Our Criminal Ancestors is a public engagement project, led by the University of Hull in collaboration with Leeds Beckett University, that encourages and supports people and communities to explore the criminal past of their own families, communities, towns and regions.

We interpret ‘criminal’ broadly to mean people that have historically encountered the criminal justice system. This might include the accused, victims, witnesses, prisoners, police, prison officers, solicitors and magistrates among others who worked in the criminal justice system.

Our criminal ancestors were often ordinary people, most were minor offenders whose contact with the criminal justice system was a brief moment in their lives – only a small minority were what we might term today ‘serious offenders’.  This project hopes to share a greater understanding of the sometimes difficult situations and context for understanding how or why individuals, and sometimes groups of people, encountering the criminal justice system.

Please join in with your stories (go to HistoryPin) – we are looking for stories and events from between roughly 1700 and 1939 (lots of records are subject to closure of between 75-100 years).  Tell us (and each other) about crime history in your local area or your family history – we are interested in stories ‘big’ and ‘small’ – perhaps your ancestors was a police officer, prison warder or a witness to a crime, they may have been an offender or a victim – using crime history records can reveal some fascinating stories but also important contextual information about our social history.

This website aims to provide a useful starting point for anyone looking to explore their criminal ancestry, providing handy tips, advice and insights on the history of crime, policing and punishment as well as case studies, blogs to help in your own research.

We hope you enjoy the resources on this website and welcome constructive feedback and suggestions. If you have a story from your own research that you’d like to share, please do get in touch. You can email us at ourcriminalpast@gmail.com.

Professor Helen Johnston, University of Hull
Professor Heather Shore, Manchester Metropolitan University (formerly Leeds Beckett University)

Editorial work and content on this website is also produced by Dr Ashley Borrett.

(Please note, we are not a genealogical research service and therefore we are unable to undertake research on your behalf.)

Latest Updates on Twitter

Another moment in #maritime #history the #SpurnLightship leaves #Hull #Marina after 34 years and heads down the River Humber ⁦ahead of her preservation work and onward journey @HullMaritime
see more @yorkshirepost https://tinyurl.com/h4fyh2x2
@DunstonShipLtd
#HullYMC @HeritageFundNOR

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Celebrating the Centenary of the Howard League for Penal Reform & the Howard Journal: Vol 60, No S1 open access articles from ⁦@sysgak⁩ @ourcriminalpast⁩ ⁦@HistorianCrime⁩ ⁦@ashleytrubin⁩ & many others! ⁦@howard_journal⁩ ⁦ https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/20591101/current

This Thursday we celebrate 100 years of the Howard Journal. A host of fantastic experts will join us to discuss long-standing and contemporary issues in crime & justice, including @sysgak @mdhanuka17 @jonbcollins @ashleytrubin @ourcriminalpast Register at: https://howardleague.org/events/100-years-of-the-howard-journal-lessons-for-contemporary-penal-policy/

So excited to see a sneak preview of @RachelDixonGood's excellent book "Infanticide: Expert Evidence and Testimony in Child Murder Cases, 1688-1955" is already available before it is published next month!! 🤩🥳 Check it out here:
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=vcBEEAAAQBAJ&newbks=0&printsec=frontcover&pg=PP5&dq=Rachel+Dixon+infanticide&hl=en&source=newbks_fb&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Rachel%20Dixon%20infanticide&f=false

This photograph from our collection was taken from what is now our car park and shows the restoration of bottle oven No 4 in 1978.
#PhotoFriday
#Stokeontrent #bottleovens #ceramics #pottery #industrtialheritage

Based on her excellent PhD @lawhulluni (supervised by @ourcriminalpast), this provides an invaluable long duree analysis of how expert witness testimony was variously shaped, accepted and denigrated in infanticide cases heard in London and Hull between the late 17th & mid-20th C

Early boys from the black stuff, roadmaking in Liverpool 1890.
Literally, a load of cobblers today
https://liverpoolmiscellany.blogspot.com/2021/09/boys-from-black-stuff.html

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(Left) Major John James Grieg, Head Constable of Liverpool from 1852-1881. (Right) Liverpool's Main Bridewell on Cheapside. Major Grieg would visit here on Sunday afternoons to loudly reprimand drunk and disorderly prisoners in the manner of the parade ground. @ourcriminalpast

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