In a historical vein today, I wanted to tell you about a way to discover English criminal law through the ages. Fascinating.
The Old Bailey Proceedings Online makes available a fully searchable, digitised collection of all surviving editions of the proceedings of the Central Criminal Court in London, known as the Old Bailey, from 1674 to 1913, and of the Ordinary of Newgate’s Accounts (accounts of prisoners’ last speeches) between 1676 and 1772. It allows access to over 197,000 trials and biographical details of approximately 2,500 men and women executed at Tyburn, free of charge for non-commercial use.
In addition to the text, accessible through both keyword and structured searching, the website provides digital images, advice on methods of searching the resource, information on the historical and legal background to the Old Bailey court and its Proceedings, and descriptions of published and manuscript materials relating to the trials covered. Contemporary maps, and images have also been provided. The website is published by the Humanities Research Institute.
Here is an example of a little nugget I enjoyed – the man with seventeen wives (yes – 17!). “Amongst which we must reckon the trial of that much talkt of person charged by common Fame with having Seventeen Wives, though to do him Right it must be acknowledged that he was Indicted only for four, and being Arraigned upon the first…” Click here to see the full record.