Criminal records

Criminal records are family history’s guilty pleasure. They reveal your ancestors’ uncomfortable secrets and grisly tales. Plus, governments are keen to keep track of scoundrels, so they’re packed with detail.

Latest criminal records

Bedfordshire Gaol Index1770-1882

This exciting new release from our Web Search project contains details of prisoners doing time in Bedfordshire up until the late 19th century.

The entries contain rich detail that you won’t find anywhere else - such as name, age, hair colour, height, crime, dates of committal and trial, sentence and what became of the prisoners at the end of their sentence.

Birmingham Prisoners1880-1913

This calendar of prisoners from Birmingham runs from 1880-1891 and 1906-1913. If any of your relatives ran foul of the law and landed in prison in Birmingham around this time, here’s the place to look for them.

The records list cases including theft, counterfeiting, loitering and drunkenness, as well as murder and violent robberies. Once you’ve tracked down your family member, you can see details of their offence, previous convictions, plea, verdict and sentence.

Middlesex Sessions1690-1709

Quarter Sessions papers are far more than simple legal records. This Middlesex collection gives a unique insight into the day-to-day workings of the county.

The records can reveal wounded servicemen, women who had been deserted by their husbands, punishments for crimes, licensing issues and much more. There are also several entries about poor relief.

Recommended criminal records

Criminal Registers1791-1892

This mammoth collection is the number one resource for discovering your family’s black sheep. Whether your ancestors brawled in a bar or burnt down a village, their crimes will be detailed here.

The registers list more than half a million reprobates who were charged with any sort of crime all over the United Kingdom. They provide each offender’s name and age, the crime they were accused of, where and when they were tried, and even the verdict and sentence.

Prison Hulk Registers1802-1849

Visit your wayward forebears aboard the famous floating prisons of the 19th Century. The prison hulks sat on the Thames and in Plymouth Harbour and provided a temporary home for thousands of miscreants sentenced to transportation.

Find an ancestor among the 160,000 names here, and you’ll learn their age, offence, where and when they were convicted, plus how and when they left the hulk. After 1837, you’ll also discover the sentence they received, and details of their marital status, literacy and even their occupation.

Australian Transportation1787-1868

In the 18th and 19th Centuries, more than 160,000 lawbreakers were sent to Britain’s latest penal colony — Australia. If your ancestors were among them, you’re almost certain to find them in our huge Transportation Registers collection.

The registers tell you where and when your forebears were convicted, the length of their sentence and where they were sent, plus the name of the ship and the date it left the UK. Most of the crimes aren’t too serious – you might find your relatives setting fire to trees, buying stolen goods or stealing fish from a pond!

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