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

UBP & CaP online event: Portraits of Crime? The ethics of displaying real lives and people. Looking forward to great discussion ⁦@CaPnetworkUK⁩ ⁦@UBPnetwork⁩ ⁦@faceofresearch⁩ ⁦@UniOfHull⁩ https://ourcriminalancestors.org/events/ubp-cap-online-event-portraits-of-crime-the-ethics-of-displaying-real-lives-and-people/

Free places still available for this online event next week; take a look at the programme details and mini-exhibition here https://www.britishportraits.org.uk/events/portraits-of-crime-the-ethics-of-displaying-real-lives-and-people/, and a link to registration. https://twitter.com/UBPnetwork/status/1458089357831704579

🗣️ #ChristmasChallenge21 Launch

Women’s Centres are an anchor that help stop women being swept up into crime, but we need your support to keep running them.

For 7 days, any donations you make through our @BigGive campaign will be matched ✨

Join us⬇️
https://donate.thebiggive.org.uk/campaign/a056900001xeQjbAAE

🔶Today #HistoricalCriminology by @iainchanning @yeomans_henry & me is officially published! @Routledge_Socio Hope it helps put time and history closer to the heart of criminology🔶 #HCNet @ANZHistCrim @HCriminology @SOLONNetwork @ourcriminalpast https://www.routledge.com/Historical-Criminology/Churchill-Yeomans-Channing/p/book/9780367185756

Reupping this call for papers. If you have a piece (or a piece in mind) that is relevant to historical criminology, send it our way! Submit via the Journal of Criminal Justice portal. https://twitter.com/HitchMagee/status/1428771756169383949

🚨CFP for conference exploring crime, imperialism & inheritances from interdisciplinary perspectives
📆 Deadline extended to 17 Dec
🎓 Esp. welcome ECRs/PGRs
🌎 International participation, online event over 4 x 1/2 days.
💻 More info: http://www.imperialgenealogiesofcrime.com
@MFoster_history

AGM of the PHS and delighted to announce that our Annual Award for contribution to Police History goes posthumously to Emeritus Professor Clive Emsley… our former academic advisor for 35 years 🙏

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We've posted our Collection of the Month for November! https://www.northamptonmuseums.com/ is located in a C19th prison with some intriguing details still on view. View at https://www.capcollections.org.uk/ and if you'd like to be December's collection. @NorthamptonShoe #crimeandpunishment

One day I'm going to publish a book celebrating the work of Bored Clerks Through The Ages.

Here we have a Royal Naval clerk, with a wonderful piece of nautical time wasting from 1815, which appears in the ship's musters for HMS Grasshopper...

(@UkNatArchives ref: ADM 37/5660)