Crime, Court and Police Newspapers – The British Newspaper Archive Blog

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Crime, Court and Police Newspapers

Crime stories have filled newspapers since the seventeenth century.  From sensational murders to notices seeking the return of stolen property, you will find stories relating to crime in all of our newspapers.

While crime-related news can be found in almost every title, we do hold several newspapers dedicated to crime and punishment.

Title Years
County Courts Chronicle 1847-1870, 1885-1896
Illustrated Police Budget 1899
Illustrated Police News 1867-1874, 1876-1890, 1892-1938
Police Gazette 1773-1776, 1829, 1858, 1880, 1898, 1916-1918
Poor Law Unions’ Gazette 1857-1865, 1868-1903

 

Illustrated Police News | 16 July 1892

The Illustrated Police News, founded in 1864, was the first, and longest-lasting, Saturday penny newspaper that combined two hugely popular Victorian genres: the police newspaper and the illustrated journal. Its founder, George Purkess, was a London publisher who already specialised in the publication of cheap ‘true stories’ of crime, accidents, and domestic disaster. The subject matter of his newspaper was very similar. It collated sensational or unusual stories, often drawn from the London Police Courts, but also reported mishaps from elsewhere in Britain and the world. While repeatedly emphasising the ‘true’ nature of the stories, it was their entertainment and curiosity value that was crucial to the success of the paper. This was underscored by the paper’s front pages, which consisted largely of artists’ impressions of these events combined with attention-grabbing headlines.

Poor Law Unions’ Gazette | 4 January 1890

Founded in 1856 and running until 1903, Poor Law Unions’ Gazette is particularly useful to family historians as it published information on paupers from all over the country who deserted their wives and families, leaving them chargeable to the Poor Law Unions. Since the authorities did not wish to be saddled with the responsibility for providing for such families, they issued descriptions of the deserters to facilitate their apprehension, some of which are very detailed and colourful. Information on the person’s last known employment and whereabouts can also be included.

 

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