1810-1830 was a crucial period in the development of New South Wales as the legal foundations of a free-settler and emancipist society were built into the predominantly convict colony during this period. This book explores the relationship of a colonial people with English law and looks at the way in which the practice of law developed 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 is able to evoke 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 NSW. It will be an important book for readers in Australian history, women's history and legal history.