England & Wales, Crime, Prisons and Punishment
To celebrate the release of over 1.9 million new additions to our England and Wales, Crime, Prisons and Punishment records, this week's Findmypast Friday highlights some of the fascinating record sets that are now available to search within the collection.
England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935, contains the details of felons who passed through the criminal justice system in England and Wales between 1770 and 1935. The records reveal the exact nature of the crimes they committed, where and when they were tried and the sentence they received. Records can also include physical descriptions, petitions for clemency, reports on behaviour, health and education and photographic mug shots. The details of victims and government officials working within the penal system can also found within the collection.
The new additions are taken from 18 substantial and widely varied record series held by The National Archives at Kew. We will be highlighting a selection of these sets each Findmypast Friday for the duration of our Crime & Punishment month: four weeks of records, guides and stories to help you discover your family’s criminal history. Please note that all 18 sets within the collection are now available to search. The third and final phase of the collection will be released later this year.
England & Wales, Crime, Prisons and Punishment now contains over 3 million transcripts, all accompanied by scanned images of the original documents, and is the largest collection of crime and punishment records available online.
Home Office: Newgate Prison Calendar 1782-1853
The Home Office: Newgate Prison Calendar 1782-1853 contains almost 339,400 records. The Calendars were taken from printed lists of prisoners to be tried at Newgate, in London. Newgate was one of the historic seven gates of the London Wall around the City of London and has been used as a prison for debtors and felons since at least the 12th century. As well as printed lists of inmates, from July 1822 onwards the records contain manuscript additions giving the results of their trials.
Home Office: Convict Hulks, Convict Prisons and Criminal Lunatic Asylums: Quarterly Returns of Prisoners 1824-1876
Quarterly Returns of Prisoners 1824-1876 contains almost 639,600 records. The records consist of sworn lists of convicts held on board prison hulks between 1824 and 1854 as well as records of prisoners held in convict prisons and criminal lunatic asylums. The returns list the names of individual convicts with particulars as to their ages, convictions and sentences, health and behaviour.
Home Office: Criminal Entry Books 1782-1871
The Home Office: Criminal Entry Books 1782-1871 contain almost 272,950 records consisting of bound copies of letters sent out from the Home Office. They consist of correspondence and warrants of Home Office officials, and friends and relations of convicts. Warrants include pardons, reprieves and transfers of prisoners from one prison to another, or to the army or navy. Each volume also contains an index arranged by type of warrant issued.
Home Office: Old Captions and Transfer Papers 1843-1871
Home Office: Old Captions and Transfer Papers 1843-1871 contains over 3,660. The records contain copies of court orders (‘old captions’) for the imprisonment or transportation of prisoners. These are the papers written up by the trial judge and handed to the policemen who were to take the prisoner away to jail after he was convicted. All the paperwork involved in transferring prisoners is here, with individual documents for transfer between prisons and the records for that prisoner while he was in the gaol. There is a huge amount of detail in these records and it is worth browsing through all the available images to find all the separate documents concerning an individual prisoner. The later records even include a full medical history which is extremely unusual in genealogical records. There are also some records concerning prisoners serving their sentence on prison hulks.
Home Office and Prison Commission: Male Licences 1853-1887
Home Office and Prison Commission: Male Licences 1853-1887 contains almost 36,700 records of male convicts who were granted licences to be at large by the court, in other words, who were allowed out on parole. There are notes of the licences and also notes of revocation of the licence, under the Penal Servitude Acts of 1852 and 1864 endorsed on old captions, or orders of court, and, in some cases, transfer papers. The images include rich details about individual convicts such if their marital status, number of children, the name and address of their next of kin, their profession and a full physical description as well as where they went when they were released. Many records include photographic mug shots located on the last page.
Metropolitan Police: Criminal Record Office: habitual criminals' registers and miscellaneous papers
Containing the details of over 151,330 individuals, the Metropolitan Police: Criminal Record Office: habitual criminals' registers and miscellaneous papers consists of registers of habitual criminals kept by the police and circulated among the force on a regular basis. They include a detailed physical description noting all distinguishing marks and a full criminal record with notes on whether the convict had been apprehended. Some records are from the Police Gazette appendix which included photographs of some of the prisoners. Also included is a list of 5,824 habitual drunkards from the period 1903 to 1914, which would have been circulated weekly to licensed persons and secretaries of clubs. They usually contain two photographs of each drunkard: face on and profile.
Remember to check our dedicated Findmypast Fridays page every week to keep up to date with the latest new additions.