British Convict transportation registers database 1787-1867

British Convict Registers

Have you got criminals on your family tree? If so then the British Convict Transportation Registers 1787-1867 database will be of interest to you. It has been compiled from the British Home Office (HO) records which are available at all Australian State Libraries.

The database contains over 123 000 of the estimated 160,000 convicts transported to Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries. Details are given such as names, term of years, transport ships and more.

A search for my ancestor John Silcock gave the following information …

  • John Silcock one of 224 convicts transported aboard the Eliza
  • Departed England 2 February 1831
  • Arrived Van Dieman’s Land
  • Convicted at Southampton Special Gaol Delivery for a term of 7 years.
  • Free pardon.
  • Original source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 89, Class and Piece Number HO11/8, Page Number 5

A search of the original records may given further information, but the index alone gives quite a lot of detail.

Prison Ship Records 1811 – 1843 now online

Prison Ship Records 1811 – 1843 now online

Prison Ship records now online has added to their collection 8,900 records of prisoners who were held on hulks or prison ships. Those with ancestors unfortunate enough to be imprisoned on these hulks will find these records will add to their family history considerably.

Hulk is the term used for ships that were used by the British government to house prisoners, often those who were awaiting transportation to the penal colonies as part of their sentence. As can be imagined the mortality rate for those held on these ships was high, disease was rife as was violence between the guards and the prisoners and between the prisoners themselves.

The time period covered by these records is 1811 – 1843, a time when there was much unrest in England because of the invention of agricultural machinery which meant that many farm workers were unemployed. This transcript collection has been provided to FindMyPast by Barbara Chambers who is sister to Jill Chambers the acknowledged expert on the Swing Riots. A link to Jill’s website is in the links below.

The records are for the following hulks; Bellerophon, Euryalus, Hardy and Antelope, there are also a few records from Parkhurst Prison.

Wikipedia has a good article about prison hulks which you may find useful if you haven’t come across the term before. They also have an article in which there is a list of British prison ships which could be very useful if you have ancestors who worked on these ships as well as if you have ancestors who were the poor souls imprisoned on them. Links to these websites is below.

Below is an example of an entry for John Taylor.

First name(s) John
Last Name Taylor
Hulk Bellerophon
Recieved From Justitia Hulk Woolwich 19 February 1823
Age 14
Status Boy
Offence Felony
Where And When Convicted Durham 27 February 1822
Sentence 7 years
When Mitigated
How & When Disposed Of
Married Or Single
Read Or Write
Character From Gaoler A notorious bad character





Irish Prison Records go online

clip_image002Today, launched online for the first time the Irish Prison Registers 1790-1920, one of the greatest untapped resources for those tracing their Irish roots.

The original Prison Registers, held at the National Archives of Ireland, cover all types of custodial institutions, from bridewells, to county prisons, to sanatoriums for alcoholics. They contain over 3.5 million entries, spread over 130,000 pages, with most records giving comprehensive details of the prisoner, including: name, address, place of birth, occupation, religion, education, age, physical description, name and address of next of kin, crime committed, sentence, dates of committal and release/decease.

The registers offer a real insight into 18th-19th century Ireland. They present evidence of a society of rebellion and social confrontation, where rioting and assault of police officers were everyday occurrences, and of rampant poverty and destitution, with the theft of everything from handkerchiefs to turnips.

Yorkshire Castle Prison Records Online

York Castle Prison


A great website giving lots of background information about York Castle Prison and of interest to genealogists is the database of criminals who had spent time there. I understand that further databases are to be added in due course, amongst them will be insolvent debtors.

Worth a look even if you don’t have anyone who might have been an inmate.





Biographical database of the 780 First Fleet Convicts. Entries may have quite detailed reports on individual convicts.



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