Professor Robert Shoemaker
M.A., Ph.D. (Stanford) FRHistS
Department of History
Professor of Eighteenth-Century British History
I am an Emeritus Professor of British history, after having worked in the Department between 1991 and 2022. My main interests lie in social and cultural history between 1650 and 1900, particularly the history of crime, justice and punishment, urban and gender history, and the use of digital technologies in historical research. Working with Sheffield’s Digital Humanities Institute and in partnership with colleagues at other universities, I have created several web-based digital platforms, notably the Old Bailey Proceedings Online.
My first book, Prosecution and Punishment: Petty Crime and the Law in London and Rural Middlesex, ca. 1660-1725, (1991), examined the social impact of the prosecution of petty crime in London. A developing interest in gender led me to write Gender in English Society, 1650-1850: The Emergence of Separate Spheres? (1998) and edit a collection, with Mary Vincent, Gender and History in Western Europe (1998). Combining my interests on gender and crime, I subsequently wrote articles on masculinity and violence, public defamation, and public punishments, focusing particularly on eighteenth-century London.
These articles led to the publication of The London Mob: Violence and Disorder in Eighteenth-Century England (Hambledon and London, 2004), which charts the changing nature of public conflict in eighteenth-century London, focusing on street life, litigation, and the press. It documents the decline of the defamatory public insult and public violence; the changing character of duelling; the transformation of popular responses to public punishments such as the pillory; the changing character of popular protest; and the new role played by print in shaping public life.
The Old Bailey Online and Associated Projects
I am co-director, with Professor Tim Hitchcock and the late Professor Clive Emsley, of the Old Bailey Proceedings Online, which created a fully searchable edition of the entire run of published accounts of trials which took place at the Old Bailey from 1674 to 1913, and, with Hitchcock, London Lives, 1690-1800: Crime, Poverty and Social Policy in the Metropolis, a fully searchable online edition of 240,000 manuscript records and fifteen datasets which makes it possible to compile biographies of eighteenth-century Londoners. Using material from this resource, Hitchcock and I published a monograph, London Lives: Poverty, Crime and the Making of a Modern City, 1690-1800 (Cambridge University Press, 2016). Another project, Locating London’s Past, allowed data from the Old Bailey, London Lives, and other datasets to be mapped onto fully GIS compliant historical maps of London.
In January 2011 Hitchcock and I were awarded the Longman-History Today Trustees Award, presented to a person, persons or organisation that has made a major contribution to history, for our work on the Old Bailey and London Lives projects.
I then researched how knowledge about crime was created in eighteenth and nineteenth-century London. Through analysis of the literature of crime and by examining evidence of its reception in private correspondence and diaries, I examined how the explosion of print culture shaped public attitudes towards crime. Results of this work can be seen in my articles on changing representations of highway robbery and the representation of crime and criminal justice in the Old Bailey Proceedings, a chapter on print culture and the creation of public knowledge about crime, the article on 'Worrying about Crime: Experience, moral panics and public opinion in London, 1660-1800', and an article about the phenomenon of the criminal celebrity.
The Digital Panopticon
I was co-investigator of the project which created the Digital Panopticon: Tracing London Convits in Britain & Australia 1780-1925, a consolidated collection of fifty datasets of criminal justice and civil records relating to 90,000 men and women convicted at the Old Bailey. The ‘life archives’ created by this website allow one to trace the life histories, including births and deaths and crimes and punishments of individual convicts. My study of the penal outcomes of those who were sentenced to death led to the chapter I wrote, ‘Sparing the Noose: Death Sentences and the Pardoning of Old Bailey Convicts, 1763-1868’.
I was principal investigator of a British Academy funded digital research project which has extracted 76,000 descriptions of tattooed convicts from the Digital Panopticon database, used visualisations to identify key patterns in this richly detailed data over the period 1791-1925, and determined the changing meaning and significance of tattooing in English society. This led to an article I wrote with Zoe Alker, ‘Convict Tattoos and the Cultural Significance of Tattooing in Nineteenth-Century Britain’.
Victims and Criminal Justice
I was also co-investigator on the ESRC project, Victims’ Access to Justice through English Criminal Courts, 1675 to the present, which examined the changing combination of rights, resources and responsibilities accorded to victims of crime in England over three centuries. I oversaw the creation and analysis of a new database of victims of crime at the Old Bailey, 1674-1913 derived from the Old Bailey Proceedings, and researched the roles of the statutory rewards system, legal counsel and the police in encouraging and managing prosecutions, as the role of the victim in the judicial process was radically transformed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This research was published in the book, Pam Cox, Robert Shoemaker and Heather Shore, Victims and Criminal Justice: A History (Oxford, 2023). An article on the impact of financial rewards on the prosecution of crime in the eighteenth century was published in Continuity and Change.
- Research interests
I am currently working, with Tim Hitchcock, on a major update to the Old Bailey Online, to mark the twentieth anniversary of the launch of the website in 2023. This involves a comprehensive rebuild of the search engine, a new, mobile-friendly website design, updates to all the historical background pages, and data corrections and enhancements. This will be followed by updates to London Lives and Locating London’s Past. Future projects include a study of evolution of the modern anglophone criminal trial, and further research into the print culture of crime in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
- Research group
I am no longer taking new PhD students.
- Current Students
- Completed Students
- Laura Alston - Looking at the Localised: The Emotional Language of Women in England 1700-1830.
- Nicola Jakubowski - Masculine Gentry Identity in the Long Eighteenth Century: A Case Study of Cannon Hall
- Aoife O'Connor - An Ancestor in Crime: Digitisation and the Discovery of Family Deviance
- Eleanor Bland - The Identification of Criminal Suspects by Policing Agents in London, 1780-1850.
- Lucy Huggins - Crime and Economies of Makeshift: Experiences of Poverty in the Old Bailey, 1750-1799.
- Kate Gibson - Experiences of Illegitimacy in England, 1660-1834.
- Helen Churcher - Understandings of Habitual Criminality in England from 1770 to 1870.
- Nigel Cavanagh (Second supervisor) - Industrialising Communities: A Case Study of Elsecar Circa 1750-1850.
- Kate Davison (Second supervisor) - Ned Ward and a Social History of Humour in Early Eighteenth-Century England.
- Anna Jenkin - Perceptions of the Murderess in London and Paris: 1674-1789.
- Julie Banham - Politeness in Eighteenth-Century Sheffield: Practices, Accoutrements and Spaces for Sociability.
- Richard Ward - Print Culture and Responses to Crime in Mid Eighteenth-Century London.
- Teaching interests
I am no longer engaged in teaching.
- Professional activities and memberships
Between 2004 and 2008 I was Head of the History Department, and between 2014 and 2018 I was Faculty Director of Research and Innovation (Arts and Humanities).
- Cox P, Shoemaker R & Shore H (2023) Victims and Criminal Justice: A History. Oxford.
- Hitchcock T & Shoemaker R (2015) London Lives Poverty, Crime and the Making of a Modern City, 1690-1800. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Hitchcock T & Shoemaker R (2015) London Lives. Cambridge University Press.
- Shoemaker RB (1998) Gender in English Society, 1650–1850. Routledge.
- Alker Z & Shoemaker R (2022) 'Convicts and the Cultural Significance of Tattooing in Nineteenth-Century Britain'. Journal of British Studies 61:4 (2022), 835-862, doi:10.1017/jbr.2022.117
- Shoemaker R (2020) ‘Sympathy for the Criminal: The Criminal Celebrity’ in Eighteenth-Century London’. Crime History and Societies, 2020(1). View this article in WRRO
- Clayton M & Shoemaker R (2022) Blood money and the bloody code: the impact of financial rewards on criminal justice in eighteenth-century England. Continuity and Change, 37(1), 97-125.
- Shoemaker R & Ward R (2017) Understanding the Criminal: Record-Keeping, Statistics, and the Early History of Criminology in England, 1780-1860. British Journal of Criminology, 57(6), 1442-1461. View this article in WRRO
- Shoemaker RB (2017) Worrying About Crime: Experience, Moral Panics and Public Opinion in London, 1660–1800. Past and Present, 234(1), 71-100. View this article in WRRO
- Hitchcock T & Shoemaker RB (2015) Making History Online. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 25, 75-93.
- Shoemaker RB (2015) Forty Years of Crime in London (Journal). London Journal, 40(2), 89-105. View this article in WRRO
- HITCHCOCK TIM, SHOEMAKER R & WINTERS J (2011) Connected Histories: A New Web Search Tool for British Historians. History, 96(323), 354-356.
- Shoemaker RB (2010) Print and the Female Voice: Representations of Women's Crime in London, 1690-1735. Gender and History, 22(1), 75-91.
- Shoemaker RB (2008) The Old Bailey proceedings and the representation of crime and criminal justice in eighteenth-century London. J BRIT STUD, 47(3), 559-580. View this article in WRRO
- Hitchcock T & Shoemaker R (2006) Digitising History From Below: The Old Bailey Proceedings Online, 1674-1834. History Compass, 4(2), 193-202.
- Hitchcock T & Shoemaker R (2005) Editorial. The London Journal, 30(1), 2-4
- Shoemaker R (2005) Creating a searchable web of interlinked sources on eighteenth century London. Program, 39(4), 297-311.
- Shoemaker RB (2004) Narratives of crime in the "long eighteenth century". J BRIT STUD, 43(2), 272-277.
- Shoemaker RB (2002) The taming of the duel: Masculinity, honour and ritual violence in London, 1660-1800. HIST J, 45(3), 525-545.
- Shoemaker R (2001) Male honour and the decline of public violence in eighteenth-century London. Social History, 26(2), 190-208.
- Shoemaker RB (2000) The decline of public insult in London 1660-1800. PAST PRESENT(169), 97-131.
- Borsay P, Davison L, Hitchcock T, Keirn T & Shoemaker RB (1994) Stilling the Grumbling Hive: The Response to Social and Economic Problems, 1689-1750.. The Economic History Review, 47(1), 194-194.
- Borsay P, Brown C & Shoemaker RB (1993) David Dean (ed.), St Albans Quarter Sessions Rolls 1784–1820. Hertfordshire Record Society: Hertfordshire Record Publications, Volume 7, 1991. xx + 197pp. 2 illustrations. £15.95.. Urban History, 20(1), 155-156.
- SHOEMAKER RB (1991) THE CRIME-WAVE REVISITED - CRIME, LAW-ENFORCEMENT AND PUNISHMENT IN BRITAIN, 1650-1900. HIST J, 34(3), 763-768.
- Shoemaker R (2022) Sparing the Noose, Cultural Histories of Law, Media and Emotion (pp. 237-258). Routledge
- Shoemaker RB (2015) Fear of Crime in Eighteenth-Century London In champion M & lynch A (Ed.), Understanding Emotions in Early Europe (pp. 233-249). Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols. View this article in WRRO
- Shoemaker RB (2014) Reforming male manners: Public insult and the decline of violence in London, 1660-1740, English Masculinities, 1660-1800 (pp. 133-150).
- Shoemaker R (2013) Representing the adversary criminal trial: Lawyers in the Old Bailey proceedings, 1770-1800, Crime, Courtrooms and the Public Sphere in Britain, 1700-1850 (pp. 71-92). View this article in WRRO
- Shoemaker R (2012) Representing the adversary criminal trial: Lawyers in the old Bailey Proceedings, 1770-1800, Crime, Courtrooms and the Public Sphere in Britain, 1700-1850 (pp. 71-91).
- Shoemaker RB (2009) Print Culture and the Creation of Public Knowledge about Crime in Eighteenth-Century London In Knepper P, Doak J & Shapland J (Ed.) (pp. 1-21). Taylor and Francis
- Shoemaker, RB (2004) ‘Streets of Shame? The Crowd and Public Punishments in London, 1700-1820’, in S. Devereaux and P. Griffiths, eds, Penal Practice and Culture, 1500-1900: Punishing the English (Palgrave), pp. 232-57
- Shoemaker RB (2016) Informal Justice in England and Wales, 1760–1914, by Stephen Banks. The English Historical Review, 131(548), 214-215.
- Shoemaker R (2013) The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 1750-1840. By John Beattie. Oxford University Press. 2012. xiii + 272. £65.00. History, 98(330), 292-294.
- Shoemaker RB (2014) The First Bohemians: Life and Art in London's Golden Age. LONDON JOURNAL, 39(2), 171-173.
- Shoemaker RB (2010) Narrating the Poor. EIGHTEENTH-CENT LIFE, 34(3), 94-98.
- Shoemaker RB (2009) Lost Londons: change, crime and control in the capital city, 1550-1660. By Paul Griffiths. ECON HIST REV, 62(3), 738-739
- Shoemaker RB (2009) Crime and Law in England, 1750-1840: Remaking Justice from the Margins. By Peter King. ENGL HIST REV, 124(507), 443-445.
- Shoemaker RB (2008) Women and violent crime in enlightenment Scotland. By Anne-Marie Kilday. ENGL HIST REV, 123(503), 1047-1048.
- Shoemaker RB (2008) Gender, crime and judicial discretion, 1780-1830. By Garthine Walker. ENGL HIST REV, 123(502), 763-764.
- Shoemaker RB (2008) Riotous assemblies: popular protest in Hanoverian England. By Adrian Randall. ECON HIST REV, 61(1), 239-240.
- Shoemaker RB (2005) Men of blood: Violence, manliness, and criminal justice in Victorian England. By Martin Wiener. J BRIT STUD, 44(3), 653-654
- Shoemaker RB (2005) Helen Berry, Gender, Society and Print Culture in Late-Stuart England: The Cultural World of the Athenian Mercury. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003. xiv + 264 pp. 8 plates. 6 tables. Bibliography. £40.00. Urban History, 32(1), 178-179.
- SHOEMAKER R (2002) J. M. Beattie, Policing and punishment in London, 1660–1750: urban crime and the limits of terror. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.) Pages xx+491. £48.00.. Continuity and Change, 17(2), 281-299.
- Shoemaker RB (2002) Moral economy and popular protest: Crowds, conflict and authority. By Adrian Randall and Andrew Charlesworth. J HIST GEOGR, 28(1), 132-133.
- Shoemaker RB (2001) Crime and mentalities in early modern England. By Malcolm Gaskill CONTINUITY CHANGE, 16, 466-468.
- Shoemaker RB (2000) Women's worlds in seventeenth-century England: a sourcebook. Edited by Patricia Crawford. ECON HIST REV, 53(4), 821-822.
- Shoemaker RB (2000) Elaine Forman Crane, Ebb Tide in New England: Women, Seaports, and Social Change, 1630–1800. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998. x + 333pp. Bibliography. £47.00 hbk; £16.95 pbk.. Urban History, 27(1), 136-160.
- Shoemaker RB (1999) The struggle for the breeches: Gender and the making of the British working class.. J URBAN HIST, 25(4), 570-582.
- Shoemaker RB (1999) Venice and Amsterdam: A study of seventeenth-century elites.. J URBAN HIST, 25(4), 570-582
- Shoemaker RB (1999) Charity and power in early modern Italy: Benefactors and their motives in Turin, 1541-1789.. J URBAN HIST, 25(4), 570-582.
- Shoemaker RB (1999) The sense of the people: Politics, culture and imperialism in England, 1715-1785.. J URBAN HIST, 25(4), 570-582.
- Shoemaker RB (1999) Fragile lives: Violence, power and solidarity in eighteenth-century Paris. J URBAN HIST, 25(4), 570-582.
- Shoemaker RB (1998) Margaret R. Hunt, The Middling Sort: Commerce, Gender and the Family in England, 1680–1780. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. xiii + 343pp. Bibliography. £38.00.. Urban History, 25(3), 389-390.
- SHOEMAKER RB (1998) SHORTER NOTICES. The English Historical Review, CXIII(453), 1001-1002.
- Shoemaker RB (1996) Christophe Campos (ed.), ‘London and Paris from the beginnings to the year 2,000’, Franco-British Studies [special issue], nos 17 and 18 (1994). Journal of the British Institute in Paris. 110 pp. 17 illustrations. £20.00; 200 F.fr.. Urban History, 23(3), 386-387.
- Shoemaker R (1995) Brian Henry, Dublin Hanged. Crime, Law Enforcement, and Punishment in Late Eighteenth-Century Dublin. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1994. 222pp. 4 tables. 2 illustrations. Bibliography. £19.95.. Urban History, 22(3), 407-409.
- SHOEMAKER RB (1994) MARRIED WOMENS SEPARATE PROPERTY IN ENGLAND, 1660-1833 - STAVES,S. SCRIBLERIAN KIT-CATS, 26(2), 237-238.
- SHOEMAKER RB (1993) DRUNKS, WHORES AND IDLE APPRENTICES - CRIMINAL BIOGRAPHIES OF THE 18TH-CENTURY - RAWLINGS,P. SOC HIST, 18(3), 396-399.
- Shoemaker RB (1993) David Dean (ed.), St Albans Quarter Sessions Rolls 1784–1820. Hertfordshire Record Society: Hertfordshire Record Publications, Volume 7, 1991. xx + 197pp. 2 illustrations. £15.95.. Urban History, 20(1), 155-156.
- Kermode JI, Shoemaker RB, Clark P, Reid D, May E, Burgess K, Campbell A & Fowler D (1991) Short notices. Social History, 16(3), 401-408.
- SHOEMAKER RB (1991) THE CRIME-WAVE REVISITED - CRIME, LAW-ENFORCEMENT AND PUNISHMENT IN BRITAIN, 1650-1900. HIST J, 34(3), 763-768
Conference proceedings papers
- Booth C, Shoemaker R & Gaizauskas R (2022) A Language Modelling Approach to Quality Assessment of OCR’ed Historical Text. Proceedings of the 13th Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2022) (pp 5859-5864). Marseille, France, 20 June 2022 - 25 June 2022.
- Shoemaker ROBERT, Hitchcock T & Allwork LF (2018, December 11) 'Criminal Lives, 1780-1925: Punishing Old Bailey Convicts'. London Metropolitan Archives, London, UK.
- Emsley, Clive, Hitchcock Tim, and Shoemaker, Robert (2003-2018), Old Bailey Proceedings Online, 1674-1913.
- Hitchcock, Tim, Shoemaker Robert, and Winters, Jane (2011) Connected Histories: Sources for British History, 1500-1900.
- Shoemaker RB & Hitchcock T (2010) London Lives, 1690-1800: Crime, Poverty and Social Policy in the Metropolis.
- Davies, Matthew, Hitchcock, Tim, and Shoemaker, Robert (2010), Locating London's Past, 1660-1800.
- Shoemaker RB, Godfrey B, Hitchcock T, Maxwell-Stewart H & Oxley D The Digital Panopticon: Tracing London Convicts in Britain & Australia, 1780-1925.
- Shoemaker R & Hitchcock T Datasets for 'London Lives: Poverty, Crime and the Making of a Modern City, 1690-1800'.
- Hitchcock, T., Shoemaker, R., Emsley, C., Howard, S. and McLaughlin, J. et al (2021) Datasets for 'The Old Bailey Proceedings Online, 1674-1913'.