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LOCKED UP! A life of crime

Pat Chrisfield was shocked to discover a great-uncle who was in and out of prison all his life. Although not guilty of crimes of the century, this was a man caught in a sad trajectory, trapped in a circle of poverty with little or no support, as online newspaper reports and other records go to show…
Pat’s poverty-stricken great-uncle Arthur found himself under lock and key many times in his lifetime for committing opportunist crimes

When I took my first tentative steps in genealogy I harboured no desire to find that I was a descendant of royalty or gentry. Instead I hoped for heroes, inventors, peace-makers and generally interesting individuals. I had no objection to the occasional criminal in my ancestry but hoped that these would not include murderers or sex offenders.

While researching my maternal line I came across my great-uncle, Arthur George Prior, who was most certainly interesting and had a staggering criminal record – he committed at least 45 crimes in 30 years (more of this later).

Family of paupers

Arthur’s parents were Thomas Prior and Sarah (née Oliver). He was born circa 1876 in Croydon, Surrey. I should, perhaps, mention here that the Priors were somewhat cavalier at registering births and it is therefore necessary to accept the declared ages in the census and other documentation. Arthur’s year of birth varies within a year or two so I have chosen to use the most quoted year.

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There's something undeniably special about visiting our ancestors' final resting places. Read the guide in the latest issue of Family Tree about graveyards and we will help you step back in time. Graveyards and cemeteries are a very real reminder of earlier generations and visiting them will not only spark thought-provoking memories - they may also provide you with new clues and details... And speaking of 'new clues' - don't miss our brand new series 'Taken a DNA test? Now what?'. This is the advice you need if you want to get the most from your DNA test. Discover how to make sense of the results, find more details and grow that fabulous family tree of yours! Join in with the DNA adventure today! We also have a fabulous free guide for you in this bumper issue, Heritage Days Out, packed full of ideas for family and local history trips to take this summer. Enjoy your travels through time!