Despite recent interest in disability history, the period before 1800 remains relatively neglected by historians. This article uses criminal court records, an under-exploited source for historians of disability, in order to examine the meanings of impairment in eighteenth-century London.
It discusses disabled people as perpetrators and victims of crime, and examines representations of impairment in their testimonies. Meanings of impairment were not fixed and could be drawn upon strategically in stories told to the court. While disabled people often faced mistrust, trials also
provided a space for them to present their own experiences and argue disability in a public forum.