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Name Search

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey

Search by: Keyword , Name , Place and Map Search , Crime, Verdict and Punishment , Advanced Search , Browse by Date , Statistics , Reference Number , Associated Records or Manuscripts and Ordinary's Accounts Keyword

Fill in at least one of the boxes provided. Detailed help associated with each of the categories of information is provided below. To search for names in the manuscript sessions papers and Ordinary's Accounts use the separate Manuscript Sessions Papers and Ordinary's Accounts Keyword Search page.

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Name Search Help

Surname, Given Name, and Aliases

Most names in the Proceedings have been separately tagged and indexed. Tags, normally hidden from the reader, indicate forenames and surnames, aliases, occupation and status labels (labourer, baker or gentlemen), gender and "type of person" (victim, defendant, etc.). Depending on how much information you possess you can create both narrow and wide searches using the template above.

A typical trial might begin like this:

499. James Newbold, alias Newcomb, of St Giles Cripplegate, Porter, was indicted, for that he on the 13th of June, and at other Days and Times since, in the Parish of St Brides, did keep a disorderly House...

To locate James Newbold one can use one or all of the search categories available in the template above. Surname and Given Name are self explanatory, but it should be remembered that eighteenth-century spelling was at best erratic, and that Given Names were often shortened. Elizabeth, for instance, could be shortened to Liz or Bet, Beth or Betty, Izzy, Lizzy, Let or Letty, just to name a few possiblities. You can use query operators and wildcards to widen your search to accommodate variant spellings. Because some person names were missed by the automated mark-up programme, a keyword search of the whole text may produce more results than a name search.

Aliases are frequently given for defendants in the Proceedings. They can be treated in the same way as Surname.

Occupation and Status

Occupation and status labels given to defendants and victims can be searched for separately by using the occupation/status box on this form. If you wish to search for every instance of a particular label in the entire text, you should conduct a keyword search.

The eighteenth century was heir to a wealth of occupational and status labels, many of which were overlapping and uncertain. Being a "porter" was relatively unproblematic, but an alehouse keeper, for instance, might be described as a "victualler", or a keeper of a "public house" or indeed a "publick house". They might be described as the "keeper of the Rose and Crown", or simply as an "inn keeper". The "list occupations" button will give you access to an alphabetical list of all the occupation/status labels that have been marked up in the Proceedings. Type in the terms exactly as they appear on the list. Alternatively, you may wish to use query operators and/or wildcards to widen your search to accommodate variant spellings and alternative terms.

Query Operators

Query Operators allow you to both widen and narrow your searches and are available here to use in relation to Surname.

  • Exact:
    Selecting Exact - the default setting - will allow you to search on a precise text string. So entering "Smith" will result in trials involving people with this surname, but will not create results for people named "Smithson" or "Smithe".
  • Contains:
    Selecting Contains allows you to search for letter strings within words. If you were to type laugh, for instance, text containing words such as "McLaughlin" would be selected. This is particularly useful when searching for different forms of the same name, and for alternative spellings.
  • Or:
    Selecting Or allows you to include more than one word, or alternative spelling in your query. If you typed Smith Smyth Smithe Smythe, leaving the Or button clicked from the Query Operators, texts containing all four variant spellings would be produced. This is particularly useful given the variable and frequently haphazard nature of eighteenth-century spelling.

Wildcards: "_" and "%"

  • _:
    The underline, _ , acts as a single character wildcard. So by using the query text sm_th, you will get results that include both Smith and Smyth.
  • %:
    The percent sign, % , acts as a multi-character wildcard, producing results that have either no character in the position of the percent sign, or else several. So the query text sm%th will produce results that include smith, smyth, smooth, smalltooth and smallheath.

These two wildcards can be used in combination to create more complex queries. You could, for instance search on sm_th% in order to locate trials involving people with names such as smithson or smythsoon, or smithfield.

Search In:

This allows you to indicate the specific element of the text of the Proceedings you wish to search for a name. To search the Proceedings you need to choose which part of the text you want to query from the menu in the Search In box. (The default setting is that the search will be conducted on 'all text'.) A variety of elements from the Proceedings have been individually tagged and names generally appear in the following:

  • Front matter: including the title and date of the sessions, names of the lord mayor and judges, and lists of jurymen.

  • Trials: the text of the actual trial acounts. The length and amount of detail provided changes significantly over time.

  • Supplementary trial material: including details on punishment and post-trial treatment of the accused.

  • Punishment summaries: lists of punishments imposed on those found guilty, provided at the end of many early editions of the Proceedings.

  • Advertisements: includes commercial advertisements normally found on the last page of the Proceedings.

See About this Project for a description of the methodology behind the creation of these tags.

Gender and Type of Person:

A gender has been ascribed to almost every name that appears in the Proceedings, limiting your search to one sex or the other will substantially increase the accuracy of your results. The category 'unclassified' includes cases with multiple defendants or victims where these include both men and women, cases where it was not possible to determine the gender of the participant, and where the defendant or victim was an institution such as the Bank of England.

Besides a gender many names have also been assigned to a category of Type of Person. These categories include Victim, Defendant, Juror and Judge. The default setting is All Persons (which includes those persons--witnesses, lawyers, etc.--who were not assigned a category).

From/To month/year

You may select a beginning and terminal month and year for your query. These are the dates when meetings of the court ('Sessions') took place. The court met eight times a year, but because the months in which the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Sessions of the year took place varied slightly from year to year, some combinations of months are provided, e.g. 'February/March'.

If you select 'June/July' from the drop down menu, and enter 1730 in the box provided in the From Month/Year line, and enter 'October' and 1740 in the To Month/Year line, you will restrict your calculation to cases from Sessions that took place between these dates. Leaving <Any> in the 'From' or 'To' month box will generate results for every month in the specified years.

Please note that Old Style dates have been modernised to allow the year to begin on 1 January, and that where a Session takes place over two months (i.e. 31 October, 1 and 2 November) the first day of the Session has been used to calculate that Sessions position.

Editions of the Proceedings do not survive for approximately one third of the sessions between 1674 and 1714, so some searches may produce few or no results. In particular, there are relatively few sessions between 1699 and 1714. To see which sessions are included on this website, use the Browse by date search page.

Useful Family History Internet Sites


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