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Transported Convicts (Crime & Criminals) (Including Scotland)

Nature of Source

Records of convicts (including many women convicts) sentenced to transportation to America and other colonies or who had a death sentence commuted to transportation. Prison hulk records must also be consulted as convicts were held in the hulks prior to transportation. Prisoners were held in prison hulks whilst awaiting transportation which were used until 1857. Also consult petitions and pardons and applications for clemency held at The National Archives.

Also research the state archives of the country to which the convict was sent with the penal colony censuses of particular relevance. Not all of those transported were criminals but may have been political prisoners, vagrants and debtors. Convict transportation to America began in 1615 and ended in 1776 after the thirteen colonies rejected the authority of the British Crown and declared their independence, thus triggering the War of Independence otherwise known as the American Revolution which lasted until 1782. After America attained independence in 1776, Australia became established as a penal colony. The level of criminal transportation to Australia declined towards the mid-19th century and ceased completely by 1868.

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

Where Found

The National Archives (HO 10, Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania including convict censuses; HO 11, Home Office: Convict Transportation Registers; HO 12, Home Office: Criminal Department: Old Criminal Papers. Records within series HO 10 and HO11 are available to download free of charge as part of the Digital Microfilm project. Transcripts of the HO 11 registers can be accessed via the State Library of Queensland website)
The National Archives (C 66, patent rolls; SP 35-77, state papers, domestic; ASSI 24, Western assize transportation order books; TS 18, Treasury Solicitor: General Series Papers including some records concerning the transportation of convicts; PC 1, Privy Council and Privy Council Office: Subjects dealt with include prisoners and convicts; CO 386, Colonial Office: Land and Emigration Commission)
The National Archives (ADM 101, Medical Journals, 1785-1963. The journals contain an account of the treatment of medical and surgical cases, and usually a copy of the daily sick list, statistical abstracts of the incidence of diseases, and general comments on the health and activities of the ship's company. The name index covering series ADM 101 is available at the TNA Discovery catalogue. First click on ‘Advanced search’ and then type in the name being searched. Then under ‘Search within’ select ‘Enter a reference’ and type ‘ADM 101’. A selection of records from ADM 101 are available to download free of charge as part of the Digital Microfilm project.
The National Archives (MT 32, Surgeon Superintendents' Journals of Convict Ships, 1858-1867)
County Record Offices (Transportation bonds, transportation agents papers and landing certificates)
British Library (Legal cases, law reports and judgments)
State Archives of New South Wales (Convict records archive)
National Records of Scotland (Registers of local prisons and sheriff court records and copies of TNA transportation registers 1787-1870. The National Records of Scotland was created on 1 April 2011 by the amalgamation of the National Archives of Scotland [NAS] and General Register Office for Scotland [GROS])
Society of Genealogists and other libraries (1828 Census New South Wales)

Period Covered

1615 - 1867

Genealogical Value

Name, address, occupation and age of person ordered to be transported. Name of ship and destination. Date and place of trial with sentence. Family relationships might be mentioned.

Further References

Transported Related  
Bateson, Charles. The Convict Ships, 1787-1868: Brown, Son & Ferguson, 1985  Buy Now on Amazon
Beddoe, Deirdre Welsh Convict Women: A Study of Women Transported from Wales to Australia, 1787-1852: S.Williams, 1979 Buy Now on Amazon
Coldham, Peter Wilson. The Complete Book of Emigrants, 1614-1775: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon
Coldham, Peter Wilson. The Complete Book of Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1775: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon
For other Peter Coldham titles, some out of print, see  
Griffin, Ken. Transported Beyond the Seas: An Alphabetical Listing of Criminals Prosecuted in Hertfordshire who Received Transportation Sentences to Australia 1784-1866: Hertfordshire Family History Society, 2006  
Hawkings, David. Bound for Australia: A Guide to the Records of Transported Convicts and Early Settlers: The History Press, 2012 Buy Now on Amazon
Hughes, Robert. The Fatal Shore: History of the Transportation of Convicts to Australia, 1787-1868: Vintage, 2003 Buy Now on Amazon
Num, Cora. Convict Records in Australia: C. Num, 2003  
Vaver, Anthony. Bound with an Iron Chain: The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America: Pickpocket Publishing, 2011 Buy Now on Amazon
Crime General  

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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Cockburn, James Swanton. Calendar of Assize Records (Volumes cover the Home Circuit as well as the Kent, Sussex, Hertfordshire, Essex, Surrey and Somerset circuits. Preview of the Kent Indictments available from Google Books. Other digitised Assize records can be found at the Internet Archive)  

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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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:
Criminal transportees: further research
Looking for records of a criminal transportee

For other Peter Coldham titles, some out of print, see

Websites (TNA Guide: Looking for records of crime and punishment) (British Library Learning, Victorians: Crime including Victorian Prisons and Executions and Transportations) (Convicts to Australia, A Guide to Researching Your Convict Ancestors) (Convict Records: An Australian gateway site for tracing your family history by Cora Num)
(Janet Reakes genealogy: Convicts where to start?) (Explore Genealogy: Tracing Ancestors Transported to the Colonies as Criminals) (Australian History: Convicts)
(State Library of Queensland Convicts Resources: Websites, books and more including Info Guides for family historians)
(National Archives of Ireland: Genealogy records: Ireland-Australia transportation records, 1791-1853. Guides include ‘Sources in the National Archives for research into the transportation of Irish convicts to Australia, 1791-1853’ by Rena Lohan and Frequently Asked Questions on transportation to Australia) (Guide to the Highlands and Islands Emigration Society) (Scottish Archive Network guide: My ancestor was transported) (TNA Guide: Looking for a person? Criminals, bankrupts and litigants) (Descriptions of London places and buildings including prisons) (Guide and links relating to records for criminal cases) (The Historical Background to the Proceedings of the Old Bailey: Includes a glossary of judicial terms, explanations of types and categories of indictable offences, trial procedures, verdicts, punishments and other topics) (Guildhall Library: Old Bailey Sessions Papers and other printed sources for London Criminals) (Guildhall Library: Sources for tracing London criminals) (London Metropolitan Archives: Information Leaflet Number 40: Sessions Records for the City of London and Southwark) (Researching Crime) (Links to relevant sources and resources) (Victorian Crime and Punishment resources for crime and punishment in the 19th Century) (Free download of the Newgate Calendar based chiefly on the Navarre Society 1926 edition) (Prisons, Prisoners & Convicts in the United Kingdom) (Links to UK, US & Canadian criminal resources) (Crime related essays covering Victorian England) (information covering UK & Ireland including mugshots & prisoner lists) (Victorian London Public Institutions) (Capital Punishment U.K.) (National Archives of Scotland Research Guide: Crime and Criminals)

Online Databases (Australian Convict Collection with some free indexes including Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 extracted from TNA series HO 26 and HO 27 and First Fleet registers, 1787-1788; New South Wales, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896. See other databases under Immigration & Travel which includes convict registers and registers of Free Settlers; Transcriptions from the TNA copy of the New South Wales Census, 1828; Convict Transportation Registers: 1787-1868, including Convict Musters, 1806-1849, Convict Lists, 1787-1834 and Convict Pardons, 1834-1859 extracted from TNA series HO 10)
(Middlesex, England, Convict Transportation Contracts, 1682-1787: This is a collection of Middlesex Quarter Sessions Court orders for convicts to be transferred to British Colonies. Specifically the convicts were transferred to America, the Caribbean, or, in later years, Australia. Provided in association with London Metropolitan Archives) (Dorset Records: Transportation Records, 1724-1791) (Tickets of Leave, New South Wales, Australia, 1824-1867. The Tickets were granted to convicts allowing limited freedoms and provide detailed personal information) (Convict Transportation Registers 1787-1867: Transcribed details with images of convicts transported to Australia during the 18th and 19th centuries extracted from TNA series HO 10 and HO 11. Those transported originated from England, Wales and Scotland including a small number of Irish convicts. The data includes details of convicts transported on the First Fleet as well as details of soldiers who had been court-martialed and sentenced to transportation)
TNA Online Collections (Victorian prisoners' photograph albums 1872-1873. TNA Online Collections is produced by The National Archives and contains online access to indexes, transcriptions and digital images of some of the TNA's most important holdings. Searches are free but a fee is levied for each downloaded item. However downloads are free if used at TNA or the Society of Genealogists) (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) (Convict arrivals in New South Wales 1788-1842) (Lincolnshire Convicts Transported: Database of nearly 2000 convicts known to have been transported from Lincolnshire between 1788 and 1868 to Australia, Gibraltar and Bermuda) (GENfair Search Services: Convict Index. Requests for an individual search for a fee of persons transported to Australia, 1787-1868 with all counties represented) (National Archives of Ireland Ireland-Australia Transportation Database: Searchable index of Irish convicts transported to Australia during the years 1780-1868) (State Library of Queensland: Convict Transportation Registers Database, 1787-1867. Details of over 123,000 convicts transported to Australia extracted from TNA series HO 11) (Transcribed passenger, convict and crew lists of vessels arriving and departing from Australia and New Zealand, 1788-1968. The site also includes details of the ships and shipping movements. Much of the site's content is available on CD) (Irish Genealogy: Online search facility allowing users to search across a number of databases from different suppliers covering the following sources: 1901 and 1911 census returns; Griffiths Valuations; Tithe Applotment Records; Soldiers Wills; Military Archives; Ellis Island Records; Castle Garden Records; Ireland-Australia Transportation Database) (Highlands and Islands Emigration Society Passenger Lists, 1852-1857) (Index to Tasmanian Convicts: Lists of convicts transported to Tasmania, 1804-1853) (Biographical database of the 780 convicts who sailed with the First Fleet. Also available at under Immigration & Travel) (State Records Authority of New South Wales: Various indexes, see web site for more details) (NSW Tickets of Leave 1810-1875) (Immigrant Servants Database: Details of individuals who travelled to colonial America between 1607 and 1820 as indentured servants, redemptioners [a person who worked as a servant to pay for the cost of the voyage] and transported convicts. About 50 per cent of the individuals listed do not appear in Filby's Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, which is considered one of the best sources of immigrant lists. Those only suspected of being servant are excluded. Slaves and poor orphans have been filtered out. Expect to find the name, date of birth, address and occupation of servant; the colony and date of servitude; the port of departure, place of arrival, year of immigration, name of ship and length of indenture)

Check Australian State Records Offices for other indexes and transcriptions.

CD Roms

Genealogical Publishing Company (Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607-1776 and British Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1788 both by Peter Wilson Coldham
Archive CD Books (Newgate Calendar) (Sentenced to Death & Transportation, Yorkshire 1830 -1839. The information for this database is taken from a number of records both in this country and Australia)
Parish Register Transcription Society
(Sussex Convicts Transported to Australia 1789-1867)
Ozships (Transcribed passenger, convict and crew lists of vessels arriving and departing from Australia and New Zealand, 1788-1968. The CD also includes details of the ships and shipping movements)