You can read my post on Victorian wallpaper here.
John Thornton, master at Marlborough Mills, a prominent manufacturer, and a leader in the Milton community.
He is also the magistrate in Milton, which is a great honour, and shows his importance.
No wonder Mrs. Thornton is so proud of her dashing son.
A magistrates court is a court that deals with smaller crimes like minor assaults, breaches of the peace, drunk and disorderly conduct, vagrancy and minor poaching, etc.
Victorian magistrates would generally deal with local cases, and if the cases dealt with are quite serious, they would be sent off to the high courts.
In Victorian times theft was considered, even of the smallest amount, a more serious crime.
While prostitution was a summary offense, Victorians viewed it as the “great social evil” of the time as they struggled to deal with issues of poverty and deviance from the norm.
The magistrates sentencing powers was limited.
They would also hear more severe cases, then refer them to Crown court because the possible sentence for being found guilty is higher than they can impose.
Local parish Constables were strictly limited by their immediate superiors, the magistrates.
In industrial cities, it was the successful middle-class manufacturers that were nominated for the post.
This meant a conflict of interests.
When workers wanted to state their grievances towards their master, it would be a fellow mill owners that judged the case.
Although we can assume that Thornton would be a fair judge, he also used his power to his own advantage.
By ruling that the death of Leonards was accidental, he saved Margaret from a further embarrassing inquiry.
This must have cost Mr. Thornoton a great deal, as he used his influence to protect the honour of the woman who had rejected him.
In truth, it shows that people of a certain class would act to protect one another.
Had Margaret not been present at the station, Thornton would have demanded a further investigation.
This is yet another reason why it’s good to be loved by John Thornton!