The Bloody Code

The Waltham Black Act in 1723 established the system known as the Bloody Code which imposed the death penalty for over two hundred, often petty, offences. Its aim was deterrence. Those in court faced with this system were expected to defend themselves with only the assistance of the judge. Many juries practised ‘pious perjury’, often finding people not guilty or reducing the amount stolen to avoid the crime being a capital offence. An example of this is given with the case of Mary Behn at the Old Bailey.

Release date:


5 minutes

This clip is from