People researching their family history in Plymouth, England are now being offered the chance to find out if there were any felons in the family. The Plymouth and West Devon Record Office now has the records for Plymouth Prison, which used to occupy a site on Greenbank, next to the Workhouse.
The prison, which was built in 1849, housed 81 male and female prisoners. It closed in 1930, and the prisoners were transferred to Exeter Prison. Only the tower remains near the fire station.
The records contain extensive information that includes each prisoner's age, occupation, address, height, eye color, sentence, religion, and birthplace. There are registers of male prisoners dating back from 1867 until 1930, a register of women prisoners from 1915 to 1922, and an index of male and female prisoners from 1911 to 1929. There is also a register of Plymouth prison officers from the late 19th century until 1926, visiting committee minutes, and inspection reports.
Archivist Anne Morgan said: "These documents are a fascinating social history. "There are a lot of women who were imprisoned for soliciting or refusing to look after their children. There were also some very petty offences committed by children such as stealing washing from lines, which led to them spending a few days inside."
The Plymouth and West Devon Record Office in Clare Place is open from 0930 GMT to 1700 GMT from Tuesday to Thursday and 0930 GMT until 1600 GMT on Friday. The records are available only in person, not online or on microfilm.