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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 18, May 4, 2008, Article 19

OLD BAILEY COURT RECORDS NOW ONLINE

An E-Sylum reader forwarded an article from The Economist
about the opening of an online archive of London's criminal
court proceedings from the Old Bailey Courthouse.

He writes: "Old Bailey is properly known as Justice Hall or
Sessions House. Surely you walked right by it during your
time in London.  Anyway, the web site has court records from
some of the cases adjudicated therein, including counterfeiting."

[This looks like a great trove of potential information for
numismatic researchers.  Poke around and see what you can
find relating to your specialty.  Here are some excerpts
from The Economist article. -Editor]

The free archive is a goldmine for family-tree growers, who
may discover they are related to such unfortunates as Henry
Williams, who in 1886 was sentenced to four months' hard
labour for “attempting an abominable crime with a mare”.
And the website's search facility throws up new research
possibilities: Clive Emsley of Open University has spotted
that an inspector from the Royal Mint gave evidence dozens
of times during the 1840s, for example, which throws new
light on the true scale of counterfeiting at that time.

The archive ends in 1913, when the City of London could no
longer afford to publish the court's proceedings: people
were buying newspapers instead, which offered more salacious
details.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

[As Dick Johnson has aptly pointed out in his advice to
researchers, don't take what you find at face value - think
about whether it makes sense.  I did a quick search for the
famous coiner "Matthew Boulton" and found this listing from
the year 1776:

 MATTHEW BOULTON was indicted for stealing eight hempen sacks,
 value nine shillings , the property of Abraham Cowley ,
 February 7th .

Born in 1728, the numismatic Boulton was nearly fifty years
old in 1776 and at the height of his career, and probably
living away from London.  So this reference is probably to
another Englishman of the same name.

In the late 1830s-1840s John Field of the Royal Mint was
often called upon as an expert witness in counterfeiting
cases.  Here's one transcript from a hearing on 3rd February
1840, -Editor]

SUSAN PANTRY . I am the prosecutor's wife. On Monday, the 6th
of January, the prisoner came for two penny-worth of rum—he
gave me a six-pence—I examined it, and saw it was bad—I handed
it to my husband—he walked out with it, and fetched a policeman—
I had not given the prisoner his change—he asked me afterwards
for half a pint of porter, and told me to warm it—while I was
doing so he walked out, without his change—my husband was then
at the door—the prisoner had seen me hand the sixpence to my
husband, and my husband go out.

WILLIAM ROBERT BLACK . I am a police inspector of the D
division. I took the prisoner, and received these three
sixpences from the prosecutor—I asked the prisoner how he
came to pass them—he said he was not aware they were bad,
and he had taken them from his customers in selling oranges—
he had a carpenter's basket with him, but no oranges—I found
on him a good shilling and 10d. in coppers, three pieces of
silk, and a small piece of wood—I never saw him before.

MR. JOHN FIELD . I am inspector of coin to the Royal Mint.
These three sixpences are all counterfeit, but all of coin
of different dates.

To access the Old Bailey web site, see:
oldbaileyonline.org/

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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