Cops, Crooks & Coroners
With many of Forgotten Australia’s episodes dealing with crime and criminals, some of my favourite finds on Ancestry.com.au have been official police, gaol and coronial records. While it’s one thing to read of people’s dodgy exploits and/or sad demises in newspapers of the day, there’s something truly fascinating about seeing original handwritten entries in coronial inquest and gaol entrance books. Also rather terrific are the Police Gazettes, which detailed who was wanted for (or convicted of) what, what they looked like and so on. If you’re researching ancestors who you don’t have photos of, such physical descriptions are invaluable for creating a picture of your people.
Norman Brown’s Coronial Record
The Battle For Rothbury episode explored the 1929 lock-out of union workers at the Rothbury coal mine in NSW’s Hunter region — and the tragic riot that resulted in police shooting dead a young man named Norman Brown. Here’s the coroner’s official verdict that records his death as being accidental.
Mad Mossy’s First Gaol Record
The Tracker Riley: Outback Hero episode charted the life and times of Aboriginal tracker Alexander Riley, whose most famous case saw him collect the evidence that’d help convict serial killer Albert Andrew Moss, aka “Mad Mossy”. Here is the record of Moss’s first brush with the law.
Robert Walker’s Rap Sheet
The Australia’s Most Vicious Gunman episode followed the life and crimes of Melbourne-born murderer Robert Walker. Here’s his rap sheet.
Mr White aka Edgar Farrell
The season one episode Mr White & The Walwa Murder Mystery delved into the strange case of Raymond Cyril White, who was suspected of killing both his wife and her sister before killing himself in 1939. One of the strangest aspects of this story was that he’d lived half his life under a fake name and was really Edgar Farrell, naval deserter. Here’s the 1919 record of this desertion, as found in a Police Gazette on Ancestry.
For more records I’ve found on Ancestry.com.au, including my own family history, click here