Murder Research – Historic British Cases

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.

Murder Research

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

Through printed news reports 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.

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.

Click play and see how old newspapers can enhance your research.

Murder Research

Murder ResearchMuch 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 – they were quite likely wrongly convicted 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 some quite under covered.  Here at Murder Research I am looking into not only the high profile cases but also those that received lesser coverage.

Ian Waugh
Murder Research