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Access to Old Bailey Online Data

We are committed to making our data available for educational, scholarly, creative and innovative uses. This page outlines some of the ways in which you can access different versions of the data for analysis and re-use.

For examples of online projects and resources that have been developed using Old Bailey Online data, please look at the Digital Projects page.

The Old Bailey Online XML data is a large and complex dataset, reflecting the complexity of the material it contains: any trial may contain multiple defendants, offences, victims, verdicts and sentences. However, the advantage of working directly with the data is that it can enable the development of new applications and new types of analysis not possible within the limitations of the searchable database on this site.

If you do not have the technical resources to handle the data yourself, we welcome proposals for new collaborations.

If you are interested in learning programming skills to work with data like this, we recommend the Programming Historian, a very useful learning resource for historians which includes a number of relevant tutorials, including at least one using the Old Bailey API.

Old Bailey Online Project Data

All project data is licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial license (CC-BY-NC). Please refer to our Copyright and Citation Guidelines for further information.

Old Bailey API

The Old Bailey API (OBAPI) allows users to work directly with the text of both the individual trials and entire sessions published as part of the Proceedings. The API is often the most convenient way to get hold of the data, but it has certain constraints that users should be aware of:

  • it gives access only to trials, excluding front matter, advertisements and the Ordinary's Accounts.
  • it is not possible to download more than 10 complete trials with a single query

There is an accompanying Old Bailey API Demonstrator which is designed to facilitate the dynamic exploration of trial results, and the export of trial texts and collections of trial URLs. This is particularly intended for users without programming skills, but it is also useful as a tool for testing what can be done via the API.

For more information and full documentation for developers, please see Old Bailey API

Old Bailey Online XML files

If you require the complete data (or the API is not suitable for your needs), it is available in XML format only from the University of Sheffield's data repository (ORDA):

The dataset consists of 2,163 editions of the Proceedings and 475 Ordinary's Accounts marked up in TEI-XML, and contains some documentation covering the data structure and variables. Each Proceedings file represents one session of the court (1674-1913), and each Ordinary's Account file represents a single pamphlet (1676-1772).

Much of the OBAPI documentation is also useful for understanding the XML files, as the API is based on the same data. However, please note that sometimes the files on ORDA and the API might represent slightly different versions of the data.

Other sources of Old Bailey Online data

Other APIs

Two digital projects that include Old Bailey Online data have their own APIs:

The Old Bailey Corpus

The Old Bailey Corpus (created by Magnus Huber, University of Giessen) is based on the Proceedings from 1720 to 1913.

This linguistic corpus consists of a large sample of the Proceedings (c.24 million spoken words in 637 selected Proceedings), created by identifying and tagging direct speech in the trial reports and adding information about speakers. The corpus can be downloaded at

Digital Panopticon: Tracing London Convicts in Britain and Australia, 1780-1925

The Digital Panopticon project has created a number of new datasets, including Old Bailey Online defendants data 1740-1913.