Monday, July 20, 2009

The Old Bailey

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913 is a fully searchable on-line edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court.

The Old Bailey, also known as Justice Hall, the Sessions House, and the Central Criminal Court, was named after the street in which it was located, just off Newgate Street and next to Newgate Prison, in the western part of the City of London. Over the centuries the building has been periodically remodelled and rebuilt in ways which both reflected and influenced the changing ways trials were carried out and reported.

This site also includes historical background covering policing, crimes tried, trial procedures, judges and juries, trial verdicts, and punishments. It provides important information to help the researcher understand proceedings, especially in the case of punishments. Defendants could be given more than one punishment, and the actual punishment a convict received often differed from that specified at their trial. It is worth searching later sessions by the name of the defendant using the “Personal Details” search page to see if the sentence was mitigated.

Because the actual punishment a convict received often differed from that specified at their trial, It is also possible to search separately for information about pardons or executions. Although this information was not consistently reported in the Proceedings, there are regular reports of pardons from 1739 until 1796 and of executions from 1743 until 1792. Additional evidence about whether (and how) punishments were carried out can be found within the Associated Records.

Note on Punishments: A large number of eighteenth-century statutes specified death as the penalty for minor property offences (the "bloody code"), meaning that the vast majority of the people tried at the Old Bailey could be sentenced to hang (one could be executed for stealing a handkerchief or a sheep). Nevertheless, judicial procedures prevented a blood bath by ensuring that sentences could be mitigated, or the charge redefined as a less serious offence.

Through partial verdicts, juries reduced the charges against many convicted defendants. Through the mechanisms of benefit of clergy and pardons many more defendants found guilty of a capital offence were spared the death penalty and sentenced instead to punishments such as branding, transportation, or imprisonment. Many received no punishment at all.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, July 19, 2009

National Archives of Ireland

Researching your Irish Ancestry can be notoriously difficult, but the National Archives of Ireland holds a wealth of information, searchable on-line.
Unfortunately almost all the records acquired by the Public Record Office of Ireland before 1922 were destroyed by fire and explosion at the beginning of the Civil War in June 1922 and as a result, the material now held by the National Archives dates mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries, although there are a few surviving court and exchequer rolls dating to the early 14th century.
However they are still well worth visiting, as they also provide excellent guides to searching the archives and researching Irish family history
Some of the most frequently consulted archives:
Archives acquired from private sources
Census 1901
Census 1911
Chancery pleadings
Chief Secretary's Office Registered Papers
Church of Ireland parish registers
Convict Reference Files
Coroners' inquests
Dáil Éireann records
Departmental records
Famine Relief Commission records relating to the Famine
Ferguson manuscripts
Genealogical abstracts (Betham, Crosslé, Tenison Groves, Grove-White and Thrift)
General Prisons Board
Incumbered and Landed Estates Court rentals
Irish Record Commission calendars
Lodge's manuscripts
National School applications, registers and files (pre-1922)
Office of Public Works
Official Papers
Ordnance Survey
Outrage Reports
Probate records
Quit Rent Office
Rebellion Papers
Society of Friends Famine Papers
State of the Country Papers
Trade Union archives
Valuation Office and Boundary Survey records
Will books and grant books

Labels: , , ,

York Assizes

York Reference Library has an on-line index to records of prisoners brought to trial at York Assizes 1785-1851.
The Library's records give quite a lot of detail and, in most cases, there are also the results of the trials. Some of these are published on this website. For those not published York Library offer a look-up service and you can contact them at
This index of over 8,000 names has been divided into alphabetical sections, as follows:
A - B; C - D; E - F; G - I; J - L; M - P; Q - S; T - V; W - Y

Records include ID number, Surname, Forename, Age, Place of Origin and Date.
However, pre-July 1800, ages were not given, and after this time, place of origin was generally not given. There are occasional gaps.
This index was kindly donated to the Society, in 2003, by Conrad Plowman

Labels: , , ,

Victorian Family History

Thank God for CD-ROMS or it would cost us a fortune to look up Victorian Births, Deaths and Marriages on-line. The Victorian BDM charge 99cents to view a page. This could add up to quite a bit if you are researching your Victorian Ancestors. Luckily Manly Library holds
Death Index, Victoria 1921 – 1985
Edwardian Index, Victoria 1902 – 1913
Federation Index, Victoria 1889 -1901
Marriage Index, Victoria 1921 - 1942
Great War Index, Victoria 1914- 1920 is not available The Victorian Registry of BDMs have taken the decision to cease supply.
On the other hand congratulations to Public Records Office of Victoria, who provide not only great indexing, but also a good selection of digital copies on-line.

Labels: , , ,

Price Rise

The cost of getting birth, death or marriage certificates from the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages increased at the 1st July 2009, and it will now take 8 weeks before you receive them in the mail.
Family History Certificates for
• Births 100 years or more after the event
• Deaths 30 years or more after the event
• Marriages 50 years or more after the event
With registration number are $28.00 Standard or $49.00 Urgent
Without registration number are $37.00 Standard or $58.00 Urgent
Additional search for 10 years or part thereof is$38.00

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More to See in Ancestry

More records have been added to the Ancestry Database during May & June, which will be of interest to Australian researchers.
In particular:
New South Wales, Australia, Registers of Convicts' Applications to Marry, 1826-1851 – Updated
New South Wales, Australia, Convict Death Register, 1826-1879 - Updated
New South Wales, Australia Historical Electoral Rolls, 1842-1864 – Updated
1841 New South Wales, Australia, Census – Updated
1828 New South Wales, Australia Census (Australian Copy) – Updated
New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922 – Updated
New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896 – Updated
New South Wales, Australia Convict Ship Muster Rolls and Related Records, 1790-1849 – Updated
New South Wales, Australia, Certificates of Naturalization, 1849-1903 – Updated
The Cyclopedia of Western Australia, Vol. 1 & 2
Australia and New Zealand Obituary Collection - Updated
London, England, Poor Law Records, 1834-1940 - Updated
Principal Women of The Empire: Australia and New Zealand, Vol. 1
British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 - Updated
You can use the Ancestry database free of charge in the Library – just ring 9976 1743 to make an appointment.