the dark figure:
crime in victorian bolton

David's published titles


'Murder in the Heather: The Winter Hill Murder of 1838'

'The Dark Figure: Crime in Victorian Bolton'

'The Pendle Witch Trials of 1612'

'Bleak Christmas: The Pretoria Pit Disaster of 1910'

'The Last Temptation: The Trial of Dr Harold Shipman'

'The Trial of Dr John Bodkin Adams'

'The Trial of Dr Buck Ruxton'

'Doctors in the Dock'


They have been met with critical acclaim for David's attention to detail and his approach of looking at trial transcripts and allowing the reader to become the jury.

and crime
The Subject's Fascination

Crime in Victorian Bolton

"Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime" - Aristotle (from Goodreads)

In 1996 I undertook historical research for my MA degree in history, my Dissertation being “Crime in Victorian Bolton”. My particular interest both as an academic lawyer and historian, was to consider whether criminal activity in the towns of Northern England during the mid to late Victorian period, reflected the changes in both social and economic respects. I chose Bolton because, like several other Lancashire towns its prosperity waxed and waned in line with the fortunes of the textile industry. “The Dark Figure” is a traditional historical work primarily based on documentary survey and analysis of court and police records of Bolton covering the period from 1850-to 1880. In addition, qualitative sources including official council reports, town records and press reports provide a valuable overview of criminal activity during the period.


As with all my publications, the reader is invited to consider what I believe to be four key questions:


In what ways was crime a reflection of the social and economic climate of Bolton during the period?


What institutions or outlets acted as an impetus to crime?


What patterns emerge from a study of the statistical data and how reliable are they?


Finally, how did law enforcement agencies respond to criminal activity and were they effective deterrents?


Based on the evidence provided, the reader is left to reflect on whether such criminal activity has really changed over time?

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