What if you were expecting to find royalty, but instead found your ancestors were in trouble with the law? You can still follow them through over 5 million records of criminals who passed through the justice system in England and Wales between 1770 and 1935. You can find out where they stood trial, what sentence they were given and what their life was like in prison.
In association with The National Archives in the UK, Findmypast has released an extensive collection of records from criminal cases, gaols, hulks, prisons, and criminal calendars. England & Wales, crime, prisons & punishment, 1770-1935 is the largest single collection of British crime records online. You can explore the world of courts and prisons, and discover if your ancestor committed a criminal offence and what your ancestor’s sentence was. You can also find physical descriptions and photographs of your ancestor, whether your ancestor was executed or transported, and official correspondence about your ancestor’s case, as well as petitions sent by the accused individuals and their family and friends to have sentences reduced. This extraordinarily rich collection of records covers the justice system from the days of the Bloody Code – where most property crimes carried a death sentence – to the justice system we know today.
These are images of prisoners in Pentonville Prison, Middlesex in 1882