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Old Bailey Online - Fantastic Insight into Social & Criminal History (1674-1913)

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posted on Feb, 5 2011 @ 09:46 AM
I just wanted to share a wonderfully interesting site I recently chanced upon:

Old Bailey Online

The site allows you to search and read digitised versions of all surviving editions of the Old Bailey Proceedings (1674 to 1913) and of the Ordinary of Newgate's Accounts (1676 and 1772). A fantastic resource for anyone like myself who is interested in London's social and criminal history.

In addition to providing an insight into the "everyday" crimes in London during this period, there is also the opportunity to read the proceedings of more well-known cases, such as that of the recently vindicated Dr Crippen:

CRIPPEN, Hawley Harvey (48, dentist) was indicted for and charged on coroner's inquisition with the wilful murder of Cora Crippen, otherwise Belle Elmore .

Mr. Muir, Mr. Travers Humphreys, and Mr. Oddie prosecuted; Mr. Tobin, K.C., Mr. Huntly Jenkins, and Mr. Roome defended.

HAWLEY HARVEY CRIPPEN (prisoner, on oath). I am 48 years of age: I am an American, and a doctor of medicine of the Cleveland Homoeopathic Hospital in America; I have not been through a practical course of surgery but a theoretical course.

Source: Crippen

Additional Information: Crippen - Innocent

The site also allows you to extract data (in the form of tabled statistics) based on the key information you're interested in (e.g. month/year, gender, offence, verdict, age of defendent etc) and links you to the associated cases.

Statistics: Statistics

For the social history buff, there are some interesting things to be found using this. For example:

* There were 4,169 highway robbery cases heard between 1674 and 1913, 4 of which were found guilty and received a "respited" punishment due to pregnancy.
* There were 1,077 sodomy cases heard between 1674 and 1913 resulting in 570 guilty verdicts and including 53 death sentences.

For those of you who wish to learn more about the Old Bailey:

The Old Bailey
Old Bailey

Hope you enjoy exploring the site as much as I am

edit on 5/2/11 by lizziejayne because: typo

posted on Feb, 5 2011 @ 01:13 PM
Absolutely fascinating, just spent a couple of hours sifting through the records - good call!

I came across one case that sent a shiver down my spine... sodomy (homosexuality) was a carnal crime in those days, and if convicted it's quite possible you could have been sentenced to death. One tale recounts how some undercover policemen went searching for offenders in "Sodomitical Houses", and when propositioned by one they delivered on the spot justice:

"The Prisoner came to me, put his Hands my Breeches thrust his Tongue into my mouth swore that he'd go 40 Mile enjoy me and beg'd of me to go backward, and let him - but I refusing he offer'd to sit bare in my Lap upon which Partridge snatch'd a red hot pocker out he Fire and then run it into his arse."

Eww. That's gotta hurt!


posted on Feb, 5 2011 @ 03:55 PM
reply to post by GoldenChild

Glad you're finding it as compelling a read as I am.

Good find with the case too

As an aside, I thought he got off lightly considering the sort of crime he was accused of and the general attitude at the time:

Martin Mackintosh to stand in the Pillory near Bloomsbury Square, pay a fine of 10 Marks, and suffer one Year's Imprisonment.

For some reason, I was also shocked to read the word "arse" used in court proceedings, considering it was 1726. That said, I'm not sure why that was, considering the documented and official uses of far worse profanities at the time

posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 05:43 AM
reply to post by lizziejayne

I guess they took the red hot poker up his jacksy in mitigation...

Being pilloried doesn't sound like much fun either to be honest, left there with a placard detailing your crimes and at the mercy of the public. According to Wikipedia it wasn't unusual for this to result in death either. Life in London at those times sounds pretty bad to me all round, glad I wasn't there to experience it first hand.

I was surprised to see the word 'arse' being used too, I guess it as common parlance at the times so didn't raise any eyebrows - if you (ahem) search for 'arse' on the website it comes up quite a bit. I only wish I knew some more 17th and 18th century swear words

posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 09:20 AM
reply to post by GoldenChild

Just to advise that none of the links below are safe for work and all contain strong language that may offend...

You may find these of interest:

1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue - although not so much a list of profanities, it provides an insight into the slang words used by the underworld at the time.

The Origins and Common Usage of British Swear-words

Both are quite enlightening when it comes to how unexpectedly early certain words were in use. Also, it's quite surprising to see how the "acceptability" of certain words have changed/flipped over the years.

Lastly, one thing in particular that's always fascinated me: Grope Lane

That one stuns me every time!
edit on 6/2/11 by lizziejayne because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 09:44 AM
For anyone interested in learning more about Victorian London, I've always found the following site an amazing resource:

The Victorian Dictionary

The site provides a comprehensive insight into aspects of Victorian life, ranging from the every day (food & drink, fashion, education etc) to the more extraordinary (baby farming, abortion, sex, transexuality etc).

The eel-pie shop is not as fascinating, but is almost as well patronised. The dressing of an eel-pie shop window is conservative. It is a tradition handed down through many generations to the present day. The eels are shown artistically in lengths on a bed of parsley which is spread over a dish. On either side of the eels cold pies in their pans are laid in tempting profusion but in perfect order. The eel-pie shop varies its menu. You may procure at the same establishment cranberry tarts, and at some of them apple tarts ; also meat pies and meat puddings, and at the Christmas season mince pies.

There are certain newspapers in whose advertisement columns the baby-farmer advertises for “live stock” constantly, and at the time it was observed with great triumph by certain people that since the vile hag’s detection the advertisements in question had grown singularly few and mild.


It's an amazing site that incorporates contemporary accounts and reporting. Check it out

edit on 6/2/11 by lizziejayne because: to add quotes

posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 07:01 PM
reply to post by lizziejayne

LMAO... man, you're good - thanks for that LJ!

A couple of your links didn't work for me - I googled the origins of swear words and came up with a BBC article, is that what you intended?

Also, the Grope Lane link...
Again, the link didn't work but I assume it was for Gropec**t Lane? OMG, that's so funny, tickles my schoolboy humour no end! A part of the Wikipedia entry did make me laugh, in reference to the law clamping down on prostitution in London: "in 1393 the authorities in London allowed prostitutes to work only in Cocks Lane..."

Thank you, that really cheered me up

posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 07:09 PM
reply to post by GoldenChild

Cheers! It's good to know I'm not the only grown up who chuckles at this sort of stuff

Apologies for the dodgy links - that's what I get for posting in a hurry! Corrected link below, although you've already sourced it:

The Origins and Common Usage of British Swear-words

Edit to add: The Grope Lane one unfortunately can't be fixed. The censors are picking up the naughty second word in the http address and editing it on publish

edit on 6/2/11 by lizziejayne because: (no reason given)


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