Peter Wilson Coldham is a prolific genealogy author. He was born in England, studied in Rome, England, and Scotland, and entered a Roman Catholic seminary in 1940. Before completing his studies, he joined the Royal Navy in World War II and served in Australia and China. After the war he was employed at the Foreign Office in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, for a while, then later in London.
He retired from public service in 1986 to devote more time to historical and genealogical research and to writing. Since then, he has published many books, often focusing on Colonial-era English emigrants to the United States. He also has published extensive lists of Loyalist claims for compensation between 1775 and 1800, as well as summaries of their biographies.
In recognition of his work, Coldham has received the prestigious Bickersteth Medal as well as a Fellowship from the American Society of Genealogists. His current projects include a transcription of the many hundred passenger lists of emigrants to the United States of America from England, Scotland, and Ireland for the year 1890.
Peter Wilson Coldham earlier published a book entitled The Complete Book of Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1775 and then followed that with the Supplement to The Complete Book of Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1775. He has now totally revamped the work and added many new records. His latest effort is entitled British Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1788. This book represents thirty years of research, covering 45,000 emigrants. Like several other recent releases from its publisher, Genealogical Publishing, British Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1788 is being released as a CD-ROM disk. I had a chance to review the disk this week.
As the title suggests, this CD is about men and women who were involuntarily transported from Great Britain and Ireland for crimes ranging from bigamy to highway robbery and who comprised much of the population of colonial Virginia and Maryland. Peter Wilson Coldham has abstracted every surviving record, recording the names and histories of all those sentenced in England and Ireland to be transported to America for their alleged crimes. This CD supersedes all of Mr. Coldham's previous work on the subject. He also has included a history of the British transportation system, a description of the records used in this work, and a complete list of convict ships that sailed to America between 1671 and 1788. In addition to Coldham's own research, this CD also contains a separate section, entitled "Irish Transported Felons and Runaways." This was contributed by many of the best-qualified American historians and genealogists who generously agreed to the use of their published and unpublished work.
Using this CD on a Windows or Macintosh system is easy: insert the disk, and follow the instructions that appear on the screen.The screen appears to be an "electronic book" and is easy to navigate. British Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1788 is produced in Adobe Acrobat, a good choice in my opinion.
This "book on a CD" is arranged in a logical manner. It starts with a Table of Contents, followed by an Introduction. The following are "chapters" within the book:
- British Convicts Transported to America
- Irish Felons and Runaways in America
- Convict Ships to America 1671-1788
- Select Bibliography and Sources
I found the search function worked well. Not only can you search for names, but you also can search for any word in the book. For instance, you can easily find all the felons listed as being transported on the ship Hibernia or all those convicted of bigamy.
The information is arranged alphabetically by names with most individuals listed as a single line. For instance, here is the only entry for a person of my last name:
Eastman, Edward. S Apr-May T Jul 1771 Scarsdale. M.
A quick check of the abbreviations listed in the front of the book decodes that single line to this:
Edward Eastman was sentenced in Middlesex, England, to transportation (forced exile to the New World) in the April-May 1771 court session. He was transported in July 1771 on board the Scarsdale.
A quick check in the Convict Ships to America 1671-1788 chapter shows that the Scarsdale sailed in July 1771 under the command of Christopher Reed from London to Virginia with 169 felons on board.
The above information required less than five minutes to locate and decode, starting with the insertion of the CD into the computer. I now know the name of the immigrant, the dates involved, his origin of Middlesex, and that he was transported to Virginia.
Other records on this CD often will list additional information about the person, including the parish of origin, occupation or status (married, widow, etc.), and the offence. While Edward Eastman's information was very brief, here are a few examples showing more detailed listings:
Eddings, Simon from Northhamptonshire. Sentenced to transportation for deer poaching in Whittlewood Forest and assaulting keepers, summer of 1765.
Abbott, Mary, wife of John of Middlesex. Sentenced to 14 years Apr 1773 but pardoned May 1773.
Finn, John. Sentenced to transportation for stealing shoes in Dublin, Ireland Nov 1764. He is later listed as a runaway who had been "imported last June from Dublin, aged 20, from Mordecai Hammond of BA Co, MD, Sep 1765."
Finn, Patrick. Sentenced at Quarter Sessions in Dublin in the summer 1739. He was transported on the Hibernia Mar 1741 and then sold to Nicholas George in Maryland in Feb 1742.
Glover, John of Gloucestershire. Sentenced at Quarter Sessions in Bristol for stealing a silver tankard Dec 1764.
This CD represents the best of genealogy information: original records extracted by one of the world's experts in the topic, arranged on disk in a manner that makes the information easy to find. I suspect this CD-ROM will sell well. If you can trace your ancestry back to colonial Virginia or Maryland, you may find information about your ancestors on this disk.
The British Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1788 CD-ROM requires one of the following:
Windows 98SE, ME, NT4 (Service Pack 5 or 6), 2000, or XP; 64 megabytes of RAM memory and 70 megabytes of available hard disk space.
Macintosh Classic: PowerPC® processor; Apple® Mac OS 8.6, 9.0.4, 9.1, or OS X 10.0.4; megabytes of RAM memory; and, 40 megabytes of available hard disk space.
Macintosh OS X 10.2.2 or higher: PowerPC® G3 or later processor; Apple® Mac OS X 10.2.2, 10.2.4 or higher; megabytes of RAM memory; and, 70 megabytes of available hard drive space.
Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed to access this CD.
While Genealogical Publishing only advertises the disk as designed for Windows and Macintosh systems, I was also able to use it on a Linux computer.
British Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1788 sells for $29.99 plus applicable taxes and shipping. You should be able to purchase it at any bookstore if you specify ISBN#: 0806398523. You can also order it online directly from the publisher's safe and secure web site.