Britain and its internal others, 1750–1800

Under rule of law

By Dana Rabin

Britain and its internal others, 1750–1800


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2040-3
  • Pages: 280
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: September 2017
  • BIC Category: HISTORY / Modern / 19th Century, History, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Legal History, HISTORY / Modern / 18th Century, HISTORY / Social History, LAW / Legal History, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, Humanities / Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900, Humanities / Colonialism & imperialism
  • Series: Studies in Imperialism


The rule of law, an ideology of equality and universality that justified Britain's eighteenth-century imperial claims, was the product not of abstract principles but imperial contact. As the Empire expanded, encompassing greater religious, ethnic and racial diversity, the law paradoxically contained and maintained these very differences.

This book revisits six notorious incidents that occasioned vigorous debate in London's courtrooms, streets and presses: the Jewish Naturalization Act and the Elizabeth Canning case (1753-54); the Somerset Case (1771-72); the Gordon Riots (1780); the mutinies of 1797; and Union with Ireland (1800). Each of these cases adjudicated the presence of outsiders in London - from Jews and Gypsies to Africans and Catholics. The demands of these internal others to equality before the law drew them into the legal system, challenging longstanding notions of English identity and exposing contradictions in the rule of law.


'Britain and its internal others creates and stirs a much needed debate on the history of equality before the law by those who were perceived as other due to colonialism. Bringing together six distinct legal events with similar themes is no easy feat, and Rabin does so with ease coupled with detailed scrutiny and explanations.'
Rechtsgeschichte - Legal History


Introduction: Empire and law, 'Firmly united by the circle of the British diadem'
1 Internal others: Jews, Gypsies, and Jacobites
2 'In a country of liberty?':Sslavery, villeinage and the making of whiteness in the Somerset case (1772)
3 Imperial disruptions: City, nation, and empire in the Gordon Riots
4 'This fleet is not yet republican': Conceptions of law in the mutinies of 1797
5 Wedding and Bedding: making the Union with Ireland, 1800
Select bibliography


Dana Y. Rabin is Associate Professor of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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