The Monster Evil

Policing and Violence in Victorian Liverpool

John E. Archer

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ISBN: 9781846316838

Publication: March 28, 2011

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Liverpool gained a unique and notorious reputation during the 19th century for being an abnormally violent and criminal place. ‘The Monster Evil’ intends to explore the historical foundations of this stigmatization: were the fears real or an invention of the Victorian newspapers? In answering such questions the book examines Liverpool’s violent crime and how effectively it was policed by the newly established constabulary through the use of local and national press reports, contemporary accounts and police records. In doing so issues relating to public acceptance and tolerance of violence and the police will be explored. All forms of criminal interpersonal violence are described and analysed in the context of the city; including notorious murders such as the Tithebarn-street kicking of 1874, the ‘wholesale poisonings’ by two sisters in 1883 and the killing of young children by other young children in 1855 and 1891. Everyday acts of violence in the home between family members, or in the street, whether as acts of robbery or as drunken unprovoked attacks on strangers or against the police, are also given prominence. An extract on police night shift duty by Liverpool’s foremost 19th-century journalist, Hugh Shimmin, is included. The book, which covers much of the Victorian period, is based on original and extensive research. Through an examination of a wide range of ‘typical’ case studies and news stories, which exemplify the various kinds of violent crime found in Liverpool, readers will find the book accessible, authoritative and surprising in its resonance with present day crime and its news coverage by the media.

Dr John E. Archer is an Honorary Research Fellow, Edge Hill University and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

List of illustrations, figures and tables Preface Acknowledgements List of abbreviations Street map of Liverpool in the 1880s Part I. Liverpool 1. Liverpool and the taint of criminality 2. Liverpool: 'The most immoral of all immoral places' Part II. Policing the borough 3. ‘An army to check barbarism’: the policing of Liverpool 4. The community and the police: evidence, lies and violence Part III. Violent crime in Liverpool 5. The fighting Irish 6. The fist, the boot and the knife: male-on-male violence 7. The Liverpool cornermen, gangs and garrotting 8. Female savages and tippling viragoes: violent women 9. Women as victims of domestic and sexual violence 10. ‘A constant state of strife’: family violence 11. ‘Boy brigands’ and ‘young savages’: juvenile criminals and their young victims 12. ‘A most unmerciful beating’: adult violence to children 13. A conclusion. ‘Giving a dog a bad name’: Liverpool and its criminal reputation in the nineteenth century Appendix. Saturday night and Sunday morning: Hugh Shimmin's account of the Rosehill night shift Notes Bibliography General index Index of people Index of street names and places

The Monster Evil is the fruit of extensive research, and the first genuinely comprehensive treatment of violent crime in this period. Archer produces much more than a ‘case study’ of violence in Victorian England ; The Monster Evil is a powerful account, the likes of which local historians of crime would do well to imitate.
  Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies, Vol. 16, no 1

... the book is well written and perceptive. The accounts are often grim, but nonetheless fascinating, and the book should appeal to a wide audience.
  Journal of British Studies, Vol. 51, No. 2

John Archer's study "The Monster Evil" is not so much a police history in a narrow sense but rather a history of violence. Archer reconstructs Liverpool's reputation as the criminal capital of Britain during the nineteenth century.
  Belegex. H-Soz-u-Kult

Victorian Liverpool had an unenviable reputation for violence. This book sets out to assess both the scale and variety of Liverpool’s violence, and the means by which it was policed. It has been exhaustively researched and is persuasively argued. It adds significantly to the wider knowledge of, and to the debates about the history of criminal violence and of policing. Finally, it might also be read usefully by contemporary politicians and media pundits.
Clive Emsley  

Format: Paperback

Size: 234 x 156 mm

281 Pages

ISBN: 9781846316838

Publication: March 28, 2011

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