When a genealogist discovers a criminal way back in the family tree, he or she needs to know how to trace that person. David Hawkings here offers practical in-depth guidelines for researching these criminal ancestors, many of whom were 'obliged' to steal for mere survival and suffered imprisonment for the most trivial offences. His pioneering study includes surveys of material held by all County and Borough Record Offices, The National Archives, police archives and other repositories, as well as numerous example cases and illustrations, appendices with source material and a case history to show the extent to which one individual criminal can be researched. This unique and richly illustrated book provides the essential research and reference tool which no genealogist, social historian, criminologist or the merely curious should be without.
David Hawkings' revised edition of Criminal Ancestors provides a comprehensive account of records containing biographical references to criminals in England and Wales from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. It is a useful research tool for genealogists, social historians and criminologists and this edition includes supplementary surveys of material from the Court of King's (Queen's) Bench, the Metropolitan Police, Home Office Records, and Government reports from the Inspectors and Directors of Prisons, in addition to the original surveys of records held in County and Borough Record Offices, The National Archives, Police archives and other repositories.
This edition, published in 2008, does not address the availability of an increasing amount of information via online websites and omits any references to other published criminal indexes. Nevertheless, it provides a thorough account of paper sources, including less well-known records from, inter alia, lunatic asylums, inebriation reformatories and the quaintly named 'sheriff's cravings'.
Each chapter begins with a concise explanation of the scope of the particular institution or source concerned, followed by detailed transcripts of a wide-range of documents to be found at various repositories. However, particular problems in locating an individual criminal in records that pre-date nineteenth-century regulation is generally understated and there is little explanation as to the typicality of the documents transcribed or documentary survival rates.
The book concludes with a series of helpful appendices that provides guidance in locating an individual criminal and includes lists of records held at key repositories. For the new researcher, this book provides a detailed summary of archival sources relating to individual criminals and offers additional information relating to the physical conditions and administrative practices within the various institutions.
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