Bedford Historical Association: Tracing the lives of convicts

Francis Abbott
Convict, astronomer and watchmaker, Francis Abbott

This month’s talk hosted by the Bedford Historical Society (HA) looks at how punishment affected the lives of the 90,000 individuals convicted of crimes at the Old Bailey between 1780 and 1870.

Professor Bob Shoemaker of Sheffield University draws on over four million records on the university’s website to uncover the fate of thousands of convicts.

The website includes those uprooted by the UK criminal justice system to carry out their sentence in the British Empire’s then newly established penal colonies in Australia.

Francis Abbott, pictured, was convicted of fraud in 1844 and transported to Australia where he became a renowned astronomer and successful watchmaker.

Professor Shoemaker said, “This is the first resource of its kind to provide in-depth information on the lives of people convicted of crimes in Britain hundreds of years ago.

“It enables users of the site, whether they be family historians, teachers, crime writers, history students, academic researchers or simply people with an interest in the past, to trace the lives of convicts and uncover how punishments affected them.”

The talk is hosted by the HA (Historical Association) and takes place on Monday 16 March at 7.30 pm at St Peter’s Chapter House, de Parys Avenue, Bedford, MK40 2TX

Free to members of the HA. Others welcome, donation £3
Further details 07989 837819

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