Family history Web site Ancestry.co.uk now has records of more than 67,000 Victorian-era criminals, involved in crimes from petty theft to drunkenness and murder. Interestingly, the list also contains names of peacemakers, jury candidates and militia members.
The Dorset, England Prison Admission and Discharge Registers 1782-1901 and Dorset, England, Calendar of Prisoners 1854-1904 also include mug shots of 19th century criminals. In addition, it reveals interesting aspects of the time - including names, places and dates of conviction, sentences, physical descriptions and details of previous crimes.
For example, in 1858, a labourer named James Seal was sentenced to be hanged for murder, while in 1872 Charles Wood, an unemployed drunk, was sentenced to one month in prison for refusing to quit the beer-house. Samuel Baker, a 73 year old, was sentenced to nine months hard labour after breaking into a house to steal two brushes, some vests and a pair of stockings in 1893. George Pill, 18, was punished for six weeks hard labour, for stealing a donkey from a neighbour in 1894.
Using these details, many can trace their ancestral link which disappeared with time.
"The fact that these records feature photographs as well as physical descriptions means anyone with an ancestor in the collection will find out a great deal about them, whilst others can uncover compelling information about forgotten members of society who were down on their luck," Miriam Silverman, the site's content manager told the Daily Mail, adding, "Records such as these that pre-date civil registration also allow researchers to delve deeper into our past than other historical records allow, unlocking the opportunity to find out more about some of Britain's lesser-known characters - including these roguish criminals."
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