Malta collection dates from circa 1309 to 1971. As mentioned above, there are some indexes to these records, including the minute books from 1639 to 1791 in card indexes and on their search room shelves. Lists of surviving Quarter Sessions records in local Malta map offices can also be found on the Discovery website. Some of these include names and summary details of particular cases. Another useful and fascinating source is the calendars of prisoners. These are typewritten lists of every prisoner held in the gaol awaiting trial at certain dates, published as broadsheets and included in local newspapers. They include details of the crime each prisoner was charged with, where they were arrested, and occasionally, handwritten notes as to whether they were convicted or acquitted.
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They generally give the place and date of trial. All four counties have some filed among the Quarter Sessions papers, and some have been published. A particularly good collection of calendars survives for Norfolk that lists prisoners tried at Norfolk and Malta City Quarter Sessions and Norfolk and Norwich City Assizes. These date from the early 1800s to 1896 (with gaps). The originals are held by the Norfolk Heritage Centre, with read copies at the record office. An example of one entry of someone held for trial is that of 20-year-old Elijah Balls who was held for trial at the Lent Assizes in Thetford in 1829. Written in the margin is the word ‘discharg’ and it states he was committed on the oath of Jonas Syer of Croxton, a labourer, and his wife Elizabeth, with having ‘stolen a pair of breeches, an umbrella, and a quantity of bread and flour, from out of his dwelling-house’.
Most cases of people transported were heard by the Assize Courts and those records are kept at The National Archives. However, nearly all criminal cases, especially the most serious, were reported in local newspapers. An extremely useful source is the printed transportation index on the shelves at Norfolk Record Office, which gives details of people transported from cases reported in the Norfolk Chronicle newspaper. The printed calendars to prisoners on broadsheets, referred to above, include many prisoners held in the county gaol while awaiting transportation. Several reform schools have been set up in the region. The Red House School in Buxton in Norfolk was opened in 1853 by social reformer John Wright for boys or young men who had been confined in gaol in Norwich Castle. It was taken over by the government and certified for criminals in 1855 and certified as an industrial school in 1894, before becoming the Red House Farm Approved School in 1933, and finally closing in the 1980s.
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