Murder cases have always received extensive newspaper coverage.

To find out what happened you can get the facts, reports, statements and read the court proceedings as events unfolded all those years ago in the newspapers.  If your ancestor was a victim or a perpetrator the old news reports will reveal substantial information about the person and the case.

Please use the form on the right and find your ancestor in the news.

These dramatic time-worn incidents have left behind a fascinating insight, revealing the facts as they came to light at the time. Exposing those involved and the background of the events surrounding it.

Murder Research

Illustrated Police News – Saturday 09 July 1892 (“Armed burglars, murder of a policeman near Carlisle” – November 1885)

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.

Victorian Murders in England and Wales (from Coroner’s Inquests):

1856: 205 1868: 261 1880: 157 1890: 148
1857: 184 1869: 265 1881: 193 1891: 155
1858: 183 1870: 222 1882: 176 1892:
1859: 204 1871: 226 1883: 177 1893: 170
1860: 268 1872: 257 1884: 192 1894: 157
1861: 210 1873: 223 1885: 158 1895: 152
1862: 221 1874: 223 1886: 177 1896: 183
1863: 270 1875: 223 1887: 196 1897:
1864: 246 1876: 200 1888: 190 1898: 169
1865: 226 1877: 199 1889: 167 1899 142
1866: 272 1878: 176 1900: 145
1867: 255 1879: 153 1901: 208
1856-1867: 2744 1868-1879: 2628 1880-1889: 1783 1890-1901: 1629
1856-1901: 8784
Murder Research

Illustrated Police News – Saturday 13 May 1893

Murder Research

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.

Illustrated Police News - October 21 1893

Illustrated Police News – October 21 1893

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.

Staffordshire Advertiser - Saturday 09 November 1799

Staffordshire Advertiser – Saturday 09 November 1799

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.