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

Police and the Bombing of Gloucestershire during World War Two | Gloucestershire at War | Gloucestershire Police Archives https://gloucestershirepolicearchives.org.uk/content/from-strikes-to-vips/wars/police-and-the-bombing-of-gloucestershire-during-world-war-two

Oh my goodness! I really wasn't prepared for such young faces to be staring at me from the pages of Ancestry's West Midlands Criminal Registers. #OnePlaceWednesday https://twitter.com/OnePlaceStudies/status/1329124980391636993

The 'Garrotting Panic' of the 1860s is captured in these two images. On the left a garotte robbery takes place. On the right, Punch Magazine lampoons the many 'anti-garrotting' devices invented to repel gangs who used this method of robbery.

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30 Artefacts over 30 Days

For the month of November, The OPW and Kilmainham Gaol will showcase some the Museums unique pieces to give you a glimpse of the variety of its extensive Collection while highlighting the historical importance of these pieces. #musuem30 #MuseumsUnlocked

Check out this fab "walking with convicts" digital event for @BeingHumanFest https://twitter.com/LjmulindsayA/status/1326863268619694080

Clive Emsley obituary.
Historian with an international reputation as the foremost historian of policing. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/nov/09/clive-emsley-obituary

30 Artefacts over 30 Days

For the month of November, The OPW and Kilmainham Gaol will showcase some the Museums unique pieces to give you a glimpse of the variety of its extensive Collection while highlighting the historical importance of these pieces. #museum30 #museum2020

30 Artefacts over 30 Days

For the month of November, The OPW and Kilmainham Gaol will showcase some the Museums unique pieces to give you a glimpse of the variety of its extensive Collection while highlighting the historical importance of these pieces. #museum30 #museum2020