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

Cardiff is so alien in this shot. Cardiff Central Station is in the middle. Is that HMS Hamadryad in the mud on the right? https://twitter.com/GlamArchives/status/1321101035407134721

The latest Seeking Surrey Ancestors blog explores the many resources available for tracing criminal ancestors http://ow.ly/L60150C3CUU
#AncestryHour #Genealogy
@digipanoptic @ourcriminalpast

It’s half term for me, after a tough eight weeks. Will be editing these this week and maybe, possibly, some will end up published.

Interested in Researching your #Polish Ancestors? The National Institute for Genealogical Studies offers many courses specifically for individual countries. Course scheduled to begin Nov 2nd. Register today! #genealogy #familyhistory
Polish Ancestors: https://www.genealogicalstudies.com/eng/courses.asp?courseID=247

We’ve created access time slots at Streetlife Museum and @HullFerens, at times when we know it will be less busy for visitors who would benefit from that.

To book your ticket please visit https://www.hcandl.co.uk/museums-and-galleries

We explore the history of fairs in this special blog, which you can read here: https://bit.ly/34Wt6HZ unsurprisingly, they have rather ancient origins! #WDYTYA

Journey into @Coventry_Police today to rescue an old police box, ready to preserve for the future 🤓👮

It was blue once upon a time...

And where is the emoji for a tardis when you need one???

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Excitingly, the service records for the Grenadier Guards have just been transferred to @UKNatArchives. https://www.whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine.com/news/grenadier-guards-records-released/ #wdytya #whodoyouthinkyouare #davidwalliams

@ourcriminalpast @IslaBroadwell @PrisonTwist @CrimJustNetwork @JusticeMuseum @VicPrisonVoices @DigiVics @MuseumLiverpool @Lancs_Heritage Thank you! We published a short piece on Everton lock-up last year, but we'd be grateful for any more info or stories about it https://www.prisonhistory.org/featured-lock-up-everton-lock-up/