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Researchers could discover shady characters lurking in their family tree following the digitisation of historic documents from The National Archives.
Genealogy site findmypast.co.uk has added more than 1.9 million new records to its England & Wales Crime, Prisons and Punishment collection, revealing details of convicted kin as far back as the 1790s.
Fully searchable, the collection – comprising 18 individual record sets – can provide users with information such as their ancestors’ names, ages, addresses, the crimes that they committed and the punishments they received.
In some cases, a mugshot picture may also be enclosed within the file, enabling people to see their ancestors in the flesh.
“These new records offer a unique insight into the country’s criminal past,” said Myko Clelland, historian at Findmypast. “Whether villain or victim, anyone can now discover whether their family tree contains any hidden ‘black sheep’ or victims, from their very own home at the touch of a button.”
The records have been made available online thanks to an ongoing Findmypast partnership with The National Archives to digitise its key criminal collections, which saw an initial tranche of 500,000 records – including prison hulk registers – uploaded to the site in February 2013.
A Findmypast spokesperson told WDYTYA? Magazine that a final batch of records would be added later this year.
The collection features 18 record sets, some of which feature haunting mugshots