Unity or disunity? The trials of a Jury in R v John William Anderson: Newcastle Winter Assizes 1875

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnion and Disunion in the Nineteenth Century
EditorsJames Gregory, Daniel J.R. Grey
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter12
Pages242-258
Number of pages16
Edition1
ISBN (Electronic)9780429424915
ISBN (Print)9781138354302
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2019

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Modern History
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Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

In August 1875 in a room in Mitford Street, Scotswood, Newcastle upon Tyne, John William Anderson stabbed his wife Elizabeth to death following an argument. The pair had married in 1866 but their marital union was unhappy and characterised by drunkenness and violence, although on the day of the fatal incident the pair had seemed to be on good terms following a social gathering at a neighbour’s house. Immediately after the crime, Anderson walked to the nearest police station and confessed. The trial took place at the Winter Assizes before Mr Justice Denman on 1 December 1875.

The theme of union and disunion is used in a micro-historical examination of the nineteenth century interpretation of the law relating to murder and manslaughter in the context of a trial. The approach allows a close examination of the conduct of the judge and the jury in deciding whether the killing amounted to the greater crime of murder or the lesser crime of manslaughter.
The case will be analysed, via the newspaper reports and the evidence in Anderson’s Home Office file, to establish the respective roles of the judge and jury and seeks to examine the decision made in this capital case to consider whether there was a miscarriage of justice.