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Royal Courts of Justice in London

Where to find criminal justice system records

The main historic records of the criminal justice system can be found in the National Archives and local record offices. Learn more about these records.

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The convict licensing system

Following the implementation of the 1853 Penal Servitude Act, a new licensing system for convicts was introduced in Britain, where well-behaved prisoners could be released early. Many of our criminal ancestors would have been part of this new system.

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Court gavel

Assizes

The Assizes was a regional court circuit held twice-yearly, often dealing with more serious offences such as murder, rape and highway robbery.

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Port Arthur penitentiary, Tasmania

Source guide for tracing your transported convict ancestor(s)

Find out how to trace your transported criminal ancestors with our detailed source guide.

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cover of the Hull and East Riding source guide

Source Guide for Hull and East Riding

Download our Hull and East Riding source guide to researching your criminal past.

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old photo of a police force

Tracing your police ancestors

Find out more about the sources available for tracing your police ancestors.

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inside a reformatory school

Industrial and Reformatory School Registers

Industrial and Reformatory Schools registers contain a great deal of information about the criminal and destitute children who were sent to these institutions from the mid-nineteenth century until 1933.

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Hull Quarter Sessions gates

Quarter Sessions

Find out more about the Quarter sessions, which were local courts usually held four times a year in the seat of the county or county borough.

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Holloway prison

HMP Holloway: History and Sources

A history of Holloway prison, which was originally built as the New City of London Prison in 1852 and later re-designated to became the first female-only local prison in England.

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Latest Updates on Twitter

Great to welcome @DrMichaelReeve back to Hull to present a public lecture at @Hull_Museums on the role of Special Constabulary during the First World War. This is the first of a series of public lectures showcasing the excellent research by Graduate scholars at the @UniOfHull

Researching Charlotte this evening. Here she is in 1898.She spent 55 years in institutions. The last one, Ely Hospital in Cardiff, forgot her birthday and the names of her parents. None of that mattered - she was just a body to feed, sleep, wake and repeat. She died in 1953.

#BadBridget Mary McDonagh ‘Left her husband five weeks ago because he would not give her any money. Said he was stingy and would not buy her clothes.’

Lesson number 2: Don't marry a stingy man.
#ValentinesDay #wmnhist #twitterstorians #Irishdiaspora

West Yorkshire History Centre: Our Criminal Ancestors workshop for public, Tue 16 Jun 2020 at 10:30 | Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/our-criminal-ancestors-workshop-tickets-92952263723

Not 1 but 2 #historicalcriminology blogs for your delectation!

@dr_vnagy & I reflect on recent work by @dchurchill01 @yeomans_henry & Paul Lawrence

I’m not one for interactive twitter but interested to hear the thoughts of crims / crime historians... https://www.historicalcriminology.com/?m=1 https://twitter.com/dralexaneale/status/1228002835494834176

Researching Prison Governor’s conference minutes today @UkNatArchives, Oxford 1948: ‘the whole of the crisis now “the chronic situation” was caused by a shortage of staff, and a shortage of accommodation as against a surplus of prisoners’. #prisongovernors #prisonhistory

Fancy a stroll through East #London in 1889? On the Travels Through Time free podcast we’ll be walking through street markets, experiencing the stillness on the #Thames during the Dock Strike, and watching a boxing match in a #Shoreditch church.
https://www.tttpodcast.com/season-02/london-blackest-streets-sarah-wise-1889

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The architect for the new #Ripon House of Correction, was Lord Grantham of Baldersby, an amateur architect willing to plan the building for free. Grantham’s original 1815 design was rejected. @BritPoliceHist @ourcriminalpast @RiponTogether @GenealogyBeech @prisonhistoryuk