Half a million people were transported during the 18th century - to America, the West Indies, and Australia. Historians are just beginning to track their progress from the Old Bailey to their lives beyond. What they're discovering is as dramatic and colourful as any novel.

Amanda Vickery tells the stories of three criminals who were transported during the 18th and early 19th centuries, and of one group of desperate women who refused to go, throwing the entire penal system into chaos.

Recorded on location in the Prospect of Whitby pub in Wapping, on the River Thames, near where the prisoners were kept in hulks on the river and where many were hanged.

Contributors include Professor Peter King of Leicester University, leading historian of crime; Robert Shoemaker, Professor of History at Sheffield University and the co-founder of the Old Bailey Online; and historian of Empire, Zoe Laidlaw, from Royal Holloway, University of London, herself the descendent of a transported convict who was convicted in the Old Bailey.

With readings by Charlotte Stockley, Ewan Bailey, David Holt, and Steven Webb, and specially arranged music from singer Guy Hughes and pianist David Owen Norris.

Produced by Elizabeth Burke.
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

Release date:

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Thu 4 Sep 2014 21:30

Related topics

Getting started on the Old Bailey Site

You can find details of all these cases on the website Old Bailey Online. The site includes a video tutorial with search tips and further advice to help you navigate this rich source of archive.


Getting started - video tutorial

Case 1: William Blewitt, who returns from transportation

William Blewitt, who returns from transportation. This is the original pickpocketing case where he is sentenced to transportation


Case 1: William Blewitt, who returns from transportation


William Blewitt’s trial for returning from transportation

Case 2: Martha Cutler, Sarah Cowden and Sarah Storer refuse to be transported.

Case 3: Thomas Corrigan, who murders his wife and becomes a newspaper editor

Amanda Vickery

Professor Amanda Vickery is the prize-winning author of The Gentleman's Daughter (Yale University Press, 1998) and Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England (Yale University Press, 2009). She is Professor of Early Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London. She lectures on British social, political and cultural history. 

Amanda reviews for The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement, and BBC Radio 4's Saturday Review, Front Row and Woman’s Hour. Her TV series At Home with the Georgians aired on BBC2 in December 2010. She was a judge of the 2011 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize.


Amanda Vickery

London Lives

London Lives is the sister site to Old Bailey Online. It makes available, in a fully digitised and searchable form, a wide range of primary sources about eighteenth-century London, many of which concern the same individuals who appeared at the Old Bailey. 

The site includes over 240,000 manuscript and printed pages and over 3.35 million names.


London Lives



Peter King - Professor of English Local History,University of Leicester


Bob Shoemaker - Professor of Eighteenth-Century British History, University of Sheffield


Zoë Laidlaw - Reader in British Imperial and Colonial History, Royal Holloway


Find out more about Zoe Laidlaw’s ancestor Nathaniel Lucas