Sunday, October 28, 2007

Find Your Felonious Ancestors

The Old Bailey Proceedings Online makes available a fully searchable, digitised collection of all surviving editions of the Old Bailey Proceedings from 1674 to 1834.

Use the “Name Search” to track down your whoring kin.

Or enter colourful, archaic language into the “Keyword Search” feature.

I’ve highlighted my favourite bits in the sodomy case of George Duffus

George Duffus , was indicted for assaulting and committing in and upon the Body of Nicholas Leader , the unnatural Sin of Sodomy , on the 9th of October last.

Nicholas Leader depos'd, that being at a Meeting house in Old Gravel lane, the prisoner, after Service was ended, came to him, and seeming very religious, began some Discourse in commendation of the Minister, and of what he had then preach'd; by which means (3 or 4 Sundays successively) he insinuated himself into the good Opinion of the Prosecutor, and invited him to drink with him at Mr. Powels, in the Minories; when he askt this Evidence where he might hear of him another time; who told him, at the 3 merry Potters, at the Hermitage. That then the prisoner promis'd he'd come and see him the first opportunity, which in a few Days he performed. The prisoner staying late with the Prosecutor, and telling him he lived a great way off, desired the Prosecutor to let him lie with him that Night, which he granted. After they had been in Bed a little while, the Prisoner began to kiss and embrace the Prosecutor, thrust his Tongue in his Mouth, called him his dear Friend, and got on his Back; but the Prosecutor resisting, threw him off 3 or 4 times, telling him if he would not be still, he'd turn him out of Bed. The prisoner then seizing the Prosecutor by the Throat almost strangled him, turned him on his Face, and forcibly entred his Body about an Inch; but the Prosecutor still strugling, threw off the prisoner once more, and prevented the prisoner from making an Emissio Seminis in his Body; but having thus forced the prisoner to withdraw, he (the prisoner) emitted in his own Hand, clapping it on the tail of the Prosecutor's Shirt. Saying, Now you have it! That he had then turned the prisoner out of Doors, but for fear of disturbing his ancient Grandmother, who lay Ill in the next Room. That the prisoner told him next Morning, he need not be so concerned at what he had done to him, for he had done the same to several others, naming in particular a Cabbin Boy. That the Prosecutor got a Warrant from Justice Tiller, and went with it the next Sunday Morning to the Meeting aforesaid, where the Constable whispering to the Prosecutor, and afterwards going to the prisoner, and sitting down by him, the prisoner being conscious of Guilt, and suspecting some Design, immediately took his Hat and went out, and they followed him, which he seeing, began to run; but they pursuing, and crying out stop him. soon overtook him and carried him before the Justice. The prisoner cry'd, entreated for Mercy, and begg'd they would not expose him to open shame; adding, they were all Sinners, and it was hard for a Man to suffer for the first Fault.
Mr. Powel depos'd, that he first saw the prisoner at a Lecture, which was no sooner over, but the prisoner coming to him, with a very devout Face, began his Discourse with some lavish Encomiums on what the Preacher had just delivered in his Sermon; telling this Evidence he should be glad to drink with him any other time, but it being the Lord's Day, he (having a very tender and scrupulous Conscience) did not care to go into a Publick house. Upon this they made an Agreement to meet as this Evidence's Father's House (in the Minories) on the 12th of Oct. last, where, after some Religious Discourse, the prisoner laid that his Wife was gone out of Town, and he having a pretty way home, desired to lie with him; which this Deponent (taking the prisoner to be really a sanctified Member) agreed to. They had not been long in Bed, before the prisoner began to kiss this Evidence, and take hold of his Privities, saying, How lean you be!Do but feel how fat I am? and then convey'd this Deponent's Hand to his (the Prisoner's) Secrets. Soon after (as the Deponent was lying on his Back) the prisoner got on him, and keeping him down, thrust his Penis betwixt the Deponent's Thighs, and there emitted. He afterwards told this Deponent he need not be troubled, or wonder at what he had done to him, for it was what was very common, and he had often practised it with many others; at the same time desiring the Deponent to act the same with him, but he refused, replying, he was a stranger to all such Practices and telling him, if he had known before, what sort of a Man he had been, he would not have lain in the same Bed with him. The Spermatick Injection not being proved, the Court directed the Jury to bring in their Verdict Special .

I can’t help but think that the George Duffus case described above involved the ancestors of Piggy and Smunty the Cabin Boy.

So go on now. Look up your own thieving ancestors. Or just find us some lively language in the proceedings and report back.


  1. I'm too revolted by the Piggy and Tazzy video post to read all that text


  2. Anyone with my surname got transported to Australia.

    Imagine the shame of being transported to Canada?

  3. CYBERHOOR: That's why I highlighted the best bits.

    So you wouldn't have to read all the text.

    SID: Your ancestors were transported to a penis colony?

  4. My ancestors, at least people with the same surname, were all tried for theft and/or grand larceny. One was a juror.

    Tatas' ancestors were mainly tried for animal theft, no surprises. A couple of murderers and pickpockets too.

  5. My ancestors all died before they could do anything more interesting than reproduce. What a bummer!

  6. CONNIE: What? No whoremongering?

    You and Tatas are a match made in Hell.

    PRU: But surely they were guilty of fashion crimes.

  7. Why thanks MJ.

    That's why we get on so well ya bitch.

    *looks for a pocket to pick*

  8. Forgers, perjurers, sheep stealers.

    No brothel keepers alas. My namesakes were fine upstanding folk like me.

  9. None of my family are listed - We were obviously far too clever to be caught. I mean, we were obviously innocent of any crimes. Just like this poor soul.

    Trial on 01 Jun 1682

    Jane Kent, a Woman of about 60 years of Age, was Indicted for Witch-Craft, and using several Diabolick Arts, whereby she compassed the death of one Elizabeth Chamblet , a Girl about 5 years of Age; the Father of the deceased gave Evidence, that she first Bewitched his Swine , by reason she having bargained with him for two Pigs, which he refused to deliver her without Money; and that a while after his Daughter fell into a most piteous Condition, Swelling all over her Body, which
    See original was discoloured after a strange rate. He farther deposed, that she also Bewitched his Wife, and that after the death of his Daughter, he went to one Dr. Hainks in Spittle-Fields, who advised him to take a quart of his Wives water, the pairing of her Nails, some of her Hair, and such like, and boyl them, which he did, in a Pipkin, at which time he Swore he heard the Prisoners voice at his door, and that she Screimed out as if she were Murdered, and that the next day she appeared to be much swelled and bloated: A Woman that searched her likewise Swore, that she had a Teat on her back, and unusual Holes behind her ears: A Coach-man likewise Swore, that upon his refusing to carry her and her Goods, his Coach overthrew; but she producing Evidence that she had lived honestly, and was a great pains-taker, and that she went to Church, with many other Circumstances, the Jury found her not Guilty.

  10. TATAS: You and Connie are the British Bonnie and Clyde.

    GARFY: They have ways of dealing with your kind in this day and age.

    IVD: Swine bewitchers?

    Put a spell on Piggy!

    Do you have a teat on your back? Or just that one where your penis is supposed to be?

  11. turns out my ex-mother-in-laws family were notorious stealers of stoneware mugs. honest to god, like they were trying to furnish a dorm room or something...'thevery of sevral stone mugges numbering three' 'theivery, a stone mug' theivery of two stone muges'...

    off to dig up more dirt!!

  12. FN: The lowest form of criminal activity...

    Crockery theft.

  13. I suppose it could be fancy crockery

    oh who am I kidding there is no such thing

  14. Before the internet and telly people had to get their kicks somehow. I have to say though that these lads were asking for it. I mean if you allow a man to share your bed is that not something of a mixed signal?

  15. CYBERPOOF: Fancy crockery like my orange plate.

    WARING: Have you been sending mixed signals to Knudsen?

    Doesn't the poor bugger have enough problems as it is fighting spammers?

    Besides, what you and Knudsie have is special. It's not ghey if you both go home to your weemen in the morning.