Well, something's bringing out criminals in my tree .....
I was furkling about, following the life of Thomas Pates .... born 1827 in Biggleswade, married Jane Hawkins in 1851 and begat seven children. They moved to Wellingborough in the early 1870s and John changed from being an ag lab to a shepherd. So far, so very ordinary.
Then, noting his absence from the 1881 census, I looked for his death prior to that and there it was in 1878. Idly thinking "he's quite young at 51", I returned to the main Ancestry page, to see that there was an entry in the England and Wales Criminal Registers Index. In 1878.
Sharp intake of breath. Surely not a black cap moment in court? Not a murderer?
Well, no, actually ... turns out he was up for larceny. A bog-standard tea leaf. Not sure whether I was disappointed or relieved!
But he never made it to trial:
"Evidence given that prisoner died since committal. Costs of prosecution ordered to be paid and recognisances of prosecutor and witnesses discharged."
Are we looking at a death in custody? Don't think I'll be claiming against the constabulary - they'll probably charge me the prosecution costs!