R v Jackson (1891)

Black and white article with sketches of Mr and Mrs Jackson

R v Jackson has long been recognised as a landmark case for women. It began as a private domestic dispute and ended as a landmark for all married women as authority for the proposition that a man cannot abduct and detain a woman simply because she is married to him.

Teresa Sutton

Edmund Jackson was a spurned and desperate man. After his wife, Emily, refused to live with him, he violently abducted her and imprisoned her in his home in order to forcibly persuade her to change her mind. Emily Jackson’s family obtained a writ of habeas corpus as a means of releasing her. Before the Court of Appeal, Edmund Jackson justified his actions claiming that ‘… if a wife refuses to live with her husband, he has the right by law to take possession of her person by force, and keep her, not imprisoned, but confined, till she consents to do so …’. The Court of Appeal held that there was no such right. No English subject had the right to imprison another person regardless of whether or not they were their wife.

Despite his most spectacular efforts, Edmund Jackson was unable to force Emily Jackson to return to live with him (although they remained married). Notwithstanding the difficulties of financial provision and practical arrangements for children of a marriage, it is now taken for granted that a married partner may leave the marriage if they wish to do so.

However, of course, domestic violence and abuse continues. According to the Fawcett Society, at least 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during their life and between 1 in 8 and 1 in 10 will experience domestic violence annually.

The full version of this landmark was written by Teresa Sutton.


Learn More

Refuge, ‘Domestic Violence – The Facts’ http://www.refuge.org.uk/get-help-now/what-is-domestic-violence/domestic-violence-the-facts/