Investigating British historic murder and serious criminal cases.
I have been researching and writing about British murders for a great many years before and after the development of the internet. Of course no one case is ever the same – each one is distinctive. Murder Research is a unique investigation service established on-line in 2003. Over the years I have searched, discovered and sometimes written about many old British serious criminal cases covering the period 1750 to 1950.
I also conduct family history research and offer a thorough and robust service (here).
Old murder cases have always received extensive historic news coverage. These time-worn events have left behind a fascinating insight into lives, relationships and communities. The archive and court records attached to each event along with the statements from witnesses are frequently revealing. If your ancestor was a victim or a perpetrator then it is quite likely that you will discover a lot more background information about the person. If you are searching for a witness or someone connected to the crime then it is possible that the coverage will expose some background of the person.
Much the same as today media coverage of these very serious crimes were at times shrouded in editorial sensationalism that in itself is fascinating to read and decipher. The lack of current available technologies used today in comparison with murder cases before 1950 is alarming. Evidence was frequently flimsy and I’m sure that a significant number of the people that were sent to the gallows possibly shouldn’t have received the death sentence.
It’s often said that there is nothing like a good murder to beef up the British press and this was certainly the case during the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian Times. The newspapers and the ‘Penny Dreadfuls’ were full of amazing and overblown stories that thrilled and scared its hungry audience.
Dangerous Justice – Flimsy Evidence
Tragically, behind many historic murder cases lie the shadow of the fall guy. The desperate innocent individual who ultimately died for no reason. A great many people were accused and sent to the gallows on very thin and flimsy evidence. In retrospect many were quite likely wrongly convicted of the crime of murder. Shockingly an equal number could well have escaped trial and the rope as the finger of suspicion was diverted.
Apart from actual witnesses there was, compared to today’s detective work, very little to go by. It wasn’t until much later on that the police could actually tell the difference between animal blood and human blood. The fingerprint process was not developed. As for DNA, that of course that would not appear until well into the future.
In many ways our ancestors lived through what was perhaps a more dangerous and more crime ridden time than today. Murder, or death in suspicious circumstances, was fairly commonplace. You can actually see by reading the newspapers how much violent crime there was. Some of it very well reported to almost iconic status, and much of it quite under covered. Here at Murder Research I am looking into not only the high profile cases but also those that received lesser coverage.