Louise Roy

Thesis title: Mapping Murder: a Socio-legal investigation of Homicide in Lancashire, c.1816–1914

Start year: 2015

Contact: 15030483@brookes.ac.uk

Supervisor(s): Dr Katherine Watson, Dr Graham Wood

Research topic

Academics have shown that Victorian judicial attitudes towards interpersonal violence were profoundly shaped by a number of factors: perceived motive, the relationship and relative status of the victim and assailant, the weapon used, and importantly whether the incident occurred in public or in private. As such, the relationship between violence and space played an important role in the construction and understanding of violence. John Carter Wood (2004) and Joanne Begiato (2006) have both demonstrated that violence is produced and constructed by the built environment as it created numerous opportunities for disputes. Moreover, class and gender interacted with spatial contexts to forge ‘imagined’ spaces, where specific locations were associated with particular kinds of legitimate and illegitimate violence. Indeed, liminal spaces played a significant role within the configuration of violence, as the borders between masculine and feminine spaces were areas where conflict often erupted and violence ensued.

Despite growing recognition of the importance of space in shaping violence, historians of crime have given surprisingly little attention to the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) as a methodological tool. This project will therefore be one of the first studies to use GIS to map nineteenth-century homicide cases, thereby making an important and original contribution to both the historiography of lethal violence and the emergent and developing field of digital history. This thesis seeks to exploit GIS as a platform to collate, integrate and analyse geo-referenced, historical data that characterise spaces and places of homicide in order to investigate the role of space upon the circumstances in which murder occurred in Lancashire (c. 1816-1914). With the aid of GIS the distribution and characteristics of homicide in Lancashire can be analysed in ways that are explicitly spatial, thereby deepening our understanding of the relationship between class, space and homicide in Victorian Lancashire.


Violent crime, Marital Violence, Murder, Manslaughter, Infanticide, Victorian Lancashire, Policing, Punishment, Media Representations of Crime, GIS, Socio-legal Study

General research interests

My research interests include the history of violent crime, policing and punishment in the northwest of England during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between space, gender and crime.

Academic school / department

School of Education, Humanities and Languages


Conference papers

  • Delivered a lecture and seminar on marital violence as part of the MA module Behaving Badly: Crime, Deviance and Civilization at Oxford Brookes University.
  • Created a blog entitled Mapping Murder: Investigating Homicide in Victorian Lancashire where my research findings can be reported and discussed within the wider academic community, the first of which is entitled: ‘These plague spots’ and ‘other equally notorious places’: Detecting Caminada’s Criminal North. A second post is provisionally titled: Throwing the baby out with the bath water: infant life disposal in Victorian Lancashire.

Further details

Scholarships and prizes

  • Oxford Brookes University Research Studentship in the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion, 2015–2018
  • John Henry Brookes Scholarship, 2014–2015.
  • 2014 Winner of The Oxford Brookes History Prize awarded to an undergraduate student for their contribution to historical study.

Other experience and professional activities

  • Co-organised the Oxford Brookes History Research Day on 27 January 2017 with Dr Katherine Watson and Professor Christiana Payne.