Below is another bit culled from my dissertation, this time looking at rape statistics from the medieval and early modern periods.  

Historical Statistics

Rape in the medieval and early modern periods was chronically underreported due to factors such as victim’s embarrassment and the fear of retribution from the man who raped them.  At the Wiltshire 1249 eyre, where rape was most heavily reported of any eyre in the medieval period, reported rapes comprised about 10% of the total reported crimes.  Where the assaulter was found guilty, punishment more often than not was limited to fines delivered to the father or guardian of the woman.  In Carter’s study of rape in England in the period of 1208-1321, he discovered 145 cases of rape in five different counties of England (Berkshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Yorkshire and London).  Of those prosecutions for rape, 44 were found guilty of rape and of those who were found guilty 16% were actually imprisoned and 5% were hanged for their crime.  The raw numbers do not take into account the specifics of the crime, such as the class status of both victim and accused, but they do provide an interesting insight into the prosecution of rape in the period leading up to the Tudor/Stuart innovations in the definition of “rape.”
Punishment
Number of Punishments
% of Total
Arrest and Imprisonment
7
16%
Compromise
8
18%
Fine: 1 Mark
3
7%
Fine: ½ Mark
5
11%
Fine: 10 Marks
2
5%
Fine: 100 Shillings
1
2%
Fine: 20 Shillings
4
9%
Fine: 3 Marks
1
2%
Fine: 40 Shillings
1
2%
Hanging
2
5%
Punished for Outlawry
8
18%
Turned over to Ecclesiastical Court
2
5%
Total
44
100%
Table 1.  Source: Carter, John Marshall.  Rape in Medieval England. Table 31. 122.
Invariably, historical statistics only present a partial image of the period in question.  They are, at best, indicators of general trends rather than fine instruments of sociological research.  Nevertheless, here the work of Nazife Bashar into sexual crimes in the Home Counties illustrates a few major points that echo the conclusions drawn in chapter one.  Rape prosecutions, for instance, were extremely rare throughout the period in comparison to other major crimes.
Rape Statistics 1550-1700
Period
County
Larceny
Burglary
Homicides
Rape
1558-1603
Sussex
>1000
~150
~100
15
1573-1603
Hertfordshire
~200
50
50
4
1558-1700
Sussex
48
1558-1700
Hertfordshire
21
Table 2. Source: Bashar, Nazife. “Rape in England between 1550-1700.” The Sexual Dynamics of History: Men’s Power,Women’s Resistance.  London: Pluto P, 1983. 28-45.
Further, the prosecutions, when they actually did occur, were heavily sided in favour of the defendant, who stood a 16% chance of being found guilty of rape.  Though the majority of those who were found guilty were eventually sentenced to hang, there was a significant number who were recuperated or recovered into the community through the benefit of the clergy or through outright reprieve.
Rape Statistics in the Home Counties (Essex, Kent, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Sussex)
Rape Cases (Total)
Guilty
Not Guilty
Unknown
1558-1700
274
45
215
14
Of the Guilty
Of the Not Guilty
Hanged
31
141
Acquitted Outright
Pleaded Clergy
6
6
Released
Reprieved
6
15
Remained at Large
Sentence not Given
2
53
Ignoramus
Of the Ignoramus, 2/3 involved adult women.
Table 3. Source: Bashar, Nazife. “Rape in England between 1550-1700.” The Sexual Dynamics of History: Men’s Power,Women’s Resistance.  London: Pluto P, 1983. 28-45.
Victims were, by and large, below the age of 18 throughout the early modern period, which is one of the reasons why the Joan Seler case, outlined in chapter one, though it is from the late medieval period, still has resonance in the early modern period.  The statistics regarding rape of the young perhaps help to explain the Tudor interest in realigning the concept of consent and the age of consent.
Victimology (Where Victim’s Age is Given)
Victim Under 18
Victim Under 10
Victim Over 18
1558-1599
53
22
20
1600-49
57
17
24
1650-1700
21
5
32
Table 4. Source: Bashar, Nazife. “Rape in England between 1550-1700.” The Sexual Dynamics of History: Men’s Power,Women’s Resistance.  London: Pluto P, 1983. 28-45.
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