Capital Punishment and Pardon at the Old Bailey, 1730-1837

This site enables you to make comparative searches amongst the 9,481 men, women and children who were sentenced to death at London’s Old Bailey courthouse between 1730 and 1837. During these years, execution was prescribed for virtually all serious crimes throughout the western world, but London was (by far) the largest single jurisdiction in which that sentence was deployed. However, the royal power of pardon was often used to substitute a non-capital punishment in place of hanging.

The information in this dataset was derived from a systematic review of more than 1,300 volumes and boxes of documents housed in nine different archives, hundreds of issues of contemporary newspapers, and more than fifty published editions of documents. This dataset can be used to generate detailed numerical comparisons amongst London’s capital convicts with regard to their age, gender, crime, judge and/or jury, the various respite and pardon procedures to which each convict might be subjected, and their final disposition (execution or conditional pardon). In many instances, the records of individual convicts also contain references to additional documents, as well as a variety of other relevant publications. In virtually every case, these individual records also contain hyperlinks to textual material reproduced on the “Old Bailey Online (Proceedings at the Old Bailey, 1674-1913)” website.

This dataset is affiliated with “The Digital Panopticon: The Global Impact of London Punishments, 1780-1925”, with which much of the material assembled here is shared under contract.

Suggestions and corrections will be gratefully received by and duly acknowledged on this website.