Tag Archives: criminal registers

Making the News: Wybrants KINGHORN on trial

16 Sep

Wybrants KINGHORN is one of the few black sheep in my family tree, he is my half 3x great-uncle (perhaps more meaningfully described as the son of my 3x great-grandfather Thomas KINGHORN and his first wife Alicia DALTON). On several occasions I have written about Wybrants and his appearances in the Criminal Registers on Ancestry.co.uk and his rather unusual (and gruesome) cause of death.

    I have been spending some time looking into the mail coach accident that his grandfather was involved in, making use of the 19th Century British Library Newspaper Collection, and decided that the chances of finding a mention of Wybrants KINGHORN in the newspapers ought to be quite good. I wasn’t disappointed.

I found two reports in London newspapers of Wybrant’s activities from December 1853. The first is from The Standard (Monday 5th December 1853 edition) and provides only the briefest of details. It does include the word "burglariously" though which I am finding is a real tongue-twister to say.

MALBOROUGH STREET.

BURGLARY.- Wybrants Kinghorn was brought before Mr. Hardwick, on suspicion of having been concerned in burglariously entering the premises of Mr. Evan Astley, tailor, 72, Regent-street, and stealing therefrom property to a considerable amount. -The prisoner was remanded.

The second report is from Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper (Sunday 18th December 1853 edition) and it contains much more detail, than the first one, and makes fascinating reading.

SATURDAY’S POLICE NEWS.

MALBOROUGH-STREET.

EXTENSIVE ROBBERY. -Wybrants Kinghorn, a journeyman tailor, was brought before Mr. Hardwick, for final examination, charged with stealing a quantity of doeskin cloth, the property of Mr. Evan Astley, tailor, 72½, Regent-street. -John Foster deposed that he was in the employ of the prosecutor, and that on the night of Thursday, the 1st inst., about twenty minutes to ten, he locked up the workshop in King’s Arm-yard, and at a little after six the next morning he went and found the door open, and missed several coats, pairs of trowsers, and other articles, also three pieces of doeskin cloth, altogether of the value of 50/. The three pieces of cloth now produced he believed to be the same stolen from the workshop. -Mr, Evan Astley identified the cloth as his property. -Julia Pallett stated that she resided at No. 27 Broad-street. On Friday the 2nd inst., the prisoner came to her shop and produced three pieces of cloth, and told her he had got two waistcoats to make for a party, and asked her to lend him 4s. on them till Saturday, as he was hard up. She did so, and he left the cloth, which she subsequently gave up to Police-constable Ryland. -Sergeant Godfrey 5, C, said, he took the prisoner into custody on the night of the 2nd inst. He said he had taken the cloth, but knew nothing about the other property. Silverton, 323 A, proved that in May, 1851, the prisoner was tried and convicted of felony at the Westminster sessions, and sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment. -The prisoner, who denied the charge, was fully committed for trial.

 

There is one obvious discrepancy, Wybrant’s previous trial and conviction was in 1852 not 1851, which does make me question the accuracy of the report, but considering the official records may not have survived it is possibly the closest I am going to get to finding out what Wybrants KINGHORN got up to.

There is so much information in there, almost enough to create a re-construction of the crime. I shall certainly want visit the locations mentioned and find out about the other people involved. It also highlights the fact that I need to try and find some more details on his other criminal activities, to see what else he got up to.

For whatever reason though he was actually acquitted of the charge, despite having admitted to taking the cloth (according to the report). I would love to know how he managed to get away with it!

Search the Australian Convicts Collection for free on Ancestry until the 31st January

28 Jan

Until the 31st January 2010, users registered with Ancestry.co.uk (and presumably any of the other international sites) have free access to the Australian Convicts Collection.

The collection consists of fifteen separate database:

  • Certificates of Freedom (1827-1867)
  • Convict Registers of Conditional and Absolute Pardons (1791-1867
  • Australian Convict Transportation Registers
    – First Fleet (1787-1788)
    – Second Fleet (1789-1790)
    – Third Fleet (1791)
    – Other Fleets & Ships (1791-1868)
  • England & Wales Criminal Registers (1791-1892)
  • Convict Pardons and Tickets of Leave (1834-1859)
  • Australia Convict Musters (1806-1849)
  • Australia Convict Ship Muster Rolls and Related Records (1790-1849)
  • Convict Death Register (1826-1879)
  • Convict Savings Bank Books (1824-1886)
  • Registers of Convicts’ Applications to Marry (1826-1851)
  • Settler and Convict Lists (1787-1834)
  • List of Convicts with Particulars (1788-1842)

You will notice that the collection includes the England & Wales Criminal Registers (1791-1892), so even if your English ancestors weren’t transported to Australia, you are almost certain to find one of your relatives up to no good (or being accused) at one time or another.

Did Henry SHORNDEN change his name to hide his criminal past?

15 Oct

I have been trying to make sense of some of my notes from the London Family History Centre today, in particular I was trying to work out what was going on with Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT.

While I think I have located Henry’s baptism in Ospringe, Kent I would like to prove a connection between Henry SHORNDEN in Kent and Henry WRIGHT in Hampshire, other than the fact that some of his children were baptised and registered under the surname of SHORNDEN or some other variant.

I thought I would try a search on Ancestry.co.uk on the Criminal Registers they released earlier this year. I searched for Henry SHORNDEN and only one result came up. A 28-year-old called Henry SHORNDEN was tried at the County Sessions at Maidstone, Kent on the 4th January 1838. My Henry SHORNDEN would have been 28 in 1838 and he was last heard of in Kent (he first turns up again in Hampshire in 1842), this has to be my 3x great grandfather.

His crime was larceny, of which he was found guilty and was imprisoned for 12 months. To me this seems a perfect reason for him to move away from him home and change his name once he got out, to try and hide his past.

So now I need to find out what it was he actually did, whether there was any mention of a family and where he went to prison. Perhaps he was imprisoned in Hampshire, which is why he ended up in that part of the world? I still haven’t done anything about finding out more about Wybrants KINGHORN’s criminal activities, and now I have another criminal in my tree to investigate.

Some background listening for chasing criminals

4 Aug

If the recent release of the Criminal Registers 1791-1892 on Ancestry.co.uk has inspired you to start chasing after a criminal in your own family tree then you might be interested in some of the podcasts produced by The National Archives on the subjects of criminals and prisons.

These podcasts are recordings of talks given at The National Archives in Kew, and cover a varied range of subjects and historical periods (right up to only a few decades ago). Usually, but not always, the talk has some connection to the holdings of The National Archives. The show notes for each podcast contain a varying degree of background material, all have a brief description of the talk, but some also include illustrations and a transcript of the talk.

Those relevant to the subject of criminals and prisons include:

Victorian Women Prisoners by Chris Heather (published 9th October 2008)

The real Little Dorrit: Charles Dickens and the debtors’ prison by David Thomas (published 28th November 2008)

Catching Victorian and Edwardian criminals on paper by Professor Barry Godfrey and Doctor David Cox (published 8th May 2009)

Prison: five hundred years behind bars by Edward Marston (published 22nd May 2009)

If you watched last week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? with Kate Humble then you might also want to have a listen to the podcast about The Great Escape, which tells the real story behind the events that inspired the film.

Criminal registers at ancestry.co.uk

3 Aug

Why do Ancestry always do this to me? I thought I had this week nicely planned out, I knew what I wanted to achieve this week and then Ancestry go and put up a new database, which I cannot resist exploring.

The database in question is the Criminal Registers (1791-1892) from the National Archives (Series HO 26 and HO 27). These have been in the works for a while as part of the Ancestry World Archives Project. I learnt about their release at lunchtime from the BBC News website, and couldn’t resist having a look on ancestry.co.uk and checking some of my surnames.

The disadvantage of this database is that it provides very little detail on what actually took place, but there is just enough here to provide a gateway to further research. I can see that newspapers are probably going to be quite useful here, and this database is going to open up a lot of interesting material that would probably never have come to light otherwise (unless an ancestor was found in prision during a census or was transported). Another good starting point mentioned by Ancestry is the National Archives research guide Tracing 19th and 20th Century Criminals.

A case in point is one of my elusive relations Wybrants KINGHORN (son of my 3x great grandfather Thomas KINGHORN). There are two entries in the database for him, the first trial on the 31st May 1852 resulted in imprisonment for 8 months for simple larceny. The second trial on the 9th December 1853 was for larceny in dwelling house after previous conviction, but this time he was aquitted. Both trials took place in Westminster, Middlesex which fits with what little I do know about him already.

Maybe the reason I can’t find him in the 1851 and 1861 census is that he was detained elsewhere or even using an alias. Whatever the reason I now need to follow this up and search for more details and clues to his whereabouts. I can see it is not going to be a quick process, but now Ancestry and it’s transcribers have provided me with a signpost it is up to me to try and find out more. Time to go and re-write my plans!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 119 other followers

%d bloggers like this: