findmypast.ie Publishes Irish Prison Registers Online
Released on: November 03, 2011, 5:19 am
Internet & Online
findmypast.ie has launched the Irish Prison Registers
1790-1920 online for the first time, an untapped resource for those
tracing their Irish roots.
The original Prison Registers, held at the National Archives of Ireland, cover all
types of custodial institutions, from bridewells, to county prisons, to sanatoriums
for alcoholics. They contain over 3.5 million entries, spread over 130,000 pages,
with most records giving comprehensive details of the prisoner, including the name,
address, place of birth, occupation, religion, education, age, physical description,
name and address of next of kin, the crime committed, the sentence, dates of
committal and release/decease.
The registers offer a real insight into 18th - 19th century Ireland and present
evidence of a society of rebellion and social confrontation, where rioting and
assault of police officers were everyday occurrences. They also reveal the rampant
poverty and destitution that many faced, with the theft of everything from
handkerchiefs to turnips.
The reasons for incarceration cover all types of crime but the most common offence
was drunkenness, which accounted for over 30% of all crimes reported and over 25% of
incarcerations. The top five offences recorded in the registers are:
- Drunkenness - 25%
- Theft - 16%
- Assault - 12%
- Vagrancy - 8%
- Rioting - 4%
The nature of these crimes was significantly different from those in England.
Figures show that the rate of conviction for drunkenness and tax evasion was 3 times
greater, and the rate of both destruction of property and prostitution were double
what they were for the same time period in England.
The records are full of individuals who were arrested for very minor offences. For
example, a record from the Cork City Gaol Court Book lists an arrest for Giles
O'Sullivan (26), with no education and no previous convictions, on the 30th of
March 1848 for being "a dangerous and suspicious character". Other examples of the
heavy hand of the law can be seen in the case of John Cunningham from Finglas (21)
who was arrested for "Washing a car on a thoroughfare" and young Christopher Doyle
(14) arrested "for being an idle, disorderly rogue and vagabond".
With the Irish population averaging 4.08 million each year for this time period and
over 3.5 million names in the records, it would suffice to say that almost every
family in Ireland was touched by these records, as offenders, their relatives or
victims of crime.
Brian Donovan, Director of findmypast Ireland,
commented: "These records provide an invaluable resource for anyone tracing their
Irish ancestors as during the period covered almost every household in Ireland had a
convict in their family. These records provide such a wealth of information that
they are sure to shock and surprise almost anyone looking for the missing links in
their Irish family tree."
Findmypast.ie is the world's most comprehensive Irish family history website, providing easy-to-search, online access to some of the most significant Irish records that have ever been made available. It allows users to search records such as births deaths marriages records and the 1901 Census Ireland.
This new site is a joint venture between two experts in the field: findmypast.co.uk,
one of the leading family history websites and part of the brightsolid family, and
Eneclann, an award-winning Trinity College Campus Company specialising in
genealogical and historical research and the publication of historical records.
Based in Dublin, findmypast.ie has a dedicated team committed to providing the best
experience possible when researching Irish family history.
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