Find your ancestors in Middlesex, London, Old Bailey Court records 1674-1913

What can these records tell me?

This collection is composed of both transcripts and links to images of the original documents. The records come from Old Bailey/Central Criminal Court Proceedings 1674-1913 (197,745 criminal proceedings), of which we have images for the records pertaining to the years 1834 to 1913, and Ordinary’s Accounts 1676-1772 (2,500 biographies of executed criminals at Tyburn).

  • First name(s)
  • Last name
  • Aliases
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Home
  • Year
  • Event date
  • Role
  • Offence description
  • Offence category (nine general categories, 64 specific types – see below for a full list)
  • Location of crime
  • Punishment category (six general categories, 26 specific types – see below for a full list)
  • Punishment subcategory
  • Victim’s age
  • Victim’s sex
  • Verdict category (four general categories, 23 specific types – see below for a full list)
  • Verdict subcategory
  • Trial ID
  • Source ID
  • Image URL
  • Place
  • County

Images will often be able to provide additional details and insight into the proceedings.

Discover more about these records

The original medieval court was situated next to the Newgate gaol and dated back to at least 1585. After it was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, it was rebuilt in 1674, which is when these records start. The name of Old Bailey comes from the street on which it resides. While it is still known best by this name, it was officially renamed the Central Criminal Court in 1834. Around this time, the court’s jurisdiction was expanded to allow all major cases in England to be tried there.

The passing of the Central Criminal Court Act 1856 allowed for crimes committed outside of London to be tried at the Central Criminal Court instead of in the local court. The passing of this act was a direct product of the impending trial of William Palmer, a doctor accused of murder, and the fear that the local jury of Staffordshire would be prejudiced against him.

The current courthouse stands where the Newgate gaol had. The gaol was demolished for the purpose of building the new courthouse, which was built in 1902 and opened in 1907.

Ordinary’s Accounts

These biographies are from the Ordinary of Newgate, who was the chaplain of Newgate prison located next to the Old Bailey. In that capacity, he would see to the spiritual wellbeing of prisoners condemned to death (and subsequently hung at Tyburn) and would witness to their final words and behaviour. The Ordinary was given the right to publish such observations along with a detailing of a prisoner’s life and crimes.

Along with short biographical sketches of the condemned, including an enumeration of their crimes, there would be included excerpts of the Ordinary’s sermon and details of his visits to the prisoners.

This was a very beneficial system for an Ordinary as, in the eighteenth century, revenue from such publications could be as much as £200 a year. To modern sentiments, this may seem a crass and morbid endeavor by opportunistic employees exploiting their charges. However, the intended purpose of such publications was moralistic in nature – to illustrate to the public at large the evils and consequences of sin. This explains, in part, the inclusion of biographical sketches illustrating a prisoner’s life trajectory and how smaller sins earlier in life led to greater sins later on. The records also highlight an Ordinary’s belief that redemption was not withheld from any man and that, through final confessions (“Last Dying Speech”) given just prior to hanging, like those published here, condemned prisoners could be spiritually saved. Despite the moralistic crafting of the narrative, the biographies are considered reliable as to details and dates. Findmypast has prison calendars from Newgate covering the years 1780 to 1841. They can be found in the Useful links and resources section on the search screen.