Case 17 - Crime & Punishment

Case 17 - Crime & Punishment

No thief shall be spared… who is over 12 years old. If we find him guilty according to the public law… we shall put him to death and take all he possesses.
Laws 6, Aethelstan, 10th century

In modern England, the law typically considers anyone aged under 18 a child. In the Anglo-Saxon period, the king of Wessex, Ine (abdicated AD 726), believed a ten year old should be punished as an adult. Two centuries later, King Aethelstan (died AD 939) raised the age of criminal responsibility to twelve. At least in the eyes of the law, these two kings saw the transition from childhood to adulthood as somewhere between ten and twelve years old – far younger than today.

Cambridgeshire Police Museum
Late 19th century

Although some crimes committed by children were still punishable by death, by the early... [Read more...]

Wisbech and Fenland Museum

George Kirby from Upwell, Cambridgeshire was caught stealing 2 hooks worth 6 pence from Mr... [Read more...]

Museum of Cambridge

Courts known as assizes met every 3 months to preside over the most serious local criminal cases... [Read more...]


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