Episode 16 – Your criminal ancestors

You don’t have criminal ancestors, do you?  Surely not.  That’s what I thought, but two of my ancestors (one direct, one step) turned out to be criminals, and it makes them two of the most interesting people in my tree.

Even if you don’t think you have criminality in your heritage, you never know when those errant ancestors may turn up, so this episode is about the practicality of identifying, tracing and following those with a criminal background through your family back story.

I’ll look at records that are available on subscription sites, freely available at the National Archives, on free websites (even on the other side of the world), and how they can enhance you genealogy hobby.

We’ll meet Jesse and Ralph – two members of my family in the mid 1800s, and look at how they were caught, tried and convicted – with one of them being send half way round the world, before starting his new life ‘down under’.  We’ll talk about prisons, courts, assizes and hulk ships – and the very real differences between justice being administered today, and 150-odd years ago.

Notes for this episode:

Records on Ancestry are called England and Wales Criminal Registers 1791 to 1892 – and – UK, Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books, 1802-1849

Records on Find My Past are called  England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935

Tasmanian records are at https://libraries.tas.gov.au/family-history/Pages/Convict-life.aspx. (Those I found relevant were CON14, CON18 and CON33)

Recommended drinks to accompany this episode: Pruno – worth a Google.  But, clearly, DON’T drink it!

Recommended biscuits to accompany this episode: Tim-Tams – there is transportation to Australia in this episode, after all

Listen now

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