View Full Version : Reason for Gaol Sentence

26-10-2007, 2:47 AM
For some years I have been trying to establish why one of my relatives was in Durham County Gaol. What I do know is this:
- Mary Mushens gave birth James Mushens on 31 July 1856 and her husband George is named as the father (from birth cert)
- in 1851 she lived at 25 Robinsons Lane, Sunderland
- in 1861 she was living in Catherine Street, Deptford.

So it would seem the earliest she would have been incarcerated would have been November 1855.

My reading tells me that there are various court records available, however, without having any idea of her crime I do not know which ones - Azzize or Quarter Sessions.

It has been suggested that local newspapers may be the best bet. However, I do not know which newspapers would have been likely to cover the story.

To add to my frustrations, I am in Australia and therefore cannot check out the various avenues myself.

I wonder whether any reader could point me in the right direction?



26-10-2007, 3:00 AM
I found nothing in the Digital Times or in google books which typically turns up court records. :-(

perhaps another will have better luck.


26-10-2007, 4:03 AM
Hi there,

there are a couple of sites which may help;



The first is the Durham record office, the Quarter session records they have seem to go from 1857. The second is a very informative site intended for schools, but lots of detail about life in Durham gaol, also an Archives section, which may turn up something. Good Luck!

regards birdlip

26-10-2007, 2:26 PM
Presumably you have him if the 1861 Census as an imate? Find out if the County prison was a long term or short term prison. He may have been a repeat offender and may not have been in prison from Novemberish 1855. He could have been serving days or weeks. If the prison is a long term prison, anyone getting a 5 year plus sentence would probably warrant a few lines in the paper. Court made be held at the County Record Office. If you go down that route and he was a long term prisoner I would start with (if available) the Assize court records.


26-10-2007, 3:14 PM
Some Court Records for Sunderland are held at Tyne and Wear Archives Service, it might be worth taking a look at their catalogue. Of course if the case went to the Crown Court that was in Newcastle, again many of the records are held by TWAS.


31-10-2007, 10:24 AM
Thanks to all those who took the time and trouble to respond.