About

Hello, I’m Jill Evans, and here are a few details about me:

I was born in County Durham, and spent most of my childhood in Darlington. Having messed up my A-levels, I flitted about for a while, living in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Buckinghamshire, London and Newent in Gloucestershire. I worked at various theatres including at the Barbican for the Royal Shakespeare Company (nothing glamorous – office and front-of-house stuff). I also worked at a museum in Newent, and later for a brief spell at Gloucestershire Archives in Gloucester. In 1988, I became a (supposedly) mature student of history at the University of Kent in Canterbury. I came back to Newent in 1992, where I have lived ever since.

I became interested in crime history when I took a course on the subject as part of a Master of Arts degree in History, which I did with the Open University. I wrote my dissertation on `Female Offenders in Gloucestershire, 1750-1850.’

In 2002, I started up my own small business as a professional family history researcher, doing research at Gloucestershire Archives for people who could not do the work themselves. I continued to research crime in Gloucestershire in my spare time.

In 2010, I was given the opportunity to write a book for The History Press, called Hanged at Gloucester, which was about all the people hanged at Gloucester’s county and city prisons between 1792 and 1939. It was published in 2011. Two more books have followed, The Gloucester Book of Days, published in January 2013, and my latest work, Gloucester Murder and Crime, which came out in September 2013.

For more details on my publications, look at my BOOKS page.

I am currently researching the history of Gloucester Prison, with a view to getting a book written and published in the future.

22 thoughts on “About

  1. Hello Jill,

    What an interesting website… this is one that I’ll come back to again and again. Actually, I stumbled upon it after doing some research for a friend of mine who lives here in Gibraltar/Spain area. I’m doing his family history and one of his forbears was a Richard Hill, a footman/servant living with his ‘wife’ Maria (they never married because she was already married to a chap in Poole, Dorset – and thereby hangs a tale!). They had 3 children, Richard Hill born in Cheltenham in 1826, William Giles Hill born in Cheltenham in 1829 and Mary Ann born in 1830 in Cheltenham. The youngest child, Mary died a few years after giving birth to a Maria Hosier Jackson Hill! The middle child, William, went on to become a poulterer and ended his life in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire in 1903. However, the oldest son, Richard, seems to have been in trouble from the early teens and even gave his father some stolen beef which got his father jailed too (both suffering hard labour) until, finally, in 1843 for the crime of theft, I think, he was sent on a prison ship to Tasmania, via the ‘Justitia’ a prison hulk in Woolwich, where I believe he stayed for the rest of his life in Hobart. I would appreciate any further information you might have on either of the Richard Hills…but I realise that they weren’t ‘high flyers’ in terms of crime and so may not be known to you.

    However, this is a website that I’ll visit again… crime and criminals of the past are always interesting… it must be in the genes as my father was a Manchester City Policeman! Ha! Thanks for all your hard work… fascinating stuff!

    • Hello, thanks for your kind comments! I can’t find anything in my old research notes about Richard Hill, but I’ll let you know if I come across anything in the future.

  2. Dear Jill

    Thank you so very much. I have arisen in the dark and cool of what is our Australian winter and saw your message and my heart leapt with joy to read what you have written. With a hot cup of tea to warm me up and eager eyes, I read your message several times not wanting to miss a single thing.

    I think your pretty special. That you have taken the time with my request, a total stranger, is very much appreciated as is your pointing me into a direction that can help me find out more.

    Family history is so fascinating. I suppose because I am the youngest of my family siblings whose parents were also the youngest by quite some considerable margin, meant that I spent a great deal of time as a child just listening to family stories from much older relatives who were mostly retired and ready to walk down remembering past lives and stories of what was in their youth. That in all probability is where my interest initially began I should imagine. Now I have so many stories to uncover and document for my children to one day read.

    Eliza Newthe is just one more fascinating piece in that great jigsaw puzzle called a family.

    I shall let you know how I get on.

    Kind regards

    Dan

  3. Hello Jill
    Luckily came across your site looking for information about Gloucester. I have never been to Britain so to me its a small pretty rural town here in NSW and was a school house during my primary school years. Like many Australians my family came here in part as convicts or those who guarded them or as free settlers and some even on Irish Bride ship during the famine. Whilst my names are Irish I am a quarter English, quarter Scot, a quarter Irish and the other quarter is half Welsh half Cornish so my ancestry is a good mix of Britain I suppose. One of my ancestors came here from Gloucester. Her name was Elizabeth Newthe (or Eliza North) and she was tried at the Gloucester Assizes in the 1828 and was given 14 years and she sailed on the Lucy Davidson arriving in Sydney November 1829. She soon was married to another former convict called Thomas Clark. They eventually made their way to a place near present day Goulburn where they settled taking up a land grant. I know nothing of her what she did or even what life was like for women back then in Gloucester – can you help me please. I can tell you that she had quite a few children and one married an Irishman called Lawler and he rode with the infamous Clark Gang who were notorious bushrangers and murderers. They were captured and hung. One of their daughters was my great grandmother who when she died in 1922 was called the Poor Peoples Friend such was her humanitarian work with those in need. She herself was a single mother at just 15, had already lost her mother, was caring for her younger siblings and her infant daughter (my grandmother) when a mighty explosion killed her step father in the Bulli coal mine along with 85 others – her father was rotting in prison due to his association with the Clark Gang. Somehow she came from this hard destitute life (she was very pretty and married Noah Hobbs a Welsh coal miner who raised my grandmother as his own daughter) ) to establish her own lying in hospital and become a leading local midwife where understandably she developed a soft spot for unwed mothers and those in need hence her name the Poor Peoples Friend. Now we Australians very carefully hid our convict roots and bush ranging past in Victorian times so its not easy to know what the original crimes were. If you are able to help me find out something of Elizabeth Newthe or North I would be most grateful.

    Hope you can help me

    Kind regards
    Dan

    • Hi Dan,

      Thanks for your message. It is always interesting to hear what happened to transportees once they had left Britain. I have had a look in my notes for Elizabeth Newthe. I have her listed as Eliza Newthe, aged 25, from Dursley, and a burler. (Burling was removing knots and loose threads from finished cloth.) She was committed to Gloucester Gaol in November 1828, and sentenced to 14 years transportation at the Gloucestershire Assizes in April 1829, for receiving stolen goods. The goods were stolen by George Ludlow alias Duddle, George Hill and Daniel Ludlow, who were all sentenced to transportation for life. If you go on the website of Gloucestershire Archives and then search for Eliza Newthe on the Genealogical Database, you will see her in the indexes of the gaol registers, and if you wish you can order a copy of her gaol record (for a fee). This should give a description of her and details of her crime. I’m afraid I can’t look into her life in any detail, as I don’t have time, but you can find a list of professional researchers on the Gloucestershire Archives website who could help you. The website address is http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/archives. You might also find Elizabeth Newthe if you search the Gloucestershire records on http://familysearch.org. The Gloucestershire Family History Society website (http://gfhs.org.uk) might also be of interest to you. I hope this helps! Jill.

  4. Hi Jill,
    I am in the hopes that you can help. I am a direct descendant of William Jewell who was hanged at Gloucester Prison in 1799, I have discovered a pamphlet about his case in the records office but I wondered if you knew any more about him??? all we ever knew was that he had gone to prison and that was why we had to sell the small holding we had in Sherborne, Glos. We Jewells are still at Sherborne btw. Please please do get in touch. I am a historian such as yourself and I am the custodian of the Sherborne estate archive which is a tale best kept for another time. Many thanks Byron

    • Hello Byron,thanks for your message. William Jewell was in my book Hanged at Gloucester. I will have a look at my notes and send you an e-mail with details. It might not be for a few days, though.

      • I have only just ordered up your book 🙂 William, was enigmatic figure within my family, all I ever could get from my Grandfather was that William had gone to prison but nobody seemed to know why until I started doing some digging!

        I am in the hopes that your notes will enlighten us some more on the man and his case, we are also in the hopes that we might learn the fate of his remains too.

        I look forward to your email, never fear I am very happy to wait. Thank you for your help.

        Byron

  5. I have a couple of prison cell doors which are reputed to come from Gloucester Prison, I would guess that stylistically they may date from the 1791 period rather than 1840. Do you know of any information about the cell doors at these dates? They have some name inscriptions on them.

    Many thanks

    Bry

    • Hello Bry. The earliest cell blocks still standing at the prison date from the 1840s, and a few of the doors were pointed out as being “original” when I went on a tour there last year. The rest had been replaced by more modern versions. I have a photo somewhere of one of the 1840 doors, which I could send by e-mail if you like, for you to compare. I would be interested to know the names on your doors.

    • I have seen this, Guy, yes. I tried to get permission to reproduce the original gallows photograph in ‘Hanged at Gloucester’, but couldn’t get permission in time. Very annoying! Your website looks very interesting.

  6. I know that the grandparents of Matthew, Henry and Samuel were Thomas and Sarah Pinnell (nee Offer) who married at Berwick Bassett in 1747 but I don’t know anything more about Thomas. The later generations seem to have had more than their fair share of bad luck and tragedy, with deaths of adults in Gloucester lunatic asylum and children being crushed by a runaway traction engine at Stanway.

  7. Thank you for this information. It is sad but interesting.
    I am a descendant of the Samuel Pinnell who was transported to Australia in 1820. The name changed from Pinnell to Pennell with the next generation in Australia.
    If anyone would like to contact me about the Pinnell (Aussie Pennell) family history, I would be happy to hear from them.
    Helen Draper

  8. I would be interested if you have ever found anything referring to the Sinn Fein prisoners sent to Gloucester(and Usk) prisons in I believe 1918. I seem to remember they were rounded up in Ireland and remanded without charge and were kept in these prisons for some time before being released.

  9. Pingback: New thoughts on burial places of prisoners hanged at Gloucester | Gloucestershire Crime History

  10. Criminals from Crudwell

    The village of Crudwell is located on the main road from Malmesbury to Cirencester [now the A429], developing around a well reputed to quench the thirst better than other water, and was listed in the Domesday Survey of 1086.

    My Pinnell ancestors moved to Crudwell sometime before1782 when Samuel Pinnell married Sarah Parker, daughter of John & Mary Parker, at the parish church of All Saints. Samuel Pinnell was the fourth of eight children born to Thomas & Sarah Pinnell at Brinkworth and baptised in June 1754. Thomas Pinnell had married Sarah Offer[?] at Berwick Bassett parish church in October 1747. Thomas was probably the son of another Thomas Pinnell and baptised at Biddestone in 1720 although there is a family tale that he came from Enford, south of the Vale of Pewsey.

    Samuel and Sarah Pinnell had seven children baptised at Crudwell parish church between 1783 and 1797. The first hint that the Pinnell family had criminal tendencies was in 1820 when their sixth son, another Samuel then aged 25, was sentenced to seven years for stealing geese and transported to New South Wales in the “Asia”.

    My direct ancestor was Matthew, baptised in 1790 and married to Elizabeth Aldridge or Eldridge at Crudwell in October 1811. Elizabeth had an interesting background as the 1783 baptism entry in the parish register for the Gloucestershire village of Duntisbourne Abbots stated “Betty Eldridge, daughter of Hester Townsend, bastard” with her mother marrying William Eldridge a month later.

    Matthew and Elizabeth had four sons – Thomas, Robert, Moses and Samuel – between 1813 and 1822 and moved to Newington Bagpath in Gloucestershire circa 1814/5. My direct line comes down through Thomas and I am in contact with descendents of Moses and Samuel. It would be wonderful if there is a descendent of Robert Pinnell, born 1816 at Newington Bagpath, out there somewhere.

    On 17th December 1828, Matthew Pinnell and his youngest brother Henry attacked James Kearsey of Rodmarton as he returned from market and stole a watch, over £60 in notes, a quantity of silver and a key. Earlier that day, the two brothers had been drinking in a local pub, known as Trouble House Inn, when they saw Mr Kearsey go past on his way to Tetbury and commented on his affluence. They reputedly waylaid Mr Kearsey by shouting ‘stand and deliver’, hitting him with a stick and threatening him with a large pistol. The brothers were presumably illiterate as they had to ask an acquaintance, Thomas Cornwall, in nearby Wotton-under-Edge the value of the various bank notes that they had stolen. Realising the seriousness of their crime, they went ‘on the run’ but were caught at the Bell Inn in Salisbury by Charles Cogwell, a constable from Wotton-under-Edge, ten day later.

    From assorted contemporary written sources, there seems to be some disagreement over where Matthew and Henry were living in 1828. They were variously described as being of Avening, Rodborough, Estcourt or Eastcourt, Crudwell and Newington Bagpath. Their victim, James Kearsey, was an ancestor of Dr Hugh Kearsey, former chairman of the Gloucestershire Family History Society and recent recipient of the Society of Genealogists’ Certificate of Recognition.

    As the offence was committed in Gloucestershire, Matthew and Henry appeared at the Gloucester Assizes in April 1829. The jury returned a verdict of ‘guilty’ of the crime of highway robbery and the judge passed a sentence of death for them both. The brothers were executed at Gloucester gaol after taking an affectionate leave of each other in the prison chapel. Matthew, described as a ‘powerful man of six feet in height’, died quickly but for Henry, who was shorter and more muscular, the knot on the noose slipped and his convulsions were more protracted. After the hanging, their bodies were reported to have been handed over to their friends for interment. It was more common at this time for such cadavers to be used in dissection for medical research. The burial places of Matthew and Henry Pinnell have not yet been identified. A later newspaper report suggests that they were buried at Newington Bagpath church but there is no entry in the parish register.

    Nikki Bosworth (Miss)
    Member no. 5328

    • Fascinating, Nikki, than you. Regarding whether the Pinnell brothers were taken away for burial by their families, this could be true, as by law only murderers had to be sent to be anatomized. Executed prisoners were sometimes buried in churchyards without ceremony or entry in the parish registers. I have recently come across a newspaper report which says Henry requested that his body be handed over to his mother. I will do an updated post about burials of prisoners soon.

  11. I have had an article about my Pinnell ancestor who was hanged in Gloucester Prison in 1829 published in the Wiltshire FHS Journal in the most recent issue (no.132) if you are interested.

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