Find your criminal ancestors in new Crime, Prisons & Punishment records

February 25th, 2013 has just launched its latest groundbreaking collection: over half a million historical records of criminals and their victims.

Today marks the culmination of a two-year project to scan and transcribe original records from The National Archives. We’ve made the records available online for the first time, and is the only place you can view these fascinating documents.

The Crime, Prisons & Punishment records will be crucial to your research as they contain information about your ancestors that isn’t available in other records. They really give you a sense of what kind of person your ancestor was and you could even find a photo of them!

Search Crime, Prisons & Punishment records now

We’re launching our collection with records for the period 1817-1931. We’ll add new records in the coming months to bring the total to more than 2.5 million records for the period 1770-1934.

Search new Crime, Prisons & Punishment records on

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Above is a record from the collection – click on the image for a larger version.

The record tells the story of charwoman Charlotte Smith, also known as Elizabeth Smith. Charlotte was convicted of being a habitual drunkard in 1903 and sentenced to one month of hard labour.

As well as two photos, the record also provides a detailed physical description: Charlotte was 5ft 5 inches tall with a stout build, fresh complexion, oval face, dark brown hair and blue eyes. She had a slightly pug nose and scars over left eyebrow, right cheek, right side of neck, left side of lower lip and palm of left hand.

It’s time to find how many criminal ancestors are in your family tree…

Search Crime, Prisons & Punishment records now

Search millions of pages of historical British newspapers on

November 7th, 2012

We’ve just published millions of pages of historical newspapers from across England, Wales and Scotland on

This collection contains local newspapers for the period 1710-1950. More than 200 titles are included and we’ll be adding more all the time.

Anyone tracing their family tree will be keen to search this collection straight away: the newspapers perfectly complement traditional family history records and can add a whole new dimension to your research.

It’s possible to find really detailed information about your family which brings to life the facts we already know about our ancestors’ lives.

Search millions of pages of historical British newspapers on

The article above from the collection describes the wedding of Captain Hugh Jackson and Laura Kirkland in 1915 – click on the image for a larger version.

As well as a photo of the couple on their big day, it provides a fantastic amount of detail, from in-depth descriptions of what the bride, bridesmaids and other guests wore to the names of all the key people who took part in this special day.

Finding an article like this is the next best thing to actually being there yourself. What will you discover in the newspapers?

Search the newspapers now

We permanently reduce the price of the 1911 census

October 18th, 2012

We always try to give you the best possible value for money, so we’ve permanently reduced the price of the 1911 census.

From now on, you can view a 1911 census original image for 5 credits (previously 30) and a transcript for 5 credits (previously 10).

There’s never been a better time to search the 1911 census!

Search the 1911 census now

View previously hidden details of your family’s health in 1911

January 6th, 2012

We’ve just published the ‘infirmity’ column of the 1911 census on If your ancestors completed this part of their census return, you’ll be able to see fresh information about your family’s illnesses and conditions in 1911.

Under data protection regulations, this potentially sensitive information had to remain hidden until now – we’ve just made it available for the first time.

It’s possible to discover really detailed information about your family’s health. The census image below shows Elizabeth Eleanor Thorp from Yorkshire who is recorded as having ‘one eye removed in 1907 for disease (gout)‘ – click the image to enlarge it.

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Click to enlarge

Other examples we’ve found in the infirmity column show that our ancestors weren’t afraid to reveal their quirks and eccentricities: ‘A taste for drink combined with gout’, ’stron and hearty would like to be married’ and ’sound as a bell thank god’.

We have also just revealed any recorded details of children born to women in prison who were aged three or under at the time of the census.

Until 31 January 2012, we’re offering you the chance to view the 1911 census at hugely reduced prices. View a 1911 census original image for 10 credits (previously 30) and a transcript for 5 credits (previously 10).

Any 1911 census images and transcriptions you viewed on will be free to view again. Make sure you take advantage of our reduced prices until 31 January 2012 – why wait?

Search the 1911 census now

Yorkshire day: Mike Tindall’s Yorkshire roots

August 1st, 2011

Yorkshire Day is held on 1 August every year and is a celebration of the culture and history of the county. We’re getting in the spirit here at and have found some lovely Yorkshire examples in the 1911 census.

We’ve taken a look at the family history of the newest member of the royal family, Mike Tindall. Tindall married Zara Phillips, the Queen’s granddaughter, on Saturday at Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh.

As with the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton earlier this year, this weekend’s royal wedding was an example of a royal marrying out of the upper classes. We can see Mike Tindall’s working class Yorkshire roots by taking a look at his ancestors in the 1911 census.

Mike Tindall's maternal family - please click to enlarge

Mike Tindall's maternal family - please click to enlarge

Tindall’s maternal great-great-grandparents Charles and Fanny Machell were living in Yeadon in the West Riding of Yorkshire at the time of the 1911 census. Their census form reveals that Fanny had given birth to a staggering 13 children, three of whom had sadly died by 1911.

Charles and Fanny were living with nine of their surviving offspring in 1911. Charles was employed as a stone mason at a stone quarry, while the eldest of the Machell brood were employed as nippers, woolliers and twisters at a cloth mill. The census form also reveals that their property only had five rooms – rather small for such a large family!

Mike Tindall's paternal family - please click to enlarge

Mike Tindall's paternal family - please click to enlarge

Tindall’s paternal great-great-grandmother Sarah Ann Tindall can also be spotted in the 1911 census. She was a widow at this point in her life and was living in Skipton in the West Riding of Yorkshire with two daughters, three grandsons and a boarder.

Sarah’s daughters, Mike Tindall’s great-great-aunts, appear to have been rather entrepreneurial. Each was recorded as being a ‘joint restaurant proprietress’ in the 1911 census.

Enjoy Yorkshire day!

Harper Beckham: traditionally a male name

July 12th, 2011

The newest addition to the Beckham clan, Harper Seven Beckham, was born yesterday to much speculation about the inspiration behind the little girl’s name. We’ve searched through the 1911 census and can reveal that baby Beckham is not the first to have been given the name Harper, though most people with this name 100 years ago were male.

We’ve found four female Harpers in the 1911 census, including fourteen-year-old Harper Lane. Harper was working as a Nurse and Housemaid at The Bank House in Royston, Hertfordshire – just 45 minutes away from where Victoria Beckham was born herself.

Harper Lane's 1911 census return - please click to enlarge

Harper Lane's 1911 census return - please click to enlarge

By comparison, there were 128 male Harpers in the 1911 census. It seems odd that after reportedly wanting a girl for so long, the Beckhams appear to have given their baby a traditionally male name.

What do you think of the Beckhams’ choice of name and have you found any ancestors named Harper?

Real-life Harry Potter found in the 1911 census

July 7th, 2011
Today sees the world premiere of the final Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part two). It’s therefore very apt that this should also be the day that discovers a wizard in the 1911 census!
John Watkins Holden had been born in Worcester but was lodging at a house in Bournemouth at the time of the 1911 census. Holden, aged 68, recorded his occupation as ‘Wizard of Ye Wicked World’, stating that he was working in the magic industry and that at this point in 1911, he was ‘on tour’. Amusingly, he also reveals that he was ‘very much married’ when asked about his marital status.



A wizard in the 1911 census - please click to enlarge

A wizard in the 1911 census - please click to enlarge

Our wizard can be found in a number of the earlier censuses too. He was working as a Conjuror when the 1891 census was taken and was listed as ‘The Queen’s Magician & Wizard of the Wicked World’ in the 1881 census.

Have you made any interesting discoveries while searching the 1911 census? Give it a go now and see which ancestors you can conjure up!



What did The Times report the day after the 1911 census?

March 25th, 2011

Following our look at The People newspaper from 1911 census day, we’ve turned our attention to The Times from 3 April 1911 - the day after the 1911 census was taken.

In an article called ‘The Taking of the Census’, the newspaper describes the royal household’s completion of the 1911 census. It reports that the royal family ‘set an excellent example in the careful and accurate filling up of the Census schedules.’ Not all the credit should go to the royals themselves, however, as the article goes on to say, ‘the Royal Family did not supply the details personally, but the necessary particulars were carefully compiled and returned on their behalf.’

Looking at a very different section of society, the article then focuses on how homeless people were recorded in the 1911 census. It reports that the Salvation Army walked the streets of London on census night ‘to gather men in from the highways for food and rest and enumeration and classification.’

Regent’s Hall was ‘prepared for some hundreds of wanderers’ and, although midnight was given as the official opening time, ‘an hour earlier scores of men, shabby in appearance and too poor to pay for a bed in the cheapest “doss-house,” had lined up on the pavement in front of the Westminster shelter.’ It’s easy to understand the incentive for these men to be included in the census: after being enumerated, each man received soup and bread and a place to sleep until 4am when they were sent back to the streets with ‘two big hunches of bread and margarine’.

The police had orders to take a census of anyone they found living on the streets on census night but the Salvation Army’s work had ‘practically cleared the streets of its usual nomads’. We discovered 10 homeless men who were recorded in the 1911 census as being ‘found in open air’:

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Click to enlarge

In another article in the same newspaper, ‘A Last Word on the Census’, The Times poignantly comments: ‘We are all, by faithfully writing a line or two in the great Book of the Nation, helping each other; and, to an extent and in ways in which we can now imperfectly realize we are also helping ages to come.’ We couldn’t have put it better ourselves!

The People’s advice on how to prepare for the 1911 census

March 24th, 2011

In the lead up to the 2011 census on Sunday 27 March, we’ve been looking at The People newspaper from Sunday 2 April 1911 - the day that the 1911 census was taken.

In an article named ‘Numbering Nobs’, the paper informs readers about the different census questions, the problems they could pose and offers tips on completing the form.

Directed at the head of the household, the article stresses the importance of filling in all the questions: ‘any evasion is treated with the severest penalties’. Slightly menacingly, the paper goes on to state that, ‘No one, however great or however insignificant, can escape the census’.

On the issue of how to approach potentially sensitive questions when filling in the census, the article uses the example of a cook who is separated from her husband. The head of the household is advised to ‘postpone his questions till after dinner - otherwise the dinner may be spoiled.’

Here you can see a 1911 census return which suggests that the head of this household didn’t read The People’s advice on how to fill in the form:

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Click to enlarge

The article also mentions the suffragettes, saying ‘the avowed determination of the suffragists to withhold all information about themselves is likely to lead to considerable friction in some quarters.’ It goes on to say that ‘the more hardy’ protesters would probably spend the night in Trafalgar Square. We know all about one famous suffragette’s whereabouts on census night - Emily Davison spent the night hiding in the House of Commons.

It’s fascinating to read about how the nation prepared for the 1911 census. Perhaps in another 100 years, future generations will be doing the same with the 2011 census.

Homeless men recorded in 1911 census

November 2nd, 2010

We’ve made a fascinating discovery in the 1911 census which shows that you didn’t have to be living in a house on census night to be recorded.

This census return details 10 homeless men ‘found in open air’ on census night. The men’s ages range from 23 to 62 and all were employed; their professions include cigar maker, farm labourer and boot maker.

Most of the men were born in London, but one of the men was born in Atlantic City, New York State, US.

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Click to enlarge

The registrar has signed the form with the following comment: ‘Copied from Police Reports of Homeless Persons Enumerated as sleeping out 2/4/11′.

It is discoveries such as these which give us a wonderfully detailed picture of the different lives that were captured on census night.