23 March 2007

UK: Old Bailey court records online

I've learned that the Old Bailey Proceedings from 1674-1834 have been scanned, retyped, rechecked and placed online. Even better, they are fully searchable and free. Click here to search. Thanks to Dick Plotz for this information.

The records are in text - a thumbnail of the page is also there. The project is ongoing -- records through 1913 will eventually be added. Today's data contains 101,102 trials, and an additional 100,000 trials (from 1834-1913) will be added by September 2008.

The Proceedings was a periodical. It was published each time the court was in session (eight times a year) for 160 years. The name changed in 1834, but publication continued until 1913.

For very interesting information on the history of the records, click here.

This database, says Plotz, is highly relevant to British Jewish genealogy, as its entries start shortly after the readmission of Jews to England by Cromwell and will run through the Victorian period. His search for Cohen yielded 200 hits and, for Levy, 377. I know of at least one Israeli researcher who discovered the name of relative through the database -- a great-great-great-granduncle cited in an 1833 record.

You can search by keyword, name, date, place and map, crime, verdict and punishment, and other criteria.

A search for "Jew" or "Jewish" turns up more than a thousand references.

It appears, according to the database, that some members of the tribe were sent to American colonies such as Maryland as a sentence for various crimes. While the transport of Jewish prisoners to Australia is relatively well know, the American destination doesn't seem to have been nearly as thoroughly explored by scholars.

Of specific interest to researchers of Jewish families is the community page, which provides search strategies. Topics include Sephardi, Ashkenazi, legal context, bibliographies and more.

One example:

Solomon Spring, William Bartholomew, Samuel Bushel, theft: burglary, 22 Feb 1688.
... Solomon Spring, William Bartholomew, and Samuel Bushel, all of the Parish of Hornsey, were Indicted for Breaking open the House of Seigniour Alvaro de Costo a Jew, on the 20th. of January last, at One of the Clock in the Night, and stealing thence three Holland Shirts ...

For additional examples from the Old Bailey Records, read here . And to read about Jewish Lawmen of London, click here . Thanks to Ann Rabinowitz for these links.

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