My ancestor committed murder. Is this his marriage certificate?
QGeorge Frederick James Treadaway (b1856), son of George Frederick Treadaway and Caroline Ratcliff, was found guilty of murdering John Collins in 1877. He was sentenced to death, commuted to life in prison.
The 1881 census shows Frederick (as he was known) in Chatham prison and the 1891 census shows him in prison in Portsea. I can’t find him in the 1901 census. There is a marriage certificate for 12 May 1894, St James, Paddington, which shows a George Frederick James Treadaway (aged 38, father George Frederick Treadaway) marrying Emma Porter.
George marries Emmeline Louise Evans in 1917 after Emma’s death in 1916. Is this the same George Treadaway who received a life sentence for murder?
Carole Costin, by email
AAfter the commutation of his sentence to life imprisonment George was sent to Pentonville Prison in North London. There are registers of prisoners 18771882 at The National Archives (TNA) in PCOM 2/100 and a photograph album of prisoners 1876-1878 in PCOM 2/99.
By 1881, Frederick was in prison at Chatham. There are registers of prisoners in PCOM 2/4 1871-1881; PCOM 2/5 1881-1886 and PCOM 2/6 1886-1892. By 1891, Frederick was in prison at Portsmouth. There are registers of prisoners in PCOM 2/129 1874-1882 and PCOM 2/130 1884-1885 but there don’t seem to be any at TNA after that. Using these you may be able to document his moves and find out whether he was in any other prisons in the years between the censuses.
Frederick was clearly discharged some time between the 1891 census and his marriage on 12 May 1894 – the details on the certificate leave me in no doubt the marriage is his. The later records of prisoners at Portsmouth, if they can be found, may give a date of discharge but this cannot have been automatic as his sentence was for life.
There must have been a process from some sort of petition or appeal to a decision in favour. Correspondence in respect of his release (maybe even pardon, though that seems unlikely) will probably be in the Home Office outletters (HO 43); registered papers (HO 45); supplementary (HO 144) or large (HO 326). They are original documents at TNA and will have to be called
up. Start in HO 43 where piece numbers 170-189 cover the years 1890-1894. There was probably correspondence at various dates and this may have begun before the 1891 census. However, it is easier to trace correspondence backwards as each letter is likely to give the date of the preceding one, so you might be better to start at the end of (say) 1893.
Among the records in HO 45 is something from the Prisoners Aid Society in Portsmouth (HO 45/9740/A55334), which you should look at. This was an organisation for men who had nowhere to go after leaving prison. However, Frederick clearly returned to his family as he was married in his home area and two Treadaways signed the certificate, so he may not have needed its help. It is also possible Frederick’s release was reported in a local newspaper which may be found online via Findmypast.
189ThThemarriagecertificateofGeorgeFrederickJamesTreadawayandEmmaPorteron12Mayi tifi t fG Fd i kJ T d dE P t 12 M 1894