A talk by Ginny Davis
Early criminal trials were short and swift. Defendants were not entitled to give evidence in their own defence. Punishment was usually brutal and public. By the 18th century, the English legal system was nicknamed ‘the Bloody Code’, as more than two hundred crimes – ranging from impersonating a Chelsea Pensioner to high treason – were punishable by death. In the following centuries, the penal system introduced alternative forms of sentence, including transportation, hard labour, penal servitude and, eventually, imprisonment.
Ginny Davis chronicles this fascinating period of change in judicial and government treatment of criminals – with examples of felons, their crimes and sentences – in a light-hearted talk which includes the origin in capital punishment of several modern-day expressions.
Ginny read Law at the University of Cambridge and practised as a criminal barrister. She now writes full time and performs her own material