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Your family’s criminal past

Blackpool in the 19th Century.

Blackpool in the 19th Century.

IF YOU went to jail back in the 19th Century, then there is a good chance you might have been behind bars for larceny.

The crime, wrongfully acquiring another person’s property, has been abolished now, but back in the 18th and 19th centuries it was one of the most-committed on the Fylde coast.

And it carried a hefty prison term, with Blackpool woman Ellen Heatoch jailed for seven years for grand larceny back in 1824.

The details of her offence - and the crimes of hundreds of other villains from across the resort - have come to light after a joint project by the National Archives and family history website findmypast.co.uk published historic criminal records online for the first time.

Alongside larceny, the top five crimes recorded being committed are burglary, felony, manslaughter and assault.

The new records date between 1700 and 1934, and also show at the turn of the 19th Century, in 1819, Mary Thomas, from Blackpool, was ordered to serve 14 years in jail for receiving stolen goods.

Debra Chatfield, a family historian from findmypast.co.uk, told The Gazette: “The criminal records sets we have released today cover a wide variety of crimes in Blackpool and throughout Lancashire.

“From receiving stolen goods, to burglary and grand larceny, the records provide a colourful and fascinating look back at history covering 1700-1934.

“These records, which contain details of villains and victims are a great resource for people interested in family history, and for those interested in tracing social history, trends of which can often be reflected in how our justice system operated.”

And as well as information about the crimes the online records also contain mugshots, court documents, appeal letters and examples of early Edwardian ASBOs - where habitual drunks were banned from pubs and entertainment venues.

Paul Carter, principle modern domestic records specialist at The National Archives added: “These records span several government series and show the evolution of the criminal justice system in the 19th Century as the country dealt with the impact of industrialisation, urbanisation and population growth.”

Access the records is at www.familyhistory.co.uk.

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