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My North & South Anniversary 6/7. John Thornton, Manufacturer and Magistrate

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!


About Agzy The Ripper

Sew, Rip, Repeat... and love each moment of it! Join me as I embark on a myriad of sewing and crafting shenanigans.

20 responses »

  1. I love the Victorian period and I appreciate very much your Nord&South Anniversary posts.
    Very insteresting and instructive. BTW Happy Anniversary !!!!

  2. Dziekuję IWantToBeAPinUp!:) ..właśnie odrabiam zaległości na Twoim blogu czytam i myślę sobie “..jak to dobrze że polskie wielbicielki Ryśka tak się prezentują…są inteligentne…są oryginane… sa oczytane i żądne wiedzy “. Dzięki raz jeszcze że nie przystajesz ni w ząb do pszenno-ziemniaczano-buraczanego obrazu Polaka!;)

    • Dzięki 🙂 Bardzo mi miło, ale przyznam że lubię pyry, polski chlebek z masełkiem i barszczyk 🙂 Nie mamy czego się wstydzić! Z tego co widzę, po US i UK jesteśmy trzecią potęgą w świecie wielbicielek Ryśka. Chociaż w tym jesteśmy w ścisłej czołówce 😉
      Patrząc na męską część polskiego społeczeństwa wątpiłam w gust Polek, ale teraz wiem że jest on jak najbardziej słuszny!

  3. As you go on, I’m enjoying more and more your analysis of N&S!!! As a magistrate, at least in Margaret’s case, M.T couldn’t be fair at all, but… he is forgiven as usual. It looks like I don’t like to be very strict to him!! 😉

    • I know the feeling, but we have to remember he wouldn’t be so kind if it were Bessy at that station. In part, he was protecting Margaret – the woman he loves, but he was also thinking about the good name of the Hale Family, and his friendship with her father.
      At least he knew that by protecting Margaret, he crossed a line, and that’s why he didn’t want any thanks from her. Probably not even a fruit bascket with a big pineapple sticking out 😉

      • Rationally thinking, I agree entirely with you!! But in this case, I don’t want to be very rational as it could bring me to my every day life. I work in a courthouse and I’ve been seen the justice be done (or not) many times… It’s really a hard process sometimes!!

        • I can’t even imagine dealing with things like that on a day to day basis. I attended a court hearing once, and it was underwhelimg, to say the least 😉 Nothing like what you see on TV! I don’t want to judge Thornton too harshly, especially that by protecting Margaret he proved that he wasn’t just the horrible master who took advantage of his workers. By the way, the actor chosen to lay Freddie was perfect. he looked like Margaret’s twin, don’t you think?

          • There were many difficult moments a long the years, but you learn to cope with them (not always)!!
            Well the funny thing about the actor who played Freddie is that I had seen him before, playing Frank Churchill in BBC Emma (2009) and I really liked him. As FC he was older and was able to show his talent more than in N&S!!

          • I’ve only seen the Gwenyth Paltrow Emma, si I’ll have to check out the BBC version. I usually enjoy their productions. The one that I felt fell short a bit was Miss Marie Lloyd – Queen of the Music Hall, with RA as Percy Courtney. It wasn’t bad, but I don’t think they quite hit the note they were aiming for there (no pun intended!).

  4. I loved Emma with GP. But I loved more Jeremy Northam as Mr. knightley!! It’s a pity I don’t see him much in other movies!! But the 2009 BBC Emma is also a lovely version!!

    • Northam sure is lovely! And so perfect for an Austin film. He’s in one of my most favorite movies – Altman’s Gosford Park, where he played Ivor Novello. he gets to sing there too 🙂
      On the subject of Gosford Park, have you seen Downton Abbey? I highly recommend it. I’m mid season 2, but had to stop as I’m missing an episode, and there’s so much happening, I dare not skip a single moment!

      • I love JN, but haven’t watched anything with him for a long time!! I watched Gosford Park (loved it) and also another one I really liked was Possession!
        I’ve heard about Downton Abbey, but I haven’t had the opportunity to watch… Guess I would like it very much!!

        • I knew I’d like it, but I had no idea how much it would remind me of Gosford. Downton Abbet takes place around the time of WWI, but I can also recommend Upstairs Downstairs, a BBC production, that is very similar to Downton but takes place prior to WWII, in London. The idea is the same- upper classes vs. the staff, different problems, but lives intertwine.

          • I’ll keep these series titles in mind. Maybe someday I’m lucky enough to be able to watch them! Thanks for the suggestions!

          • If I can suggest something, Luciana. I buy a lot of DVD’s A LOT! Most of them a TV series, so they come in expensive boxsets. Before I hand over my cash, I check if it’s something that will interest me, usually on www[dot]tv-links[dot]eu. You can watch TV series online there. If you like a few episodes, you can invest in a boxset.

  5. The storyline of N&S has a lot of subplots and subtleties and I appreciate your analysis! Yes, Thornton could have damaged his reputation by protecting Margaret from an inquest.

    • Thanks Bccmee, there’s so much going on! I an understand John getting angry at Margaret for putting him in that position, but isn’t the anger part of your brain close to the love part? At least it got Miss Hale to climb off her high horse and start appreciating the man who risked so much for her 🙂

  6. Pingback: My North & South Anniversary 7/7. Fashionable Fanny « I Want to be a Pin-Up

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