Crime and Punishment
Welcome to our Crime and Punishment hub, where we delve into the seedy underbelly of family history. Our crime, prisons and punishment records now number over 5.5 million, giving you the chance to discover the law makers and breakers that live in infamy in your family tree.
Welcome to week 4: Release, Redemption Or Repeat?
This week we’ll be focusing on rehabilitation, release and recidivism as we look at what happened to your ancestors if they were transported, how they might have described their travails once they were out of the slammer (signalling the birth of a new form of street slang), and sifting through the historical newspaper collection to see whose criminal ancestor’s reputation was infamous enough to merit inches of print.
You can read about those who were too impatient to wait for their release in our blog about great prison escapes, find out about William Calcraft, the man who hanged 450 and see how you'd fare as a Victorian judge as you dole out sentences to real-life Victorian criminals.
Explore our millions of crime, prisons and punishment records to discover the jailbirds in your family tree.
The Illustrated Police News was one of the wonderfully macabre and gothic 'Penny Dreadfuls' which proliferated in Victorian Britain. Its often beautiful illustrations tell the stories of all kinds of criminality, from the petty to the bizarre. Explore a world of Victorian crime today.
The use of ships as floating prisons wasn’t a new concept in 1776 when the British government established the Thames prison fleet, where thousands of prisoners over the coming decades to hard labour and squalid conditions as they served their sentence or awaited transportation.
How would you fare as a Victorian judge?
How do you think you'd fare as a judge in Victorian Britain? Would you be tough on crime or would the criminals have their fingers crossed that you'd be in charge of sentencing?
Now's your chance to find out what kind of judge you'd be with the Findmypast Be The Judge quiz! From arson to larceny, you decide on the punishment.
Take the quiz and preside over the sentencing of real-life Victorian criminals.
Irish research can be difficult, but Ireland is fortunate to have a fabulous collection of court records that can really illuminate your family history. Findmypast exclusively has over 22 million court records and 3 million prison records. There are tales of crime, heart breaking stories of destitution and the persistence of sedition and rebellion. In this webinar, Irish family history expert Brian Donovan takes you through your Irish ancestors and the law
Do you feel as though modern criminals get an easy ride in the courts? Do you pine for the days of the pillory? If you’d like to see a return to the ‘glory days’ of petty treason and transportation, take our quiz and you can preside over the sentencing of real-life Victorian criminals.
In this video, Findmypast's criminal history expert Abigail Rieley takes you through the millions of recently added crime, prisons and punishment records, helping you to explore these collections and discover the jailbirds in your family tree.
Read how a member of the Findmypast team discovered 24 criminals in his family tree, including three brothers who tried - and failed - to live above the law.
In the 18th century, powerful street gangs began to emerge in cities across the country and violent turf wars erupted as they sough to carve out their territories. Evidence of these gangs and the various criminal activities of their members can be found within our collection of historic British newspapers and England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment records.
New additions to our records: Findmypast Fridays
Each week, we add brand new records to our collections at no additional cost to our users, allowing them the opportunity to continue building a brilliant family tree.
This week’s Findmypast Friday sees the addition of even more illuminating Crime and Punishment-related collections, in addition to updates to our Anglo-Boer War update and Newspaper Collection.
Our incredibly detailed new prison records can shed light on a convict’s life with details which go far beyond their identity and sentence. Pore over photograph albums and trial calendars, and delve into journals from governors, chaplains and surgeons….
Visit our website today to explore these new records.
One of the most infamous hangmen of the 18th century was William Calcraft. Calcraft was perhaps the most active and longest serving executioner in British history. It is believed that he may have personally dispatched as many as 450 felons over the course of his 45 year career.
There are so many amazing crime, prison, and general lock-em-up-related record sets on Findmypast that we thought we owed you another batch for this week’s Off The Record. Why let those wayward ancestors get off easy, eh?
In this video, criminal history expert Abigail Rieley takes you through our newest criminal records. Discover how to navigate the extraordinary range of records, find out details of your ancestors’ offence and life in prison and even find out what they looked like. You might even find the pleas of family members looking for their release from gaol.
One school of thought about the genesis of Cockney rhyming slang was that it was a means for ne'er do wells to operate right under the bugles of the old bill without the risk of giving the game away. As this is our Crime, Prisons and Punishment month, we thought we'd put your slang to the test. Click the image and take the Findmypast Cockney rhyming slang quiz, me old chinas!
Prison Hulk Registers - a record of transportation
The use of ships as floating prisons wasn’t a new concept in 1776 when the British government established the Thames prison fleet. Prison ships had already been used in the American Revolution, and were being used concurrently in the Napoleonic War.
However, it was the decision to open three prison ships – or ‘hulks’, as they were known – on the Thames that condemned thousands of prisoners over the coming decades to hard labour and squalid conditions as they served their sentence or awaited transportation to Australia or Van Diemen’s Land.
Find out more about prison hulks and the records that tell the stories of their inmates over on our blog.