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

It's #HeritageTreasures day and this video captures the essence of why Hull's maritime heritage is being revitalised.

Born on the Tide : https://youtu.be/e3EaGekDRCc

#MaritimeHull #HullYMC @HeritageFundNOR @HeritageFundUK

Tick Tock goes the clock! But Still 3 days in which to submit a paper for our 2022 conference ‘Facing Forward: Post-pandemic recordkeeping – change, challenge, choice’ 31 Aug-2 Sept in Chester. Deadline this Friday more info here: http://bit.ly/3IutRez

Reminder: Articles of up to 11k words dealing with histories of sexual violence from any period and any region of the world are welcomed for the upcoming special issue of Historia Critica edited by Eliza Teixeira de Toledo & myself, due by 31 January 2022 https://revistas.uniandes.edu.co/callforpapers/histcrit

Today is #HeritageTreasures Day, and we want to thank all of our museum team, who help care for the 100,000 items in our collection, as well as all of our supporters who make it possible! 💛

Have you seen this signed copy of #OliverTwist by #CharlesDickens? 📚

@heritagefunduk

@demon_drink @ourcriminalpast In 1891 Harry Dainton was convicted of drowning Hannah, his wife, in the River Avon. Hannah liked a drink &, whilst Harry was no saint, after finding her again in the pub it looked like he simply lost it. Leaving behind 6 children, one of whom was blind & died in the Workhouse.

At the start of the new year, why not brush up on your family history courses with an online course? We take a look at the latest courses available now, covering family history software, printed sources in family history and more

https://www.whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine.com/feature/the-best-genealogy-courses-available-now/

COMING SOON: Explore the county's historical connection to the many diseases & epidemics that have affected Hertfordshire since the 1300s in our new online talk FEVER
To book tickets: https://bit.ly/32Z0P6y

Did you miss our panel discussion on the 1921 Census earlier this week? Don't worry you can still join the conference, watch a recording of this week's session and join us live on 13 and 20 January. Find out more and get your conference bundle ticket here: https://www.family-tree.co.uk/how-to-guides/1921-census/celebratory-1921-census-conference/

#Census1921 📜🖋 When was the 1921 census taken? Where can you find the records? And what do they show you? @wdytyamagazine explores the latest family history resource 👉 https://buff.ly/3eTD6as

More women were employed in personal service than in any other sector in #1921Census . Find out more with @SocGenealogists best seller book My Ancestor was in Service

https://societyofgenealogists-shop.myshopify.com/products/my-ancestor-was-in-service