We recently added over 67,000 prisoner records and mug-shots of Victorian criminals with the Dorset, England Prison Admission and Discharge Registers 1782-1901 and Dorset, England, Calendar of Prisoners, 1854-1904.
These records provide a vivid glimpse into the world of Victorian crime with the prisoners included convicted for a variety of offences.
Those convicted of minor crimes such as petty theft and drunkenness were forced to face the wrath of the Victorian judicial service - crimes which today would likely receive a far lesser sentence. Examples include -
- Samuel Baker – aged 73, Samuel Baker 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.
- Charles Wood – this unemployed local drunk was sentenced to one month in prison for ‘refusing to quit the beer-house’, in 1872.
- George Pill (shown above)– aged just 18, soldier George Pill stole a donkey from neighbour in 1894, resulting in a punishment of six weeks’ hard labour.
Examples of dangerous criminals in the records guilty of crimes such as arson and murder include:
- James Seal – in 1858, labourer James Seal was found guilty of the wilful murder of Sarah Ann Guppy. He received the death penalty for his crime, and was sentenced to be hanged.
- William Parsons (shown above)– this labourer was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 1891 for committing arson, after he ‘maliciously and feloniously’ set fire to a neighbour’s barn.
These records are of particular value to family historians as they pre-date Civil Registration so you can delve deeper into the past than other historical records allow.
Let us know if you uncover a convict ancestor on our Facebook wall!