Database Methodology:

Information about Cases


The Legal Cases table is the key building block of the database. Each entry in the Legal Cases table was a case heard before the courts and is assigned a unique primary key identifier (CaseID). In addition to the CaseID, each entry in the Legal Cases table records the year of the case, the type of crime committed, whether there was alcohol involved, and some basic information about sentencing and indictment outcomes. For example, C3398 is listed as an assault case that occurred in 1659 and was ruled a “True Bill.” SCGV records only the prosecution of crime, not the crimes themselves. For example, though an offense of bastardy necessarily implied that either adultery or fornication had taken place, it was only listed as bastardy unless documents specifically indicated prosecution for the offense of adultery or fornication. This is not only important in defining the scope of this study, but also for understanding what this study can and cannot answer. This study cannot tell you, for example, how many illegitimate children were born between 1642 and 1660. It can, however–with some qualifications about geography and record survival–show how many expectant parents were prosecuted for bastardy between 1642 and 1660. These cases, and thus the Legal Cases table, form the core of the database. Information on both documents and people links back to the Legal Cases table using the CaseIDs.