Murderous Madam and the Policeman

George Le Cronier's Memorial, Green Street, St.Helier.

I’ve been having a look at the S&N newsletter, that popped into my email box at the end of the week.

What caught my eye was a fascinating Victorian murder story that took place in the St Helier streets quite local to where I live. I’ve come across it before in the book The Policeman and the Brothel by Theodore Dalrymple, but this is the first time that I’ve seen it written from the family history records point of view!

It was fascinating to see the Illustrated London News report from March 7th 1846; the census records, with the tell tale blanks for the occupations of the young  prostitutes, and the criminal records showing the killer was transported for life to Van Diemens land. Also to be seen is the huge monument for the murdered policeman in Green Street cemetery, a picture of which can be searched for in TheGenealogist’s growing Volunteer Headstone Database that now includes many Jersey burials.

 

The newsletter isn’t just about this story. They begin with a look at what will be coming online from their group throughout 2015:

Parish Records, detailed County and Tithe Maps, millions of new Medals Records, more Grave Memorials from the Volunteer Headstone Project, records of Railway Workers from Pensions to Staff Movements, Jewish records, detailed Street Maps, Passenger Lists, Emigration Records and more War Memorials are all going online at TheGenealogist this year.

And then we hear that this month they’ve released more War Memorials, Parish Records and have now added the 1911 census for all Starter and Gold Subscribers! You can make the most of this with £30 cash back on an Annual Gold Subscription, making it just £48.95 for the first year!

There’s no better way, they suggest, to start the new year than with some special offers – you can claim £50 cashback on a Diamond Subscription to TheGenealogist, and save £££s in their New Year Sale over at S&N Genealogy Supplies. The news letter also takes a look at 2014 in a review.

Finally, there is that interesting article I’ve already drawn you attention to above about Ancestors that fell foul of the law. As the S&N team write in the email, these are always fascinating subjects for family history research and I would say none more than a Victorian murder story of a notorious Madam who escaped the hangman’s noose!

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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Black Sheep in the Family Tree

 

Hangman's noose
Hangman’s noose

Finding a criminal in our past family can embarrass some of us, while others are simply tickled pink to think they are descended from a rogue or two. This is especially true when the criminal ancestors are a few generations back and so not too frighteningly near.

One of the problems, for the family historian, is that any black sheep in our family were probably not too keen on giving their true name when apprehended. So when searching for them on census night they may be frustratingly missing, unless they are locked up by courtesy of His or Her Majesty in one of the crown’s prisons.

Census records for Wormwood Scrubs, Parkhurst, Pentonville, Strangeways and Dartmoor are available in the normal census collections at Ancestry,   Findmypast   and  TheGenealogist.

You may also come across the census records for the county gaol, such as the one in Exeter for the County of Devon.

I was looking this week at some of the online resources for criminal records such as the England and Wales Criminal Registers 1791-1892 at Ancestry.co.uk. These register books include a brief bit of information from the Quarter Session Trials.

I didn’t manage to identify an ancestor but I got drawn into wondering about the story of a person with my surname from my ancestor’s county who in 1834 at the age of 43 was sentenced to be transported for 7 years for larceny.

 

And then there was one Janus Majaval, aged 22 and sentenced to death along with several others at the Devon County Assizes on the 19th July 1845. All the condemned men carried Iberian sounding names and their crime was Murder on the High Seas.

 

Find your ancestors today with a FREE 14 day trial to Ancestry.co.uk – Click here!

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Find Any Villains Or Victims Lurking In Your Family History

I got a Press Release today from Find My Past that I find really interesting.

Its about a new set of criminal records they are publishing on their site and I wanted to share this with you as soon as possible!

findmypast search

2.5 MILLION CRIMINAL RECORDS TO BE PUBLISHED ONLINE FOR FIRST TIME

FIND ANY VILLAINS OR VICTIMS LURKING IN YOUR FAMILY HISTORY

The biggest collection of historical criminal records from England and Wales is being published online for the first time by leading family history site www.findmypast.co.uk in association with The 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.

They contain mugshots, court documents, appeal letters, examples of early Edwardian ‘ASBOs’- where habitual drunks were banned from pubs and entertainment venues –and 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.

There are details of Victorian serial killers including Amelia Dyer, who, between 1880 and 1896, is believed to have murdered 400 babies by strangling them with ribbon and dumping them in the Thames. She was hanged at Newgate Prison in 1896 aged 57.

Another particularly gruesome murderer who appears in the Crime, Prisons and Punishment records is Catherine Webster, who killed widow Julia Martha Thomas, 55. She pushed her down the stairs, then strangled her, chopped up her body and boiled it. Julia’s head was found in David Attenborough’s garden in 2010.

Debra Chatfield, a family historian at findmypast.co.uk , said: “We have been eagerly anticipating the launch of these records that provide an amazing opportunity to trace any villains and victims in your own family.

“We have painstakingly published online entire registers containing mugshots of habitual drunks that feature incredible descriptions of criminals’ appearances, demeanour and identifying marks.

“The newspaper articles that are available on findmypast.co.uk provide unparalleled detail and show how the crimes were reported when they were committed. This supplements the new criminal records and makes searching through as enjoyable as it is easy, whether you are researching your own family history or are interested in social history.”

Paul Carter, Principle Modern Domestic records specialist at The National Archives added: “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 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 will also be available online at findmypast.ie, findmypast.com and findmypast.com.au as part of a World subscription.

Take a look now at this link:

Find My Past


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Ripping Yarn for Family historians!

Its the start of December, Christmas cards to write, presents to buy, parties to go to and work seems to step up a gear as the aim of selling other people stuff as Christmas gifts that they can give becomes important and what happens?

The common cold comes a knocking. And I don’t just mean a sniffle and a weak cough but a real kick in the back ache, fuzzy head and coughing and sneezing until it physically hurts.

The solution is, of course, to retire to the warm of your bed and feel sorry for yourself for a while. When this wears off, but you are still not well enough to venture out and too tired to do any meaningful work, then a good book can pass the time.

Over the last week I have been reading just such an offering from the pen of  Steve Robinson. Its a Genealogical Crime Mystery and I have to say I am finding it riveting.

“Family history was never supposed to be like this… When American genealogist, Jefferson Tayte, accepted his latest assignment, he had no idea it might kill him. But while murder was never part of the curriculum, he is kidding himself if he thinks he can walk away from this one.

Driven by the all-consuming irony of being a genealogist who doesn’t know who his own parents are, Tayte soon finds that the assignment shares a stark similarity to his own struggle. Someone has gone to great lengths to erase an entire family bloodline from recorded history and he’s not going home until he’s found out why. After all, if he’s not good enough to find this family, how can he ever expect to be good enough to someday find his own?

 

Set in Cornwall, England, past and present, Tayte’s research centres around the tragic life of a young Cornish girl, a writing box, and the discovery of a dark family secret that he believes will lead him to the family he is looking for. Trouble is, someone else is looking for the same answers and they will stop at nothing to find them.

I highly recommend this book, even if you are feeling hail and hearty. It is pacey and filled with references that family historians will recognise.

I’m reading mine on my Kindle Fire HD, but physical editions are available as well.

Disclosure: The above links are affiliate links. I may be compensated by Amazon should you decide to purchase these items from them.

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Ancestry.co.uk publishes prison ‘hulks’ records online.

A first for Ancestry.co.uk (Link is a compensated affiliate link) is their newly published “Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books, 1802-1849″  This record set contains the incarceration records of nearly 200,000 people locked up in giant floating jails known as prison hulks.

The convicts’ records that are physically stored away in The National Archives in Kew, provide us with a fascinating insight into the Victorian criminal underworld and conditions aboard the Dickensian ships, which were created to ease overcrowded prisons.

Prison Hulks became an all to common place means to intern criminals during the 18th century. This was a time when many warships, previously used in naval conflicts were being decommissioned and then converted into huge floating prisons. Some of the ships that feature in this fascinating collection include HMS Bellerophon that saw action during the Napoleonic Wars, HMS Retribution, from the American Revolutionary War and HMS Captivity, a veteran of the French Revolutionary Wars.

The records Ancestry have put online, can show you who were imprisoned on these hulks and detail each inmate’s name, year of birth, age, year and place of conviction, offence committed, name of the hulk and, somewhat fascinatingly, character reports written by the ‘gaoler’ that provides an intriguing insight into the personality of each convict.

A an example, the entry for one Thomas Bones recalls that he was ‘a bold daring fellow, not fit to be at large in this country’, while the record for George Boardman explains ‘this youth has been neglected by his parents and been connected with bad company’. William Barton’s record simply reads ‘very bad, three times convicted’.

As well as featuring murderers, thieves and bigamists, the records also reveal examples of rough justice. Several eight-year-old boys were imprisoned on the hulks, as was 84-year-old William Davies, who was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for sheep stealing and later died on board the hulk HMS Justitia.

Ancestry.co.uk for prison hulks records
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