More Than a Species of Larceny: Fraud Laws and Their Uses in the Eighteenth Century

Cerian Griffiths*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article explores the under-researched area of fraud in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Fraud offences rarely feature in criminal law historiography, and where they do, they are positioned as an afterthought to theft and forgery. This article redresses this oversight and presents an in-depth analysis of eighteenth-century jurisprudence around frauds, providing a long-overdue mapping of the most common offences within this diffuse area of law. This article reveals the ways in which fraud offences were situated in the wider criminal law, and how frauds interacted with other property offences. This article maps the contours of the emerging modern offence of fraud, and in doing so makes the case for a rethinking of the significance of the criminal law of fraud and its place in the development of the modern criminal law. Finally, by assessing the ways in which fraud straddled the line between felony and misdemeanour, this article provides a lens through which to better understand eighteenth and early nineteenth century criminal procedure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-54
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Legal History
Issue number1
Early online date23 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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