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1810-1830 was a crucial period in the development of New South Wales, when the legal foundations of a free-settler and emancipist society were laid. This book explores the relationship of a colonial people with English law and looks at the practice of law among the ordinary population. Paula Jane Byrne traces the boundaries between property, sexuality and violence, drawing from court records, dispositions and proceedings. She asks: what did ordinary people understand by guilt, suspicion, evidence and the term 'offence'? The book reconstructs the legal process with great detail and richness and evokes the everyday lives of people in the colony. It focuses on the different valuing of males and females and analyses the complex gender relations of the early colony. This book innovatively ties recent ideas on convict society and Australian colonial women's history to the legal, economic and social history of early New South Wales.