‘A Great Amount of Curiosity in his Composition’ Portraits of a Borough Coroner.

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


As part of a panel- What is the Use of Crime History without Pictures? Four Papers on Images of Lives, Trials, and the Criminal Law.

Images of judges have been a largely unexplored aspect of the study of judicial biography. Recent work by Professor Les Moran, and the Judicial Biographies project at LSE, have highlighted the importance of including analysis of images to develop a full picture of the life of the law, and lawyers.
This paper explores pictures of John Theodore Hoyle, the Borough Coroner for Newcastle upon Tyne (1857-1885), to discuss the role that such images play in a biographical study which anchors an analysis of his life and work.
As the People’s Judge, living and working in the local community, the coroner was recognised by all levels of society. However, the work of provincial coroners is under-researched in discussion of the Victorian criminal process. Contemporary images allow us to see what the community saw. A coroner does not wear robes of office and therefore, when signalling his authority, must use other signifiers. The images offer clues that allow for a rich analysis of a judge in his time and place.
The paper discusses five images of Coroner Hoyle, including an early painting identified by my research, and suggests that analysis of the life and work of a long-dead legal figure can be enriched by including sources beyond the written word.

Period2 Sept 2021
Event titleBritish Crime Historians Symposium 2021
Event typeConference
LocationLeedsShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational