Law and Reform in the 1820s

Charles Upchurch

in Before Wilde

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780520258532
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943582 | DOI:
Law and Reform in the 1820s

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The most significant law reforms of the nineteenth century in Britain happened in the 1820s and 1830s. These reforms were begun by the Tories before the Great Reform Act of 1832, completed under the Whigs. They set a new pattern for imposing order by the use of criminal law, shifting away from the use of rare but brutal displays of state power on the body of the convict and toward a system where less severe punishments were implemented with much greater frequency and consistency. This broad modernization of the British law had significant implications for the regulation of sex between men and highlights the ways in which different forms of law enforcement brought different behaviors under public scrutiny and judgment. It also reveals the priorities of upper-class men, as they adjusted the laws, especially in the 1820s, to make the regulation of sex between men conform to their ideas of morality and reputation.

Keywords: law reforms; Britain; Tories; Great Reform Act; regulation; sex; men; upper-class; morality

Chapter.  9544 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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