Skip to main content

Searching for Pigeons in the Belfry: The Inquest, the Abolition of the Deodand and the Rise of the Family

Kirton-Darling, Edward (2018) Searching for Pigeons in the Belfry: The Inquest, the Abolition of the Deodand and the Rise of the Family. Law, Culture, and the Humanities, 14 (3). pp. 439-461. ISSN 1743-8721. E-ISSN 1743-9752. (doi:10.1177/1743872114560701) (KAR id:45963)

PDF Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Download (408kB) Preview
Official URL


This article explores the abolition in 1846 of the deodand – the object or animal declared responsible for death by an inquest jury – and its relationship with the family of the deceased. Drawing on the work of Jacques Donzelot, it argues that the deodand brought contingency into the heart of law, and that its replacement with a legal right to compensation for dependents was a move to rationalize the investigation of death. This rationalization had consequences; limiting the place of the unruly community, centering and regulated the family, and disconnecting the inquest from the material of death.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/1743872114560701
Uncontrolled keywords: Deodand; Donzelot; Death; Fatal accidents; legal history; new materialism; inquest; coroner; coronial; family; dependency; financial relief; liberalism; modernity
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
K Law
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > Kent Law School
Depositing User: E. Kirton-Darling
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2014 12:59 UTC
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2020 14:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Kirton-Darling, Edward:
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year