Forgotten Victorians: Picturing John Theodore Hoyle the Coroner for Newcastle upon Tyne’

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In this paper I discuss the Victorian coroner for Newcastle upon Tyne, John Theodore Hoyle (1808-1885), in the context of five images analysed as part of a biographical study of his life and work.
Images of judges are increasingly recognised as an important, but often overlooked, element of legal biography. Coroners, and an appreciation of the important role they played in England and Wales in the nineteenth century, are a much-neglected branch of the judiciary. Identified by the doctor, MP, and radical coroner Thomas Wakley as ‘the People’ Judge’, the coroner was not a remote figure but was accessible to all levels of society. Unlike assize judges, who arrived in town with pomp and ceremony two or three times a year, each coroner lived and worked in their local community.
Discussion of the images of coroner Hoyle offer clues that allow for a rich analysis of a judge in his time and place and allow us to see what the contemporary community saw.
John Theodore Hoyle was the People’s Judge for Newcastle: responsible for holding the living to account and advocating for the dead. In identifying previously unknown images and uncatalogued portraits in the archives, my study, to which the portraits make a vital contribution, illuminates and restores to society this unjustly forgotten Newcastle coroner (once described as ‘the greatest man in Newcastle’).

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2 Sept 2022
EventBritish Association for Victorian Studies - Birmingham University, Birmingham
Duration: 1 Sept 20223 Sept 2022
Conference number: 2022


ConferenceBritish Association for Victorian Studies
Abbreviated titleBAVS
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