Family History

Were the black sheep in your family once part of our flock? See whether you can trace yourself back to a York Castle prisoner.

Our database lists almost 5000 convicted criminals, imprisoned debtors and victims of crime, mostly from the 1700s. The list is not complete, so see our factsheet for tips on how to track down any missing prisoners.

Give it a try - it'd be criminal not to!

How to search

You can search under any name, keyword or phrase, such as: Martha Chapel, Turpin, Leeds, murder or horse stealing. The search is not case sensitive. People’s names have been entered with the different spellings and aliases that appear for them in the documentation.

This will not cover all the possible variations, so do try common alternatives, such as Dealtry for Daltry, or Helliwell for Halliwell. The format is personal name followed by surname with no punctuation in between, eg, Mary Bateman, not Bateman, Mary.

Place names, where identifiable, have been modernised, eg, Felixkirk for Filliskirk. Assume the old county of Yorkshire unless specified otherwise.

Please note that York Castle Museum does not hold any original records relating to former prisoners at the Castle and staff at the Museum cannot offer any more information than that given here.

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