My an­ces­tor com­mit­ted mur­der. Is this his mar­riage cer­tifi­cate?

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - Q & A - Michael Gandy

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

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