From today's featured article
Lord Chief Justice Alexander Cockburn
Eastbourne manslaughter (R v Hopley) was an 1860 legal case in
Eastbourne, England, about the death of a teenage pupil at the hands of his teacher, Thomas Hopley. Reginald Cancellor's parents gave Hopley permission to use
corporal punishment to overcome what he perceived as the boy's stubbornness. After the boy died, the teacher insisted that the beating was justifiable and that he was not guilty of any crime. An inquest into Cancellor's death began when his brother requested an
autopsy. As a result of the inquest Hopley was arrested and charged with
manslaughter. He was found guilty at trial and sentenced to four years in prison. Hopley's conviction was upheld by the
Court of King's Bench (Chief Justice
Alexander Cockburn pictured), which said that a schoolmaster "may for the purpose of correcting what is evil in the child, inflict moderate and reasonable corporal punishment." The trial was sensationalised by the
Victorian press and incited debate over the use of corporal punishment in schools. Physical discipline was officially banned in British schools more than a century later. (
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