Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Legal History: Anglo American Juries Research Guide

This guide identifies general and primary sources for jury legal history.

Trials & Collections of Trials

There rarely was, if ever, any court transcripts of trials available in the 17th and 18th centuries, mostly for technological reasons. Researchers must rely on reports of trials in newspapers, in the pulp press, and in individual publications. As technology, first with shorthand, and later with recordings and tapings, made reporting of trials more accurate, collections of trials appear, as well as regular publication of criminal court proceedings. Many of these are now available online in databases, but some are still only available in print. Listed here are examples of individual trials and some collections that are good sources.

A. Individual English Trials

Many individual trial proceedings are also available in original editions, but mostly either in microfilm, or in a variety of online databases, such as The Making of Modern Law, Early English Books Online, The Making of the Modern World, HeinOnline, Old Bailey sessions Proceedings andLLMC, to name a few. To find those available at Georgetown, search the Library‰s catalog under the subject Trials or individual defendant names. You can also find them online at various web sites through Google and Yahoo. Below are listed just a few examples.

KD270 .F75 1792 Quarto
Michael Foster, A Report of Some Proceedings on the Commission for the Trial of the Rebels in the Year 1746, in the County of Surry; and of Other Crown Cases. To Which Are Added Discourses Upon a Few Branches of the Crown Law (London: E. and R. Brooke, 3rd ed.1792.

This is a report of some of the trials that occurred in the wake of the Scottish Jacobite revolt of 1745. The Library also has a 1763 edition, an 1809 edition and a 1982 reprint of the 1762 edition.

KD370 .M3 1725 Folio
The Tryal of Thomas Earl of Macclesfield, in the House of Peers, For High Crimes and Misdemeanors, Upon an Impeachment by the Knights Citizens and Burgesses in Parliament Assembled, in the Name of Themselves and of all the Commons of Great-Britain. Begun the 6th Day of May 1725, and From Thence Continued by Several Adjournments Until the 27th Day of the Same Month. Published by Order of the House of Peers (London: Printed by Sam. Buckley, 1725).

KD370 .W5 1769 Octavo
A Complete Collection of the Genuine Papers, Letters, &c. in the Case of John Wilkes, Esq. Elected Knight of the Shire For the County of Middlesex, March 28, 1768 (Berlin 1769).

This is a famous seditious libel case, published in the newspaper The North Britton, which was involved in said libel case.

KD371.P6 T49 1820 Quarto
The Trials of Arthur Thistlewood, and Others, For High Treason, at the Old Bailey Sessions-House, Commencing on Saturday, the 15th, and Ending on Thursday, the 27th of April, 1820 (London: Printed for Sherwood, Neely, & Jones 1820).

Part of the Cato Street Conspiracy. See also under Wilkinson.

KDC186 .M32 1818 Octavo
The Trials of James, Duncan and Robert M'Gregor, Three Sons of the Celebrated Rob Roy, Before the High Court of Justiciary, in the Years 1752, 1753, and 1754 (Edinburgh: Printed by J. Hay and Co. 1818).

Rob Roy‰s sons‰ trial

KD371.P6 W5 1820 Quarto
George Theodore Wilkinson, An Authentic History of the Cato-Street Conspiracy, With the Trials at Large of the Conspirators, For High Treason and Murder; a Description of Their Weapons and Combustible Machines, and Every Particular Connected With the Rise, Progress, Discovery, and Termination of the Horrid Plot. With Portraits of the Conspirators, Taken During Their Trials (London: Printed for Thomas Kelly 1820).

Trials of Arthur Thistlewood, James Ings, J.T. Brunt, R. Tidd and W. Davidson for high treason.. Thistlewood, Brunt and Tidd were also indicted, but not tried, for the murder of Richard Smithers.

B. Collections of English Trials

Below are listed some of the collections of trials that have been printed to either focus on famous trials, or gather materials on trials unavailable in the English Reports.

KDC116 .A77 1785
Hugo Arnot, A Collection and Abridgement of Celebrated Criminal Trials in Scotland, From A.D. 1536 to 1784, With Historical and Critical Remarks (Edinburgh: Printed by W. Smellie 1785).

A later 1812 edition is also available in Special Collections.

KD370 .B67 1825 Quarto
George Henry Borrow, Celebrated Trials and Remarkable Cases of Criminal Jurisprudence From the Earliest Records to the Year 1825 (6 vols. London: Knight & Lacey 1825).

Includes criminal trials in England and France.

KD370 .B67 1928
George Henry Borrow, Celebrated Trials and Remarkable Cases of Criminal Jurisprudence From the Earliest Records to the Year 1825 (2 vols. Edward Hale Bierstadt ed.,New York: Payson & Clarke ltd., revised ed.1928).

A more compact and revised edition of the first 1825 edition.

KD371.P6 C6 1730 Folio
A Complete Collection of State-Trials, and Proceedings for High-Treason, and Other Crimes and Misdemeanours, From the Reign of King Richard II, to the End of the Reign of King George I (6 vols. London: Printed for J. Walthoe, Sen., R. Vincent, Sen., etc., 2d ed.1730.

The first edition was published anonymously under the title Compleat Collection of State-Tryals in 1719, but attributed to Thomas Salmon. See below at Salmon.

KD370 .H6 1809 Quarto
Cobbett‰s Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason, and Other Crimes and Misdemeanor From the Earliest Period to the Present Time [1163-1820] (33 vols. Thomas B. Howell ed., London: R. Bagshaw, et al. 1809-1828).

Also known as Cobbett‰s State Trials, this set includes notorious cases not found in The English Reports, or specific Nominatives. It is also available in microfiche. Both editions include an index to names of cases, and a subject index. A CD-ROM version is available in Special Collections.

KD370 .S81 1982r
Reports of State Trials: New Series, 1820-1858 (8 vols. John MacDonell & J.E.P. Wallis eds., London: Professional Books 1982) (Reprint of 1888-1898 ed.).

KD370 .M43 1803 Quarto William M. Medland & Charles Weobly, A Collection of Remarkable and Interesting Criminal Trials, Actions at Law, &c. to Which is Prefixed, an Essay on Reprieve and Pardon, and Biographical Sketches of John Lord Eldon, and Mr. Mingay (3 vols. London: Printed by J.D. Dewick, for J. Badcock 1803-1805).

Often overlooked, this 3 volume set has very interesting criminal trials.

KD370 .P45 1826 Quarto
State Trials; Or, a Collection of the Most Interesting Trials Prior to the Revolution of 1688 (2 vols. Samuel March Phillipps ed., London: Published by W. Walker 1826).

KDC116 .P68 1833 Quarto
Robert Pitcairn, Ancient Criminal Trials in Scotland, Compiled From the Original Records and Mss., With Historical Illustrations, &c (Edinburgh: Printed for the Maitland Club 1833).

KD370 .S35 1741 Folio
Thomas Salmon, A New Abridgement and Critical Review of the State Trials. Wherein Are Inserted, Several Trials Not in Any Other Collection. Also Some Trials That Were Taken in Haste and Scarce Intelligible, Are Brought Into Regular Order; and Many Deficiencies Throughout the Whole Supply'd (2 vols. Dublin: Printed for J. Leathley, G. Ewing, W. Smith & P. Crampton, 2d ed. 1741).

Includes an ,alphabetical index of the names of the prisoners tried, the times when, their crimes, and their punishment.Š

KD370 .S45 1985
Select Trials at the Sessions-House in the Old-Bailey (4 vols. in 2 New York: Garland 1985) (reprint of 1742 ed.).

These volumes cover select trials at the Old Bailey Criminal Court from 1720 to 1741.

KD608 .S72 1906
State Trials of the Reign of Edward the First, 1289-1293 (T.F. Tout & Hilda Johnstone eds., London: Royal Historical Society 1906).

KD370 .T6 1850 Quarto
William Charles Townsend, Modern State Trials. Revised and Illustrated With Essays and Notes(2 vols. London: Printed for Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans 1850).

Also available in a 1989 reprint, and online at The Making of Modern Law, and HeinOnline.

C. Individual American Trials

Check under individual defendants‰ names in the Library‰s catalog for individual trials availability. Just a few are listed here. Many of these individual trials have been microfilmed, and digitized, available in the database The Making of Modern Law.

KF223.Z4 K38 1972
James Alexander, A Brief Narrative of the Case and Trial of John Peter Zenger, Printer of the New York Weekly Journal (Stanley Nider Katz ed., Cambridge, Ma.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2d ed. 1972).

KF223.S4 L55 1807 Quarto
Thomas Lloyd, The Trials of William S. Smith, and Samuel G. Ogden, For Misdemeanours, Had in the Circuit Court of the United States For the New-York District, in July, 1806. With a Preliminary Account of the Proceedings of the Same Court Against Messrs. Smith & Ogden, in the Preceding April Term. New York: Printed by and for I. Riley and Co., 1807.

Shelf 614
John Peter Zenger, The Trial of John Peter Zenger, of New-York, Printer: Who Was Charged With Having Printed and Published a Libel Against the Government; and Acquitted. With a Narrative of His Case. To Which Is Now Added, Being Never Printed Before, the Trial of Mr. William Owen, Bookseller, Near Temple-Bar, Who Was Also Charged With the Publication of a Libel Against the Government of Which He Was Honourably Acquitted By a Jury of Free-Born Englishmen, Citizens of London (London: John Almon 1765).

D. Collections of American Trials

Just a few are listed here. Collections of trials can also be found at the Internet site Famous Trials.

The Making of Modern Law

Henry Lauren Clinton, Celebrated Trials, With Nine Portraits (New York: Harper & Bros. 1897).

Includes such trials as the trial of A. Oakley Hall, Mayor of New York and the Cunningham-Burdell murder case.

HV6524 .D75 1991
Thomas Samuel Duke, Celebrated Criminal Cases of America (Montclair, N.J.: Patterson Smith 1991) (reprint of 1910 ed.).

KF220 .F76 1997
Elizabeth Frost-Knappman & Kathryn Cullen-DuPont, Women's Rights on Trial: 101 Historic Trials From Anne Hutchinson to the Virginia Military Institute Cadets (Detroit: Gale 1997).

KF220 .A4
American State Trials: A Collection of the Important and Interesting Criminal Trials Which Have Taken Place in the United States From the Beginning of Our Government to the Present Day (16 vols. John Davidson Lawson ed., St. Louis: Thomas Law Books 1914-1936).

Includes an index to the first 14 vols.

KF220 .W48 1849 Quarto
Francis Wharton, State Trials of the United States During the Administrations of Washington and Adams With References, Historical and Professional, and Preliminary Notes on the Politics of the Times (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart 1849).