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Cime and Punishment at the Old Bailey

In our continuing efforts to present useful research tools, well-organized historical records, and egregious time wasters sure to get you fired, I offer the Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1834. Branding_WEB.jpg The site is absolutely fascinating! For those of you less familiar with English history and law, the Old Bailey is the name of the central court in London. To preserve the early history of the Old Bailey, a group of English historians (backed by several universities and the U.K. government) scanned most of the surviving editions of the Old Bailey Proceedings from 1674 to 1834, and put them into a searchable database designed to help you find all sorts of trials including offenses against the king, murder, pickpocketing, perverting justice, and vagabonding.

After messing around with a few search terms, I found cases involving some of the worst scumbags to ever walk the streets of London, as well as some of the worst injustices imaginable. Here’s one of the more tame and common entries:

Woman, theft, 29th April, 1674.
There was also a Woman tryed for stealing a Silver Cup , the manner thus; she went to a Victualling House to drink a pot of Ale, and after having tarried some time, she desired the Woman of the House to lend her a Chamber pot, which she going to fetch it for her, she ran away with a Silver Cup that then stood on a Shelf in the Kitchen, and afterwards being taken by the Watch a night-walking, she was carried to Bridewell, where the Cup was found under her Arm, between her Arm and her Wastcoat, which she confessing where she stole it was sent to Newgate, and from thence to Justice-Hall in the Old-Baily, where being Arraigned, she was examined by the Court what she did intend to do with the Cup to which she answered, that she did intend to bring it again, whereupon she was Convicted, and put by to be transported.

Being transported meant the guilty party was sent abroad to the colonies, likely America. Not a good thing back then. But at least it wasn't this.

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London, 1674 to 1834


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