“Thare’s nee gud luck in Dorham Jail Thare’s nee gud luck it awl;”

– Tommy Armstrong

Murder, robbery, burglary, assault. These foul deeds were as much a part of life in the 18th and 19th centuries as they are today. As towns started to develop and traditional communities broke down, the numbers of crimes being committed seemed to increase. In 1800 there were over 5000 recorded crimes; just thirty years later this had risen to 20,000. People were concerned by this perceived increase in lawlessness and increasingly harsh punishments were inflicted. Foremost amongst these was the death penalty. By the end of the 1700s over 200 offences were punishable by death. You could be sentenced to death for pick-pocketing anything worth more than one shilling or stealing something valued at over £2. These were difficult times.

To find out more about Crime and Punishment in Durham, make your way through the gate of the Old Gaol and enter in… (if you dare).