Saturday, January 2, 2010

Tracing Criminal Ancestors?

If one of your ancestors turns out to have something of a rogue, a rapscallion, a "black sheep" of the family, in the old days most people would try to hide that part of their family tree. Personally, I would love to find out that I had some ancestor who turned out to be that interesting (haven't yet, but hoping). Back in the day, many people were forced to live just outside the law because of the times and circumstances that they lived. There's no need to judge them poorly, and many celebrate their ne'er-do-well ancestors. Many people were sent off to Botany Bay and the penal colonies of Australia for very minor offences.

As a genealogist, finding out that you have a criminal lurking in the family tree will open up an interesting line of research. How exactly do you trace the wayward ancestor through the courts? That's where this book can come in handy. need to know how to trace that person, and for this Criminal Ancestors is .

David Hawkings' Criminal Ancestors: A Guide To Historical Criminal Records In England and Wales proves to be an invaluable guide. This book has now been revised and updated and includes information about the mountains of materials and records held by all County and Borough Record Offices, The National Archives, police archives and other repositories.

Hawkings provides many example cases and illustrations, and includes appendicies with source material. The book shows a case history tracing one individual criminal and the results that can be obtained.

Also, there is another book on the subject, Steven Wade's TRACING YOUR CRIMINAL ANCESTORS which will be available from Amazon in January 2010. Either book would be a welcome addition to any family historian's library, especially if they have any ancestors with a slighty shady past.

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