Getting Started

Researching your prison ancestors: an introductory guide

Have you found a prisoner in your family history or are interested in learning more about past punishments in your local community? Our new introductory guide can help you to source relevant records and trace those incarcerated in prisons between 1800 and 1914.

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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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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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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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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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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

Types of 'employment' & wages of prisoners in #Ripon House of Correction in 1872. Oakum picking had been introduced by the Governor, William Smith (formerly Sgt of the Ripon Police) in 1863. #NorthYorkshire @ourcriminalpast @prisonhistoryuk @CaPnetworkUK

@MAMBarLife @ourcriminalpast Yes. Ideally no windows, though some had small windows or grates for ventilation. Box Blind House is a true blind house - they managed to put the ventilation in the chimney https://tinyurl.com/eju6un9w

Finding a burial record is an important part of tracing your ancestor's story. Here's how to search the records of local cemeteries online

https://www.whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine.com/tutorials/cemetery-records-online/

1. Another in our #LostPrisonsofDublin series. "New Newgate" opened in 1781 to replace "Old Newgate", the medieval city prison located in Cornmarket. Designed by Thomas Cooley, it was quickly seen as out-dated and overcrowded with poor ventilation and sanitation. (image DCC)

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Although the Met had detectives from 1842, when the painter William Frith wanted 2 real life officers as models for his depiction of an arrest (right), he used Michael Haydon and James Brett of the City of London Police, 2 of the finest thief takers of the day #AVeryBritishMurder

#365Relatives #365Anniversaries My 3xGt Grandmother, Helen PHILIP (née TAYLOR) died on 8 April 1876 at the Haddington District Asylum. She had been admitted to the asylum in December 1873. The @scottishindexes website is a great source for details of patients in Scottish asylums.

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Final call: PhD studentship on the Corps of Commissionaires in C20 Britain. Great opportunity to explore social history of military, post-military transitions, charity and private security. Deadline this Friday https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SmN88AkqFzhqVLYgxvPK18KY_2hNFbMc85K0uLoR2zE/edit#heading=h.g0dsvd6a6j6t

On Wednesday 14th, our final Criminology Rising Star speaker for the year will be Ben Jarman @bjarman_ discussing 'Penal theory, moral communication, and personal ethics’ (1pm). Support (12.15pm) is from our own Simone Santorso @cccjhull. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/criminology-rising-star-guest-speaker-series-202021-tickets-125894041467