives evidence at the Old Bailey trial of Jane Murphey alias Macloughlane in December 1732, and in doing

so defends her own right to a voice. In February 1847, William Sheen stands his ground in the courtroom, when he accuses his servant Mary Ryley of taking various items from his lodging house in Whitechapel. In September 1922, Charles ‘Darby’ Sabini defends his reputation and that of his associates in an interview with the Sunday paper, the Empire News. Whilst we can never be sure of the extent to which published words are an accurate reflection of reality, these statements capture fleeting moments of negotiation with respectable society. They demonstrate that the underworld and the upperworld overlapped. As Richard Evans noted in his study of German criminals, ‘the boundaries of the underworld were always more fluid than commentators maintained’.4


Criminal Justice System Criminal Organisation Organise Crime Early Nineteenth Century Criminal Network 
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Copyright information

© Heather Shore 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leeds Beckett UniversityUK

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