They obey all magistrates and all good lawes and we thinke our cittie happie to enjoye them’: migrants and civic order in early modern english towns
Aliens -- England -- History -- 16th century England -- Emigration and immigration -- History -- 16th century Crime prevention -- England -- History -- 16th century Punishment -- England -- History -- 16th centrury Ξένοι -- Αγγλία -- Ιστορία -- 16ος αιώνας Αγγλία -- Αποδημία και εποίκηση -- Ιστορία -- 16ος αιώνας Έγκλημα, Πρόληψη του -- Αγγλία -- Ιστορία -- 16ος αιώνας Τιμωρία -- Αγγλία -- Ιστορία -- 16ος αιώνας
The paper looks at civic order and crime control in early modern English cities with a large contingent of foreign immigrants within their city walls (such as London, Norwich, Sandwich, Southampton, Colchester and other towns mainly in the southeast of England). It outlines the strategies of shared authority between urban magistrates and leaders of migrant communities (which were often elders and ministers of the religious communities of the immigrants) in cases of crime and criminal justice. In this context the paper analyses the contemporary discourse among aliens and indigenous population on what was perceived as the ‘criminal potential’ of these minority groups and the measures taken to prevent what were seen as specific ‘minority crimes’, which were often associated with breaches of economic rules and regulations, but also with social and religious misdemeanour. The paper offers important insights into the collaboration between courts, citizens and minorities. Immigrant groups with their specific social and economic networks were vulnerable to xenophobic attacks, but also enjoyed considerable liberties granted by the town authorities in the light of the economic advantages these foreign workers were expected to provide for their host community (as skilled specialists in certain crafts within the textile and luxury industries). They often had their own courts to deal with offences within their community, their leaders sat on the respective boards of trade and industry in their host community. They were asked for advice and expected to implement the penalties raised by magistrates and other courts in the town. The paper, therefore, contributes to the panel’s interest in the interplay between official justice and autonomous forms and rituals of crime control in early modern urban society.
Paper presented at Seventh International Conference on Urban History: European City in Comparative Perspective, Panteion University, Athens - Piraeus, Greece, 27-30 October 2004, Session: Urban stability and civic liberties: two fundamental concepts and the practice of crime control in early modern european cities (1400-1800)