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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


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

If you didn't read it back in Nov - still chance to read my @sochistsoc blog on Lawyers for the Poor, out now with @ManchesterUP

Do you have any bright MA students who might be interested in this PhD/RA opportunity at @HistoryManMet @mcphh_mmu?

Are you a post-doc student & or a researcher into the #history of 1919-1923? We're looking for papers for our symposium Reimagining the Decade! Deadline for proposed submissions tomorrow: #hisedchatie #edchatie Details below

I'm running a workshop on Embroidered Images alongside Criminal Quilts exhibition at National Justice Museum on 21st March. Come and stitch with me (includes free entry to the exhibition too) 4 places left so book soon!…
@JusticeMuseum @RuthSinger

Can anyone tell this #twitterstorian how civil recovery of #proceedsofcrime and tax work in *historic* #UK cases involving *unconvicted defendants* or their heirs?

Packed audience to hear @alicia_kidd, Vice Chair of @humberantislave & PostDoctoral Research Fellow at @WilberforceHull, talking about work to combat contemporary slavery in the Humber area. We are delighted to host this talk for @Hull_Museums as part of 'Coming Home' exhibition.

Graduate Research Assistant in History, Manchester Metropolitan University. Incorporates 0.6 PhD and 0.4 RA for five years.
Get in quick, as the closing date is the 30th January.

100 years ago on this day, the nation was enjoying its final day of drinking (or stockpiling) before #Prohibition took effect on Jan. 17, 1920. | #Prohibition100 🥃

Pleased to have contributed to this book and to have been involved in the network resisting the misuse of solitary confinement.


Latest issue Plymouth Law Review now live headlined by LCJ Burnett's #pilgrimfatherslecture congrats to Hugo De Rijke for taking over the baton from me as founding editor 11 years ago @UPLSLAW @PlymLawSociety @PlymLawSchool