Connections may be drawn between ‘microhistory’ - which takes a specific focus on a place, person or event to illustrate or explore larger themes - and its possible antecedents in nineteenth-century compilations of crimes, trials and other ‘strange-but-true stories’. These factors make it an appropriate methodology for addressing the case of Archibald Bolam. On 7th December 1838, Bolam was found unconscious, alongside a dead body, in a burning room at the Savings Bank, Newcastle upon Tyne. Bolam claimed he had been attacked by an intruder, yet the room showed no evidence of a struggle. Bolam’s story was doubted and he was tried for Wilful Murder in Spring of 1839. Bolam’s arrest and trial captured the public imagination; pamphlets were published, and wild speculation in the press led to the editor of a London newspaper being imprisoned and newspaper publishers fined the huge sum of £10,000. Bolam’s case was included as a precedent in legal manuals addressing the role of circumstantial evidence and contempt of court and the highly unusual circumstances in which a trial may be postponed. Our paper draws on contemporary newspaper accounts and images to explore this peculiar case, which could be mistaken for high Victorian crime fiction.
|Publication status||Published - 5 Sep 2017|
|Event||Criminal Heritage: Crime, Fiction, and History - Leeds, UK|
Duration: 5 Sep 2017 → …
|Conference||Criminal Heritage: Crime, Fiction, and History|
|Period||5/09/17 → …|