Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Old Bailey Online

The complete records of London's main criminal court from the years 1674-1913 are now online. You can learn a lot about daily life from thousands of cases like this:
Lawrence Simpson , of the Parish ofSt. Sepulchres, was indicted for privately stealing a Hat and Wig, value 20 s. from the Person of Christopher Longwood the 25th of May last. The Prosecutor depos'd, that as he was going down Cow-Lane , about Eleven a-Clock at Night, he stopp'd to make Water. and his Hat and Wig were snatch'd off from his Head, he turn'd and saw the Prisoner running, he pursu'd the Prisoner, and saw him throw it into the Sheep pens, but he overtook him, and apprehended him. Nehemiah Richardson confirm'd the former Evidence, and that the Hat and Wig were found in the Sheep-pens, where the Prisoner had thrown them. The Prisoner deny'd the Fact, and call'd a great many to his Reputation, who gave him a good Character. The Jury acquitted him.
This is one of the first settlers in western Maryland, who shows up along the Potomac near Antietam in 1736:
James Spurgin was indicted for Felony and Burglary in breaking open the House of Mary Fletcher, and taking thence a Camblet Coat 2 pair of Plush Breeches 23 Coats and Waistcoats,&c. The Prosecutor deposed that between 4 and 5 in the Morning a Man came and knockt at her Door, and ask'd if she had lost any Goods, whereupon she went with him to the Watch-house, (where the prisoner was and had the Coat and a pair of Breeches on him) and own'd her Goods. There being no proof of the Burglary the Jury acquitted him of that, and brought him in Guilty of Felony only, Transportation.
There doesn't seem to be any mechanism within their search engine for checking variant spellings of names, so you'll have to do that yourself.

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