District Jail Records
Jail records provide a glimpse into the real-life challenges in our ancestors' lives. Because a large proportion of the jail records concern debtors and other civil offences, and the names of both plaintiffs and defendants are recorded, virtually anyone, whether law abiding or not, can appear in these records.
Generally the information in the register includes the name of the offender (and the plaintiff, if a civil offence), the nature of the offence (usually petty offences such as disturbing the peace, drunkenness or minor theft, but occasionally more serious ones), the date admitted to jail and the release date.
These records can be invaluable for locating an ancestor, confirming his or her county of residence, and adding "spice" to your family history!
Records survive for the following jails and years:
- Gore District/Wentworth County (Hamilton) 1832-1975
- Home District/York County (Toronto) 1837-1975
- Newcastle District 1820-1846
- Northumberland and Durham Counties (Cobourg) 1834-1975
- Prince Edward County (Picton) 1848-1971
- Wellington County (Guelph) 1840-1977
- Western District 1821-1857
So far, Gore District 1832-1846 and Home District 1837-1838 have been indexed (by name, date and county) for a total of 2191 names. The remainder of the jail records (up to 1850) will be added as time and demand allows.