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Dr Helen Rutherford

Associate Professor

Department: Northumbria Law School

I am a qualified solicitor. I graduated from Newcastle University in 1989 with an LL.B (hons) degree and then completed the Law Society Finals at the College of Law in York. I have an MA in history and a PhD in legal history from Newcastle University. 

I trained as a solicitor with Hay and Kilner, in Newcastle, and on qualification worked in the litigation department handling both claimant and defendant personal injury and clinical negligence cases. After six years I moved to Crutes Law Firm (now DWF) where I conducted defendant personal injury and clinical negligence litigation on behalf of major insurance companies and the NHSLA (NHS Resolution).

I joined the University in 2012. I have a PGCE and I am a Qualified Teacher, a qualified coach, a Fellow of the Society for Education and Training, and a Fellow of the HEA. I am Programme Leader for the Law Foundation Year. I teach Civil Litigation, Legal History, and Inquests on the MLaw and LLB degrees. In previous years I managed civil firms in the Student Law Office and taught English Legal System, Tort, and Trials of Dissenters. I supervise final year archival/legal history projects.

In 2023/24 I am leading a new approach to legal history dissertations (a joint project with Dr Jennifer Aston from Humanities) in partnership with Tyne and Wear Archives and the National Archives.


Helen Rutherford

Campus Address

CCE 313

My main research is in Legal History. My specific research passion is nineteenth century coroners and inquests. I  research nineteenth century lives, trials, and punishment- with a focus on the North East of England. I am interested in legal biography, images of the law, the use of digital newspapers for research, and microhistorical inquiry.

My Phd is titled: The Coroner in an Emerging Industrial Society: John Theodore Hoyle and Newcastle upon Tyne 1857-1885. 

I am working on a set of primary source books on the nineteenth century coroner for Routledge Primary Source Collections and researching the Newcastle River Police and early forensic investigation by the Newcastle police.

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Courting Power: discussion and analysis of a courtroom-based art installation informed by a legal historical case study, Latchem, J., Rutherford, H. 2021, In: Law and Humanities
  • English Legal System [5th edition], Rutherford, H., Kotecha, B., Macfarlane, A. 17 May 2022
  • Execution Culture in Nineteenth Century Britain: From Public Spectacle to Hidden Ritual, Low, P., Rutherford, H., Sandford-Couch, C. 30 Nov 2020
  • “13 yards off the big gate and 37 yards up the West Walls”: Crime scene investigation in mid-nineteenth century Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Rutherford, H., Sandford-Couch, C. 23 Dec 2019, Crime and the Construction of Forensic Objectivity from 1850, Palgrave Macmillan
  • The Coroner in an Emerging Industrial Society: John Theodore Hoyle and Newcastle upon Tyne 1857-1885, Rutherford, H. Apr 2021
  • 'All That They Had Heard, All That They Had Seen': Questions of Fairness and Justice in the Trial of George Vass, Rutherford, H., Sandford-Couch, C. 12 Nov 2020, Fair and Unfair Trials in the British Isles, 1800-1940: , London, Bloomsbury
  • The Newcastle Gaol Project, Rutherford, H. May 2021
  • Joseph Bouet in the Durham Criminal Court (c.1825-1856): Picturing Nineteenth Century Courtroom Actors. Part 1: Lines of Enquiry, Rutherford, H., Sandford-Couch, C. 3 Jul 2023, In: Law and Humanities
  • Joseph Bouet in the Durham Criminal Court (c.1825-1856): Picturing Nineteenth Century Courtroom Actors. Part 2: Three Case Studies, Rutherford, H., Sandford-Couch, C. Jul 2023, In: Law and Humanities
  • The Coroner and the Medical Profession in Victorian Newcastle Upon Tyne ‘… Antagonism and Offence Towards the Medical Profession Such as has Rarely Been Exhibited.’, Rutherford, H. Jul 2023, In: Northern History

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Oral presentation: Transformative experiential learning. Co-constructing our understanding. 2024
  • Participating in a conference, workshop, ...: The Future of the Victorian Prison Estate 2024
  • Participating in a conference, workshop, ...: Interpreting criminal law in its historical context: the case of infanticide. 2023
  • Oral presentation: J T Hoyle : a 19th-century coroner | ouseburn talks 2023 2023
  • Oral presentation: Tales from Newcastle Gaol 1828-1925 2023
  • Participating in a conference, workshop, ...: Fantasy Legal Exhibitions 2023
  • Organising a conference, workshop, ...: Through a Legal Lens: Law, History and Visual Culture 2022
  • Invited talk: 'The Greatest Man in Newcastle': John Theodore Hoyle, Coroner 1857 -1885 2022
  • Oral presentation: The Ghosts of Newcastle Gaol: Visualising a Lost Victorian Prison 2022
  • Invited talk: The Ghosts of Newcastle Gaol: Visualising a Lost Victorian Prison 2022

Gustavo Romano-Jackson Individual inefficiencies and collective losses: how companies are preparing an ageing population for retirement and post-retirement careers, and how laws can distribute and mitigate costs Start Date: 06/05/2021

I am an Associate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society; a member of the Seldon Society, the Society of Legal Scholars, the Social History Society, the Centre for Nineteenth Century Studies, the British Association for Victorian Studies and Newcastle upon Tyne Law Society.

I was co-convenor of the Law and Humanities Research Interest Group.

This is now part of the Law and Society Research group.

I carried out research for the TwentyTwenty/BBC TV programme A House Through Time for both the Newcastle and the Leeds episodes.

I am an external examiner at St Mary's University and York St John University.

I co-convened the International Seminar Series (organised jointly with the Max Planck Institute for Legal History, Leeds Beckett University and York University- supported by the SLS) Through a Legal Lens- Law, History and Visual Culture. 26 May to 23 June 2022.  Full details: Through a Legal Lens

I am a researcher for the Newcastle Gaol Project (led by Dr Shane McCorristine of Newcastle University). The project includes a website, a public exhibition and public lectures. A book is planned for 2025.

  • Law PhD
  • History MA
  • Law DipHE
  • LLB (Hons)
  • Associate Fellow Royal Historical Society
  • Fellow Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • Fellow Society for Education and Training (FSET)
  • Qualified Teacher Learning & Skills (QTLS)
  • Solicitor (Non-Practising) Roll of Solicitors

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