Monday we launched the fourth project keyed through the Ancestry World Archives Project. The England and Wales Criminal Registers project was a favorite amongst contributors, mainly due to the incredibly fascinating information that we were keying – although we didn’t key the offenses I am positive we all read them. And really, in what other collection would I be keying the name “Bottle of Beer” and wondering what the given and surname should be??
The England & Wales Criminal Registers, 1791-1892– taken from 279 original paper volumes held at The National Archivesin Kew – document trials and sentences for crimes ranging from petty theft and fraud to the use of bad language and scrumping (stealing apples from orchards).
Each register includes details of the crime, the full name and date of birth of the accused, the location of the trial and the judgment passed. During this period, almost two in three tried for their crimes received sentences of imprisonment and almost one in 10 were either transported overseas or sentenced to death.
In total, the England & Wales Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 documents:
900,000 sentences of imprisonment – 65% of those who went to trial during this time ended up serving a prison sentence
97,000 transportations – many criminals who received death sentences had their sentence commuted to transportation as judges became increasingly ‘lenient’
10,300 executions – including a boy aged just 14.
The collection also documents the brutal period of English history infamously known as the ‘Bloody Code’ – so called due to the large number of crimes made punishable by death as the authorities sought to deter potential offenders. Famous names in the collection include Jack the Ripper suspect Dr Neill Cream, the inept highwayman George Lyon and Queen Victoria’s ‘would be’ assassin Roderick McLean.
You never know who you might find – as Colleen was arbitrating this collection her research trained eye caught the name of her ancestor William Perrin. If you’re interested in finding out if you have jail bird ancestors click here to search the collection.
Thank you to all of the contributors who spent their time keying this project! Because of their contributions the index for this collection is freely searchable for all Ancestry users.
Anna is the Community Operations Manager for Ancestry.com. In this role her main responsibility is managing the World Archives Project. You can send an email to Anna at afechter@ancestry dot com.