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!