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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Looking for #PoliceHistory books?
They’re all here... https://mangobooks.co.uk/collections/police-history
@PolHisSoc1985 @MPSHeritage @Police_Gazette @PoliceHistory

⁦@prisonhistoryuk⁩ Watchet Court Leet Lock Up, Market St, Watchet, Nth Somerset. Court app still meets annually & ceremoniously ‘true men of Watchet’, at Bell Inn since 1643.

A doll dressed in the uniform of the Clifton Industrial School for Boys. Pupils at schools like these made uniforms for dolls that were then sold to raise money. In 1857 the law gave magistrates the power to send 7-14 yr olds to one of these institutions for vagrancy.
#DollDay

On 29 July 1864, Solomon Allies was appointed as Borough Gaoler @tolhousemuseum
Great Yarmouth Local History & Archaeological Society have kindly given us permission to share an article about the last gaoler & predecessors at the Tolhouse.
Read full post http://ow.ly/JC4Y50AETWQ

@tolhousemuseum @timetidemuseum Very interesting article on last gaol keeper in Great Yarmouth @tolhousemuseum @prisonhistoryuk @ourcriminalpast

Great view of Glasgow Cross showing the tolbooth building before its demolition in 1921 Archive Ref: P9629
#Archivesathome #Glasgowlifegoeson

Was your ancestor punished by transported? Get started with guide for tracing your transported convict ancestor(s) - Our Criminal Ancestors #familyhistory #genealogy #ancestors https://ourcriminalancestors.org/source-guide-for-tracing-your-transported-convict-ancestorss/

Tracing your police ancestors? Some simple tips to get started - Our Criminal Ancestors #familyhistory #ancestors #genealogy https://ourcriminalancestors.org/police-ancestors/

Looking for introduction to where to find criminal justice system records - start here - Our Criminal Ancestors #familyhistory #genealogy #ancestors https://ourcriminalancestors.org/where-to-find-criminal-justice-system-records/

Researching your prison ancestors: an introductory guide - Our Criminal Ancestors #familyhistory #genealogy #ancestors https://ourcriminalancestors.org/researching-your-prison-ancestors-an-introductory-guide/