Six weeks hard labour for donkey rustling: Victorian criminal records published online for first time


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The Independent Online

Victorian criminal records detailing everything from murder and arson to petty theft, drunkenness and donkey stealing have been published online for the first time today.

The records of more than 67,000 Victorian criminals have been published on family history website

They contain details of the criminal's name, the place and date of the conviction, the sentence given, as well as information about previous crimes and a physical description.

The Dorset, England Prison Admission and Discharge Registers 1782-1901 and Dorset, England, Calendar of Prisoners 1854-1904 also contain mug shots of convicts.

Among the criminals recorded are 18-year-old George Pill who was sentenced to six weeks hard labour for stealing a donkey, and Charles Wood, a drunk who was sentenced to a month in prison for “refusing to quit the beer-house”.

Samuel Baker, aged 73, was convicted of breaking into a house and stealing some vests, a pair of stockings and two brushes.

He was sentenced to nine months hard labour.

The records also have details of labourer James Seal who was sentenced to death in 1858 for the murder of Sarah Ann Guppy. content manager Miriam Silverman said: “The fact that these records feature photographs as well as physical descriptions means anyone with an ancestor in the collection will find out a great deal about them, whilst others can uncover compelling information about forgotten members of society who were down on their luck.

“Records such as these that pre-date civil registration also allow researchers to delve deeper into our past than other historical records allow, unlocking the opportunity to find out more about some of Britain's lesser-known characters - including these roguish criminals.”