Recent scholarship has underlined the crucial importance of law to the structure of 18th-century English society where the machinery of justice defined and reinforced economic, social and political distinctions.
The Sessions House in the Old Bailey--the principal center for the hearing of serious criminal cases in Greater London--witnessed the most active and striking aspects of the processes of legal administration. Almost anyone could become involved in the proceedings as a principal or as a witness to events, property or character.
The pervasive character of the law and the increasing activity of the "popular" courts, particularly at the Old Bailey sessions, created a very promising environment for serial publication. The Proceedings on the King's Commission of the Peace, Oyer and Terminer, and Gaol-Delivery of Newgate, held for the City of London and County of Middlesex at Justice Hall in the Old Bailey (commonly called the Proceedings) was one of the first, and certainly the most important to fulfill this role. It was granted the authority of the imprimatur of the Lord Mayor of London and by the 1730s had reached a high standard in terms of vigorous and accurate law reporting.
Complete Collection: 38 reels
Part One: 1714-1793
Part Two: 1793-1834