skip to content

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 for or within references’ 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 (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)
State Archives of New South Wales (Convict records archive)
ScotlandsPeople Centre (The ScotlandsPeople Centre is the official government resource for family history research. Resources include registers of local prisons and sheriff court records and copies of TNA transportation registers 1787-1870. ScotlandsPeople Centre is a partnership between the National Records of Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon. The National Records of Scotland was created on 1 April 2011 by the amalgamation of the National Archives of Scotland and General Register Office for Scotland)
Society of Genealogists and other libraries (1828 Census New South Wales)

Also consult the national and local archives of the country where the convict was transported to.

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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) (Janet Reakes genealogy: Convicts where to start?) (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: 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) (Researching Crime) (Bermuda Online. The site includes an account of British convicts approved by the British Government in London and its Navy Board for transportation to Bermuda to work on HM Dockyard. The site also lists the names of the Hulks sent to Bermuda as convict prison ships) (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 and prisoner lists) (Capital Punishment U.K.) (National Archives of Scotland Research Guide: Crime and Criminals)
Australian Research (Convicts to Australia, A Guide to Researching Your Convict Ancestors) (CoraWeb: Convict Records: An Australian gateway site for tracing your family history by Cora Num) (LINC Tasmania, part of the Department of Education, Tasmanian Government: How can I find out about someone's life as a convict?) (myGov, Australian Government: Convicts and the British colonies in Australia) (State Library of New South Wales: Guides include: Convicts: Bound for Australia; Convicts: Life in the colony) (State Records Office of Western Australia: Convict Records. The collection has records relating to the convict system held by the State Records Office including those created by the Convict Establishment and the Colonial Secretary's Office, as well as the records of various local Courthouses and Police Stations) (Who Do You Think You Are? Tutorials: Australian ancestors: Convict records) (State Library of Queensland: Convict ancestry: Convict research: how to trace a convict ancestor) (State Library of Queensland: Convict research: finding out further family history) (Explore Genealogy: Tracing Ancestors Transported to the Colonies as Criminals) (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)

Online Databases (Australian Convict Collection: Datasets include: England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892[Free Index] extracted from TNA series HO 26 and HO 27; First Fleet registers, 1787-1788; New South Wales and Tasmania, Convict Pardons and Tickets of Leave, 1834-1859; New South Wales, Australia, Certificates of Freedom, 1810-1814, 1827-1867; New South Wales, Australia, Convict Registers of Conditional and Absolute Pardons, 1788-1870; New South Wales, Australia, Tickets of Leave, 1824-1867; 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) (Australian Immigration Collection 1788-1923: Includes Convict Transportation Registers, Registers of Land Grants and Leases, Passenger Lists, Musters, Census Returns)
(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) (Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1775. Records of more than 50,000 English men, women, and children who were sentenced to be deported to the American colonies. The names are extracted from Peter Coldham’s The Complete Book of Emigrants in Bondage in 1988 and its Supplement in 1992) (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) (Datasets include: Australia Convict Ships 1786-1849; Convict Transportation Registers, 1787-1870; New South Wales and Tasmania: Settlers and Convicts, 1787-1859; Australia Convict Conditional and Absolute Pardons, 1791-1867; Convicts in South Australia Sentenced to Transportation, 1836-1852; New South Wales, Butts Of Convicts' Certificates Of Freedom, 1827-1867; New South Wales, Convict Arrivals 1788-1842; Australia Convict Conditional and Absolute Pardons 1791-1867) (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) (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)
(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)
(Gloucestershire, England, Prison Records, 1728-1914)
(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) (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) (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) (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: British 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 including convict related, 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)