London: Various, . First editions bound with Third edition. Sammelband in contemporary quarter calf over marbled boards, with gilt to spine. Some chipping to leather and shelfwear to boards. Pastedowns renewed and hinges strengthened. Faint marginal dampstaining to first two pamphlets, but overall a clean copy. Containing a first edition of the account of the libel charges against Tocker and her response to them, bound with a third edition containing observations on the trial and a first edition of Tocker's self-vindication after being found innocent. Exceptionally scarce individually, the present is the only known sammelband to contain the following works, which are not elsewhere available on the market:
Tocker, Miss Mary Ann. The Trial of Mary Ann Tocker, For an Alleged Libel, On Mr. Gurney, Vice-Warden...With the Defence Verbatim as Delivered by the Defendent. London: Printed & Published at the Request and for the Benefit of Miss Tocker by Henry White, 1818. First edition, collating complete including frontis: , viii, 9-40. Of the 8 copies reported by OCLC, none are in North America.
The Prosecutor. Observations on a Libel; For Which an Indictment was Instituted by Richard Gurney, Esq....Against Miss Mary Ann Tocker; Of Which the Defendent was Found Not Guilty. London: Effingham Wilson, . Third edition collating complete: , 84. OCLC reports no institutional copies of the present edition, which expands on the similarly scarce first and second editions.
[Tocker, Mary Ann]. Reply of Mary Ann Tocker, To the False and Scurilous Pamphlet of Mr. R. Gurney, Ex-Vice-Warden of Devon; Comprising the Private Correspondence...London:Henry White, . First edition collating complete: , 6-45, [1, blank]. OCLC reports only 4 institutional copies, with 2 of these in the U.S.
Together, these rare works trace the arc of Mary Ann Tocker's rise to become the first woman to represent herself in British court -- taking on a corrupt official and proving her own innocence against his retaliatory libel charges. "Mary Ann Tocker successfully defended herself in the libel case by invoking constitutionalist language and the principles of English liberty" at a time when "courtrooms were undoubtedly gendered spaces"; and she became an example of "the ways women could circumvent and contest the unequal power relations implicit in the nineteenth century legal process" (Parolin). When Richard Gurney, placed in a lucrative post by his influential father, ran up staggering debts against the Tocker family with whom he was boarding, he fled to the Continent to avoid making settlement. Their eldest daughter Mary Ann, inspired by her own father's work as an attorney, printed in a newspaper a letter exposing Gurney's corruption both as an individual and in his position as Vice-Warden. Enraged, Gurney charged her with "committing a most serious offence, in slandering the character of a gentleman in high judicial situation, by imputing to him practices of greatest criminality, in a letter published." With the support of her family, Tocker would successfully and convincingly argue her corner with the use of evidence and logic; rather than falling back on gendered stereotypes of innocent femininity, she drew on the Constitution, as well as legal philosophers Locke and Blackstone.
Tocker's self-advocacy continued after her favorable verdict, as Gurney began a pamphlet war in an attempt to win over the court of public opinion. Responding to him, Tocker raised her public profile as well as raising funds to support herself and her family. She authored, published, and sold the two pamphlets that bookend the present collection. These allow readers not only first-hand access to the transcripts and evidence as presented; they also preserve Tocker's own thoughts on the events before and after the trial. (Item #4160)