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Tracing Villains and Their Victims (Paperback)

A Guide to Criminal Ancestors for Family Historians

Family History True Crime Social History

By Dr Jonathan Oates
Imprint: Pen & Sword Family History
Pages: 178
ISBN: 9781473892569
Published: 4th May 2017

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In this practical handbook Jonathan Oates introduces the fascinating subject of criminal history and he gives readers all the information they need to investigate the life stories of criminals and their victims. He traces the development of the justice system and policing, and gives an insight into the criminal world of the times and the individuals who populated it. In a series of concise chapters he covers all the important aspects of the subject. At every stage, he guides readers towards the national and local sources that researchers can consult the libraries, archives, books and internet sites that reveal so much about the criminal past. Sections focus on the criminal courts, trial records, the police and police reports, and on punishments transportation, execution and prison sentences. Details of the most useful and rewarding sources are provided, among them national and local newspapers, books, the Newgate Calendar, coroners records, photographs, diaries, letters, monuments and the many internet sites which can open up for researchers the criminal side of history. Tracing Villains and Their Victims is essential reading and reference for anyone who seeks to trace an ancestor who had a criminal record or was the victim of crime.

For an individual researching crime in their family history for the first time, they will find plenty of suggestions for primary research here.

Your Family History, October 2017

With two case studies and lists of useful addresses, books and websites, this in an enlightening and easy-to-read handbook. Whether your criminal ancestor was punished in the village stocks, transported to Van Dieman's Land or hanged for murder, you may be amazed at the records available to help you research their lives - and add plenty of colour to your tree.

Family Tree, September 2017

Dr Oates presents the information in a highly readable and engaging narrative. He gives a comprehensive overview of how to track a wide range of valuable sources, all illustrated by relevant examples and case studies, while keeping in mind the victims, as well as those who committed crime. There are detailed instructions on how to access the available, but sometimes difficult to find, crime-related documents. He considers each type of resource carefully, pointing out potential pitfalls and offering helpful advice. In addition, the guide touches upon other important areas of family history research, such as manorial records and mental health institutions. This is an authoritative and well-researched book with clear explanations on how to investigate crime.

Tracing Villains and Their Victims is an essential reference guide for all those interested in crime history, including family historians whose ancestors' lives were affected by criminal activities.

Who Do You Think You Are, August 2017 – reviewed by Angela Buckley

As featured in

Antiques Diary, September-October 2017

No one wants to discover that one of their ancestors was a criminal, but when you're looking at censuses and someone's missing, and you think they should be there, where else do you look? Jonathan Oates's excellent books provides a shoe-in for amateurs and professionals alike to discover the truth about their ancestors' criminal pasts.

Read the full review here.

Books Monthly

This subject fascinates me. I love delving into the lesser known people tied up in crime cases, and what happened to them after the media glare was over.

This book is really useful for archive sources, chapters on researching family history for criminal ancestors, and lots more. I'd really recommend this!

Infamous Liverpool, Caroline Bunford

About Dr Jonathan Oates

Dr Jonathan Oates is the Ealing Borough Archivist and Local History Librarian, and he has written and lectured on aspects of the history of London, including its criminal past. His books include Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Ealing, Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Lewisham and Deptford, Unsolved Murders in Victorian and Edwardian London, Unsolved London Murders: The 1920s and 1930s, Unsolved London Murders: The 1940s and 1950s and Attack on London. He is also an authority on the Jacobite rebellions of 1714 and 1745 and recently published "Sweet William or The Butcher? The Duke of Cumberland and the '45".

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