Friday, May 09, 2008

If you’re snoopy, like me, you’ll enjoy this website: The Old Bailey Online
It's the proceedings of The Old Bailey, London’s central criminal court from 1674 – 1917

The transcripts are all typed out to make them easier to read, but each page actually has a scan of the original document that you can view as well.

There’s lots of everyday crimes like thefts, libel and fisticuffs—but of course it’s the murder and mayhem that are the most interesting (and sometimes astonishing) to read. There also seems to be quite an obsession with sodomy. Speaking of which, you can read the entire transcripts of Oscar Wilde’s trial (although I haven’t found that one yet).

If you go to the advanced search page you can type in actual names (in case you want to see if any of your ancestors were involved in the courts), case number and crime category (which is the most fun, I think). You can even search by date (who was tried on your birthday in 1674?)

Here’s a quote from a trial in 1679 for a woman that killed her baby:
“This Sessions beginning in the Old Bailey, 26 February, the first person brought to Tryal, was an unhappy Wench , whom the Devil had seduced to endeavour, to cover the filthy sin of Fornication, with the Scarlet Mantle of Murder, having made away her own new-born Bastard-Child.”.


Another website for snoopers is
The diaries of Samuel Pepys, a 17th century diarist who lived in London, England. He wrote entries every day for several years and all of these entries can be read on the website. I read an entry each day in the National Post.

The olde english is hard to understand most of the time, and most of his entries are rather mundane, but every once and awhile something exciting happens—like the day he stole a kiss from a colleague’s maid (against her will I’m sure!), or the fight that he had with his wife over a pair of earrings she bought without his consent. He also had an affair with his wife’s companion/maid. The week his wife caught him was just as good as TV.


At 4:48 p.m., Blogger windywoowoo said...

I love all this bloggin!!!

At 5:51 p.m., Blogger jenny said...

When I was working at the National Archives, way back....I worked on a collection of prison records from the Kingston Prison. There were descriptions of everyone's crimes beside their mugshot, and I'd say at least 1/4 of them were in there for sodomy. Weird.


Post a Comment

<< Home