Originally authored by Kelly Godfrey, Ancestry.co.uk

Piracy was rife off England’s south coast right up into the 18th century. Dorset’s coves, caves and sandy beaches were the perfect hiding place for buccaneers and brigands and their ill-gotten loot. That means you stand a good chance of spotting these seadogs in our three new criminal collections.

Whether your family’s black sheep committed their crimes on land or sea, our Calendars of Prisoners, 1854-1945, take you back to their trials – and often include detailed accounts of their offences. Then our Transportation Records, 1730-1842, and Prison Admission and Discharge Registers, 1782–1901, let you uncover how they coped with their punishment.

But our new records aren’t all about burglars and bandits. There’s plenty of opportunity to learn about ordinary law-abiding folk as well – and gain a rare insight into their everyday lives.

Our Jury Lists, 1719–1922, reveal the very people who upheld the law, and our Militia Records, 1757–1860, remember those who defended the community

Also new are Vagrant Passes, 1739-1791 which contain documents related to people accused of vagrancy and the Alehouse Licence Records, 1754-1821 detailing publicans in the Dorset area.

If you make any new discoveries in these records, let us know on our Facebook Wall.

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