Dublin Prisoner Books 2


Legend: Schoolboy villains from 1911

The Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) were a special police force for Dublin which existed from 1836 until 1925 when they were merged with the Garda Síochána, the national police force of the independent Irish state established in 1922. An excellent, although limited, source which has recently emerged is a set of ‘prisoner’s books’ compiled by the DMP for the periods 1905-1908 and 1911-1918. They record the details of persons charged in all of the 20 DMP stations in Dublin from Dun Laoghaire (then Kingstown) in the south of the city to Clontarf on the north side. The four volumes contain the name, age, address, occupation, alleged offence and, in most cases, outcome of cases involving over 30,000 people arrested. Each volume also contains an index of prisoners with references to the pages containing details of the charge.

Legend: Soldiers arrested for failure to return from leave 1918.

Legend: Soldiers arrested for failure to return from leave 1918.

Three of the 4 volumes were found on a ‘skip’ or dumpster last year and all four are now held by the Garda Museum and Archives. All have also been indexed by Eneclann and have been made available on-line by the Library of University College Dublin. The indexed and digitised volumes are available for searching at http://digital.ucd.ie/view/ucdlib:43945 and are a wonderful resource for family history, as well as a fascinating insight into Dublin life of the period. The crimes recorded range from schoolboys robbing orchards (recorded as ‘Illegal possession of apples’) to armed robbery and a wide range of other petty and serious offences. Among the interesting social insights is the huge number of soldiers arrested for desertion, or for being absent without leave from the British armed forces, especially during the First World War. Other offences which are no longer common include loitering, and attempted suicide (for which prisoners were given short jail sentences!)

An advantage of this resource is that almost all of those arrested have an address and age. However, the address for those from outside Dublin is usually only the town or county. So, if you wish to introduce some ‘colour’ into your Irish family history you might like to have a look.


Dr. James Ryan

About Dr. James Ryan

Dr. James Ryan is a writer and publisher who has been active in Irish genealogy for the past 25 years. He founded Flyleaf Press – www.flyleaf.ie - in 1987, provided research services for clients for many years, and has lectured widely in North America and Ireland. His book ‘Irish Records’ (published by Ancestry Inc.) has been a standard guide for Irish genealogists since its publication in 1987. Jim is the author of IDG’s monthly column, The Emerald Isle.

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