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Calendars of Prisoners (Crime & Criminals)

Nature of Source

Names of prisoners held in county prisons awaiting trial at Quarter Sessions and Assizes outside London. Some calendars are pre-trial noting the name of the prisoner and the offence and others post-trial noting the verdict and sentence. Many cases were referred to the Quarter Sessions or Assizes by a magistrate sitting at the lower Petty Session Courts. As the Home Office became more involved in the transportation of criminals in the 19th century, the calendar records can be found at The National Archives.

Most calendars are closed for between 75 to 100 years, except those from 1969 onwards which remain closed for 30 years. The calendars were written in Latin or English before 1733 but wholly in English after this date but were also often printed and published. For a more detailed account of the trial consult the Session minute books, sometimes known as order or court books and the depositions or witness statements held amongst the Quarter Session or Assize records.

Also see
Assize Records
Criminal Petitions
Criminal Registers
General Eyre
License Registers/'tickets of leave'
Petty Sessions
Quarter Session Records
Prison/Hulk/Gaol Registers
Registers of Habitual Criminals
Transported Convicts

Where Found

The National Archives (HO 16, Returns of Committals for Trial at the Old Bailey and Central Criminal Court; HO 77, Newgate Prison Calendar with copies held at the London Metropolitan Archives)
The National Archives (HO 140, Calendar of Prisoners; HO 130/1, Calendar of Prisoners at Winchester; CRIM 5, Calendars of indictments at the Central Criminal Court; CRIM 9, After Trial Calendars of Prisoners at the Central Criminal Court; PCOM 2, Registers of prisoners and habitual criminals)
County Record Offices (Printed and indexed calendars)
British Library (Law and Legal studies. Historical and current resources for the study of law, legislation and society. The Library has a wealth of material to support research on law including legislation, cases and traditional legal commentary)

Period Covered

1350 - 1971

Genealogical Value

Prisoner's name, crime, previous convictions, age, occupation and date taken into custody. The offence (including the name of victim before 1969), verdict and sentence might be noted after the trial. In cases of theft, the victim's name will be noted.

Further References

Bard, Robert. Tyburn: The Story of London's Gallows: Amberley Publishing, 2012

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Bard, Robert. Death in London: Places of Execution, Then and Now: Historical Publications, 2007 Buy Now on Amazon

Bevan, Amanda. Tracing Your Ancestors in the National Archives: The National Archives, 2006

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Brandon, David & Brooke. Alan. London West End 1800-1850 Murders And Misdemeanours: Amberley Publishing, 2009

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Brandon, David & Brooke. Alan. Olde London Punishments: The History Press (30 April 2010 Buy Now on Amazon

Cale, Michelle. Law and Society : an introduction to sources for criminal and legal history from 1800: PRO Publications, 1996

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Campbell, Charles. The Intolerable Hulks: British Shipboard Confinement 1776-1857 Fenestra Books, 2001

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Decharne, Max. Capital Crimes : Seven Centuries of London Life and Murder: Arrow Books, 2013

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Emsley, Clive. Crime and Society in England: 1750-1900: Routledge, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon
Emsley, Clive. Crime and Society in Twentieth Century England: Routledge, 2011 Buy Now on Amazon

Gilfillan, Ross. Crime and Punishment in Victorian London: A Street-Level View of the City's Underworld: Pen & Sword Books, 2014

Gray, Adrian. Crime and Criminals of Victorian England: The History Press, 2011

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Hall, Malcolm. Gloucestershire Murders and Misdemeanours 1820-1829: Amberley Publishing, 2008

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Hawkings, David. Criminal Ancestors: A Guide to Historical Criminal Records in England & Wales: The History Press, 2009

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Hawkings, David. Bound for Australia: A Guide to the Records of Transported Convicts and Early Settlers: The History Press, 2012

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Herber, Mark. Criminal London: A Pictorial History from Medieval Times to 1939: Phillimore & Co, 2002

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Higgs, Michelle. Prison Life in Victorian England: The History Press, 2007

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Hitchcock, Tim & Shoemaker, Bob. Tales from the Hanging Court: Hodder Arnold, 2006

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Howse, Geoffrey. A History of London's Prisons: Wharncliffe True Crime, 2012

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Jack, Elizabeth. A Victorian Prisoners of Gloucester Gaol: A Rogues' Gallery: The History Press, 2009

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Jeaffreson, John Cordy (ed). Middlesex County Records. 4 Vols: Greater London Council, 1972 (1886) (Volumes available to download and view at the Internet Archive or at British History Online)

 

Knapp, Andrew & Baldwin, William. The Newgate Calendar: London, 1828 (Available from: Google Books)

 

Marson, Edward. Prison: Five Hundred Years of Life Behind Bars: The National Archives, 2009  Buy Now on Amazon

May, Trevor. Victorian and Edwardian Prisons: Shire, 2008

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Oates, Dr Jonathan. Tracing Villains and Their Victims: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen and Sword Books, 2017
Paley, Ruth & Fowler, Simon. Family Skeletons: Exploring The Lives of our Disreputable Ancestors: The National Archives, 2005 Buy Now on Amazon
Reake, Janet. How to Trace Your Convict Ancestors: Their Lives, Times and Records: Hale & Iremonger, 1999 Buy Now on Amazon

Stevens, Mark. Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and the Lunatic Asylum: Pen and Sword Books, 2013

Storey, Neil. The Victorian Criminal: Shire Publications, 2011

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Wade, Stephen. Tracing Your Criminal Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen & Sword Books, 2009

Wade, Stephen. Tyranny and the Lash : Prisoners & Punishment in British History: Robert Hale Publishers, 2011

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Watson, Katherine. Poisoned Lives: English Poisoners and their Victims: Hambledon Continuum, 2006

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Woolf, Alex. Past In Pictures : A Photographic View of Crime and Punishment: Wayland Publishers, 2013

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TNA Research Guides

Websites

www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-subject/crime-and-punishment.htm (TNA Guide: Looking for records of crime and punishment)
Your Archives Guide (Calendars of Prisoners, Prison Registers and Prison Returns in The National Archives)
www.dur.ac.uk/4schools/Crime/Intro.htm (Crime and Punishment in Durham. Site includes a glossary, timeline and images of printed calendars)
www.oldbaileyonline.org/static/Linked-records.jsp (Guide and links relating to records for criminal cases)
Old Bailey Sessions Papers and other printed sources for London Criminals

www.londonlives.org/static/Crime.jsp (Researching Crime)
www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/victorians/crime/crimepunishment.html (British Library Learning, Victorians: Crime including Victorian Prisons and Executions and Transportations)
www.cyndislist.com/prisons.htm (Links to relevant sources and resources)
http://vcp.e2bn.org (Victorian Crime and Punishment resources for crime and punishment in the 19th Century)
www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/guildhall-library/family-history/Pages/Sources-for-tracing-London-criminals.aspx (Guildhall Library: Sources for Tracing London Criminals including Old Bailey Sessions Papers, Accounts of the Ordinary of Newgate, the British Trials microfiche and the Criminal Register Indexes)
www.exclassics.com/newgate/ngintro.htm (Free download of the Newgate Calendar based chiefly on the Navarre Society 1926 edition)
http://blacksheepancestors.com/uk/prisons.shtml (Prisons, Prisoners & Convicts in the United Kingdom)
http://blacksheepancestors.com (Links to UK, US & Canadian criminal resources)
www.victorianweb.org/history/crime (Crime related essays covering Victorian England)
www.genuki.org.uk (Information covering UK & Ireland including mugshots & prisoner lists)
www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/index.html (Capital Punishment U.K.)
www.nas.gov.uk/guides/crime.asp (Research Guide Crime and Criminals)
www.londonancestor.com (Descriptions of London places and buildings including prisons)

Online Databases

www.findmypast.co.uk (England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935. Were your ancestors in trouble with the law? Follow them through over 3 million records of criminals who passed through the justice system in England and Wales between 1779 and 1935. For updates and other resources see Crime, Prisons and Punishment. These record sets are produced in association with the National Archives and include: Registers of Convicts in Prison Hulks, Ref: ADM 6; After-Trial Calendars of Prisoners, Ref: CRIM 9; Convicts, Miscellanea, Ref: HO 7; Convict Hulks, Convict Prisons and Criminal Lunatic Asylums: Quarterly Returns of Prisoners 1824-1876, Ref: HO 8; Criminal Entry Books 1782-1871, Ref: HO 13; Criminal Petitions Series I, Ref: HO 17; Criminal Petitions Series II, Ref: HO 18; Register of Criminal Petitions, Ref: HO 19; Registers of Prisoners from National Prisons lodged in County Prisons 1847-1866, Ref: HO 23; Prison Registers and Statistical Returns 1838-1875, Ref: HO 24; Judges’ Reports on Criminals 1784-1830, Ref: HO 47; Criminal Registers, Middlesex, Ref: HO 26; Criminal Registers, England and Wales, Ref: HO 27; Newgate Prison Calendar 1782-1853, Ref: HO 77; Miscellaneous Criminal Books 1798-1831, Ref: HO 130; Calendar of Prisoners, Ref: HO 140; Habitual Criminals' Registers and Miscellaneous Papers, Ref: MEPO 6; Prison Records, Ref: PCOM 2; Male Licences 1853-1887, Ref: PCOM 3; Female Licences, Ref: PCOM 4; Old Captions and Transfer Papers 1843-1871, Ref: PCOM 5 Convict Hulks 1802-1831, T 38/310-338; Treasury: Departmental Accounts, Convict Hulks, Ref: T 38)
www.findmypast.co.uk (London Lives, Culture & Society 1680-1817. London Lives chronicles the lives of Londoners through the exploration of a variety of sources including criminal registers, session papers, ordinary’s accounts from Old Bailey, apprentice records, coroner inquests, workhouse minutes, Register of admissions to workhouse, clerks’ papers, Churchwarden's account books, Vestry minute books/vestry minutes, Register of removal orders, Pauper examination books/examination books, bastardy bonds and much more)
www.findmypast.co.uk (Hue & Cry Index 1797-1810. Index of published notices of wanted criminals and the offences they committed. This index includes information on many who were sentenced to transportation in the Australian colonies)
www.findmypast.co.uk
(Middlesex, London, Old Bailey Court Records 1674-1913. Explore over 782,000 court records from London's Old Baily/Central Criminal Court, the central criminal court of England & Wales. The collection is composed of both transcripts and links to images of the original documents)
www.ancestry.co.uk (Birmingham, England, Calendar of Prisoners, 1880-1891 and 1906-1913. This collection is a calendar or list of prisoners from Birmingham as recorded from the Quarter Sessions and Assizes)
www.findmypast.co.uk
(City of York Calendars of Prisoners 1739-1851. Records of prisoners held at York Castle)
www.findmypast.co.uk (Devon, Plymouth Prison Records 1832-1919. The collection is formed from a variety of sources including prisoner registers, calendars of prisoners and registers of prison officers)
www.ancestry.co.uk (Gloucestershire, England, Prison Records, 1728-1914)
www.ancestry.co.uk
(UK, Police Gazettes, 1812-1902, 1921-1927. This collection contains printed publications used for communication between members of the police force in the United Kingdom between 1812 and 1927, with gaps in coverage. It contains information on wanted criminals, crimes committed, criminals who had been apprehended, and missing persons)
Online Catalogues (Listing of online catalogues for the partial whereabouts of records including Access to Archives [A2A])
www.staffsnameindexes.org.uk (Staffordshire Name Indexes, brought to you by Staffordshire & Stoke On Trent Archive Service: Calendars of Prisoners at Staffordshire Quarter Sessions, 1779-1880)
www.ancestry.co.uk
(Dorset, Calendars of Prisoners, 1854-1904; Dorset Records: Dorchester Prison Admission and Discharge Registers, 1782-1901)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/victorian-prisoners-photograph-albums-1872-1873 (The National Archives: Victorian prisoners’ photograph albums 1872-1873. These records taken from series PCOM 2/290 and PCOM 2/291 can be searched or downloaded and contain photos and details of prisoners in Wandsworth prison)
www.oldbaileyonline.org (Old Bailey Proceedings Online: Online edition of the Old Bailey Proceedings containing accounts and calendars of trials held at London's central criminal court, equivalent to the assizes. Expect to find the names, address and occupations of the accused, the victims and witnesses as well as the names of judges and jurors. These are accounts of the trials written by journalists and are not public records. The contents of Old Bailey Online can also be searched at Connected Histories together with a number of other databases)
www.manchester-family-history-research.co.uk/new_page_18.htm (Manchester And Lancashire strays in Millbank Prison)
http://heritage.warwickshire.gov.uk/warwickshire-county-record-office/county-record-office-resources-and-catalogues (Warwickshire County Record Office: Calendars of Prisoners, 1800-1900. The database is an index to the ‘Calendars of Prisoners’ or lists of those held in the County Prisons in Warwick, Birmingham and Coventry for trial at the Assize and the Quarter Sessions courts held in Warwick)
http://genuki.cs.ncl.ac.uk/DEV/CourtRecords/Prisoners.html (Calendars of Prisoners extracted from Devon Quarter Sessions, 1655-1882; transcribed by Brian Brassett)
http://vcp.e2bn.org (Prisoner records 1799-1898)
www.llgc.org.uk/sesiwn_fawr/index_s.htm (Index to the Gaol Files of the Court of Great Sessions in Wales, 1730-1830. The database contains information on criminals and their crimes and punishments as well as details on the victims. Records from less serious crimes heard at Quarter Sessions are held at county record offices and can be searched at Archives Wales. Monmouthshire formed part of the Oxford circuit and are available from The National Archives at Kew)
https://familysearch.org
(Wales, Court and Miscellaneous Records, 1542-1911. This collection contains browsable images of Court Records and Marriage Bonds from the National Library of Wales. Records include Consistory Court papers, Court records-Crown Books, Court records-gaol files, Marriage bonds and Memoranda of the Great Sessions)
www.nas.gov.uk/guides/highCourt.asp (Online access to catalogued and indexed criminal trials held in the High Court of Justiciary, 1800-1930)
http://johnjohnson.chadwyck.co.uk/marketing.do (John Johnson Collection: An Archive of printed Ephemera: The collection provides access to scanned items from the Bodleian Library's holdings documenting various aspects of everyday life in Britain from the 18th to the early 20th century including posters and handbills for theatrical and non-theatrical entertainments, broadsides relating to murders and executions, book and journal prospectuses, popular topographical prints. The contents of John Johnson Collection can also be searched at Connected Histories together with a number of other databases)
http://digital.nls.uk/broadsides (National Library of Scotland Digital Gallery: The Word On The Street: Online collection of nearly 1,800 Scottish broadsides between 1650 and 1910)
http://broadsides.law.harvard.edu (Online collection of more than 500 broadsides)
www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/ballads/ballads.htm (Online collection of 30,000 broadside ballads)

Check local history societies for transcribed and indexed calendars.

CD Roms

Archive CD Books (Newgate Calendar)