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.

Find out more
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.

Find out more
old photo of a police force

Tracing your police ancestors

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

Find out more
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.

Find out more

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.

Find out more
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.

Find out more
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.

Find out more
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.

Find out more
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.

Find out more
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.

Find out more

Latest Updates on Twitter

IPP reform folk- the JSC report is published today and recommends a comprehensive resentencing exercise of people serving IPP. Still in shock, but a heartfelt thank you to those of you who submitted evidence & helped get this result. https://committees.parliament.uk/work/1509/imprisonment-for-public-protection-ipp-sentences/news/173280/justice-committee-finds-ipp-sentences-irredeemably-flawed-and-calls-for-comprehensive-resentencing-programme/

Image from the plans for the Scottish Temperance League Offices by architect W F Salmon (of Salmon and Sons), 1893-94. Later the building became part of the Daily Record Offices.

ref: TD1309/B555

Thursday 29th September is the last chance to see our Unlocking the Treasures exhibition, showcasing collections and material within the Local Studies Library here at the Hull History Centre #whatwillyoudiscover @jrlthull @Hull_Museums @hull_libraries @HistoryatHull

Delighted that our #WhatWasHere app is shortlisted for a #REYTA2022 award in the Tourism Experience of the Year category!
Best wishes to fellow nominees @HullGinSchool @Puffins_Galore Retox Retreat @RangersWold for 10th November @bridspa

Exciting news! Big shout out to our partners, including recent contributors @pearsonparkhull @ourcriminalpast @TrueCuriosities @hulltourguide @FlowerGuardBook @DrAlexOmbler ๐Ÿ‘ https://twitter.com/ERArchives/status/1575048815924633600

Mother and baby home survivors' stories published: 'I was told I was going' https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-63038627

We have a new First World War Land Girl added to the site. Meet Helen Blanche Roderick who wrote a touching and amusing poem reflecting on what it was like working on the land during the First World War. ๐Ÿท๐Ÿ„ https://www.womenslandarmy.co.uk/helen-blanche-roderick/

Stockton and Darlington was the first steam-hauled public railway.

It opened #OnThisDay in 1825 when the train โ€˜Locomotive No 1โ€™ took its maiden journey.

To commemorate, look at these listed sites associated with steam locomotives in England. https://heritagecalling.com/2018/08/11/6-listed-sites-that-survive-from-the-age-of-the-steam-train/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=brand

The Gentleman's Magazine is a great source of stories guaranteed to distract you.
Take, for example, the 1754 Spitalfields Workhouse committee meeting which resulted in the deaths of the churchwarden, two overseers and the beadle!
We've all been at meetings like that, right?