Document analysis of Mary Price, alias Hartington, sexual offences : sodomy, 26th April, 1704. The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Ref: t17040426-42

Essay by pinkeyedwolfUniversity, Bachelor'sC+, February 2006

download word file, 5 pages 1.0

This analysis is based on the proceedings of the Old Bailey trial of Mary Price alias Hartington and concerns an accusation made against her of sodomy with her dog. It is an original document from 1704 and so it is considered a primary source document. Mary was indicted for sodomy committed with a dog, an action brought against her by an upstairs neighbour on the statement and testimony of events she claims her daughter saw the defendant commit on 25th March 1704.The case was eventually dismissed and Mary Price was acquitted by the jury of the day, due to the lack of evidence that could be substantiated against her and after an investigation by a local constable at the scene of where the alleged crime took place. There also seemed to be attestation, from the testimony of other witnesses, that there had been previous private altercations between defendant and plaintiff and the jury apparently have come to the decision that the evidence given was not able to be substantiated as credible testimony.

The crime of sodomy is a capital offence, also known as a felony offence and can at its most extreme be punishable by the death penalty, if found guilty. The death penalty was used only in extreme cases and only when the jury thought that such a sentence handed down by the judge would be fitting. If a jury felt that the person being charged did not warrant death, for example, for theft of items over a certain amount of value that would warrant the death, then they might be inclined to reduce the value of the goods stolen to below the value tariffs for automatic death penalty levels.

This case is an excellent example of highlighting the way in which everyday, ordinary people were able to...