Allyson N. May

- Associate Professor

image of Allyson N. May
PhD, University of Toronto, 1997
Telephone: 519-661-2111 ext. 85272

Research Interests

I am a historian of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. One of my specialities is the history of the English criminal trial and my first book, The Bar & the Old Bailey, described the emergence of a criminal bar and the development of an ethics of advocacy for defence counsel. More recently I’ve been exploring the issue of prosecution, both in a book chapter that re-evaluates the career of barrister William Garrow and in a manuscript nearing completion, ‘The Russell Murder: Class, Servitude, and Criminal Justice in Early Victorian London’. As the title indicates, that monograph investigates master and servant relations – Lord William Russell was murdered by his valet – as well as revealing the way in which ‘public’ prosecutions were conducted prior to the creation of a Crown prosecution service.

I am also interested in the history of the English countryside and have published on fox hunting in this regard.



Fox Hunting Controversy

The Fox-Hunting Controversy, 1781-2004: Class and Cruelty (Farnham, Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2013)

Bar and the Old Bailey

The Bar and the Old Bailey, 1750-1850 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003)

Edited Collections

Criminal Justice during the Long Eighteenth Century: Theatre, Representation and Emotion, ed. David Lemmings and Allyson N. May (London: Routledge, 2019)

Criminal Justice in the Old World and the New: Essays in Honour of J.M. Beattie, ed. Greg T. Smith, Allyson N. May, and Simon Devereaux (Toronto: Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto, 1998)

Book Chapters

Regulation and Imagination

 ‘Fox-hunting Regulation in the United Kingdom: A Short History’, in Ross E. Davies, ed., Regulation and Imagination: Legal and Literary Perspectives on Fox-hunting (Washington, DC: Green Bag, 2022)

‘Garrow for the Prosecution’, in Katie Barclay and Amy Milka, eds., Law, Media, Emotion and the Self: Public Justice in Eighteenth-Century Britain (London: Routledge, 2022)

‘Irish Sensibilities and the English Bar: The Advocacy of Charles Phillips’, in David Lemmings and Allyson N. May, eds., Criminal Justice during the Long Eighteenth Century: Theatre, Representation and Emotion (London: Routledge, 2019)

‘Fiction or “Faction”?: Literary Representations of the Early Nineteenth-Century Criminal Courtroom’, in David Lemmings, ed., Crime, Courtrooms and the Public Sphere in Britain, 1700-1850 (Farnham, Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2012)

Conferences Organized

In 2007 I initiated a series of biennial conferences titled Law and Governance in Britain, which continued for ten years. Co-hosted by the Faculty of Law and the Department of History, this series was inspired by the association of Western University with legal history established by David H. Flaherty and continued in the work of Rande Kostal and Margaret McGlynn as well as myself. After the first meeting, conferences alternated between the early modern (hosted by Margaret McGlynn) and modern periods. Experts drawn from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia as well as across Canada met to discuss various issues relating to the social history of the law. I am profoundly grateful to all participants.