Thursday, February 21, 2013

Any Villains or Victims Lurking in Your Family History?: FindMyPast Ireland


This morning I received the following press release from Find My Past Ireland:

2.5 MILLION CRIMINAL RECORDS TO BE PUBLISHED ONLINE FOR FIRST TIME
FIND ANY VILLAINS OR VICTIMS LURKING IN YOUR FAMILY HISTORY

This is the biggest collection of historical criminal records from England and Wales being published online for the first time by family history site www.findmypast.ie  in association with The UK National Archives.

Over 2.5 million records dating from 1770-1934 will be easily searchable and provide a wide variety of colour, detail and fascinating social history, chronicling the fate of criminals ranging from fraudsters, counterfeiters, thieves and murderers and their victims. Some of the extant histories include very gruesome details.

The records contain mugshots, court documents, appeal letters, examples of early Edwardian ‘ASBOs’— bans on habitual drunks from pubs and entertainment venues. Also included are registers from the prison ‘hulk’ ships, which were used when mainland prisons were overcrowded. One such hulk, the ‘Dolphin’, housed 6,000 prisoners between 1829 and 1835.

Cliona Weldon, General Manager at findmypast.ie, says:

"These records provide anyone with roots in the UK an amazing chance to trace criminals and their victims in their family. They feature incredible descriptions of criminals’ appearances, demeanour and identifying marks, giving you a real insight to who each person was. The British newspaper articles also available on findmypast.ie show how the crimes were reported in the press of the day — which supplements the criminal records and makes searching through them as enjoyable as it is easy, as you cross-reference one against the other."

Paul Carter, Principle Modern Domestic records specialist at The UK National Archives, adds:

"These records span several government series and show the evolution of the criminal justice system in the nineteenth century as the country dealt with the impact of industrialisation, urbanisation and population growth.

They record the intimate details of hundreds of thousands of people, beginning with judges’ recommendations for or against pardons, to petitions through which criminals and their families could offer mitigating circumstances and grounds for mercy, and later, licences containing everything from previous convictions to the state of a prisoner’s health.

As well as the Georgian highway robber, the Victorian murderer and the Edwardian thief, the courts often dealt with the rural poacher, the unemployed petty food thief or the early trade unionist or Chartist. The records are a fascinating source for family, local and social historians."

The information in the records comes from a variety of UK Government departments including the Home Office, Prison Commission, Metropolitan Police, Central Criminal Court and the Admiralty. The records from 1817-1931 will be published first followed by the period 1770-1934 in the coming months.

The Crime, Prisons and Punishment records are available on findmypast.ie as part of a Britain & Ireland  subscription or a World subscription. They are also available online at findmypast.co.uk, findmypast.com and findmypast.com.au.

It all sounds very exciting.  So...if you have any villains or victims in your family tree, you may want to stop by and have a search.


8 comments:

  1. That's interesting news. I wonder if any of our relatives will be listed. I'm not sure I want to find out!
    Thanks for the info, though.
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Nancy,

      Thanks very much for your comments. I know what you mean. There may be lots of skeletons shaking in the closets of many family historians just about now. :):)

      Cheers to you,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  2. Yes Its going to be a fascinating resource (I,ve registered already)Although 50% of my (Polish) criminal ancestors should remain undetected!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tony,

      Thanks for your comments. Wow, 50%? Should we be worried? :):)

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  3. Have you found any villains yet Jenn? I'm very tempted to join.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Charlotte,

    Thanks for your comments. Unfortunately (or fortunately), we have no villains in the family, none who are criminally villainous anyway. We do have ancestors and relatives who were political prisoners — definitely villains in the eyes of the crown — but no robbers, murderers or arsonists.

    Cheers,
    Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
  5. One thing about Australia is that we often know who our earliest villains or victims are, thanks to the convict system;-) I've got a couple of known ones to look at -but not my law-abiding (generally) family. Will be interesting to see if any new ones come up. Cheers Pauleen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pauleen,

      Thanks for your comments. At NAI I viewed some records for transportation of convicts to Australia and found them fascinating, particularly the sentences some of them received. As you know, quite shocking by today's standards. This makes me sound as though I wish I had ancestors in the convict system. It's just that it's so very interesting.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete

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Cheers, Jennifer

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