[Ads-l] OT: Old Bailey Online

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Wed Oct 5 00:57:18 EDT 2016

As I mentioned the Old Bailey Online in one of my previous posts, I'd perhaps
better issue a health warning here to anyone who is thinking of using it.

It's an incredibly useful resource for both historians and linguists, especially
as it's both accessible searchable.  But it also has serious problems, and

Some of the limitations are systemic -- the remit of the site is to reprint
accounts of Old Bailey Sessions trials which report on multiple defendants,
together with the Ordinaries' Accounts.  As a matter of policy, it omits things
like Admiralty Court trials (also held at the Old Bailey, and thus no pirates,
unless they finally come under the Ordinary's tender care) and State trials, as
well as trials held at other locations.  This is worth keeping in mind.

While after probably 1725, it's pretty comprehensive in picking up printed
reports which fall within its remit, for the period 1673-1699, it's sporadic --
at the worst, it misses as many trial accounts as it transcribes, and it's worth
remembering that in that period, there would often be more than one report
issued.  In a couple of cases I've come across, OBO gives both, but not

Again, this is worth keeping in mind, and probably more of a concern for
historians than linguists.

All that aside, and for anyone who hasn't visited it, it's an incredible site,
full of fascinating material, even for a non-specialist.  I find the report of
John Hall, tried and hung in 1707, especially delightful.  As an example of
comic ineptitude, Jack Hall and his mates took some beating.  He was luckier
than he deserved to be reincarnated as Sam Hall of damn-you-eyes fame.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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