Criminal registers for England and Wales (1791–1892)
Search criminal registers for England and Wales (HO 26 and HO 27), 1791 to 1892, on Ancestry.co.uk or Findmypast.co.uk (charges apply). The registers list all persons in England and Wales charged with indictable offences (tried by jury) showing the county where prisoners were tried and the sentences if convicted; some of the registers may contain personal information respecting the prisoners.
Many prisoners who were originally sentenced to death may have had their sentences ‘commuted’ to transportation for life or to a term of imprisonment.
Prison hulk registers and letter books (1802-1849) on Ancestry
Search by name for convicts held on prison hulks (HO 9) in England 1802-1849 on Ancestry.co.uk (charges apply). The registers contain basic information on the prisoners and where and when they were convicted.
Prison hulks were ships moored near naval bases to house prisoners – often those awaiting transportation. Many prisoners sentenced to transportation were never actually taken overseas and may have served their whole sentence, or a large part of it, on the hulks.
Use our guide to criminal transportation to find more records relating to criminals sentenced to transportation
Criminals, convicts and prisoners (1770–1935) on Findmypast
Search among the assorted records of criminals, convicts and prisoners on Findmypast.co.uk (charges apply) for:
Home Office records including:
- Home Office: Convicts, Miscellanea (HO 7)
- Quarterly returns of prisoners on hulks 1824-1876 (HO 8)
- Criminal entry books, recording correspondence 1782-1871 (HO 13)
- Criminal petitions 1819-1853 (HO 17) and (HO 18) and registers of criminal petitions (HO 19), see below for more information
- Registers of Prisoners from National Prisons lodged in County Prisons 1847-1866 (HO 23)
- Prison Registers and Statistical Returns 1838-1875 (HO 24)
- Criminal registers, Middlesex (HO 26), and England and Wales (HO 27)
- Judges’ Reports on Criminals 1784-1830 (HO 47)
- Newgate Prison Calendar 1782-1853 (HO 77)
- Miscellaneous Criminal Books 1798-1831 (HO 130)
- Calendars of prisoners 1868-1915 (HO 140, see below for later records not available online)
Prison Commission records including
- Various Prison records (PCOM 2)
- Parole Licences, Male 1853-1887 (PCOM 3) and Female 1853-1887 (PCOM 4)
- Transfer Papers 1843-1871 (PCOM 5)
Other records include
- Metropolitan Police habitual criminals’ registers and miscellaneous papers (MEPO 6)
- Registers of convicts in prison hulks (ADM 6)
- After-trial calendars of prisoners of the Central Criminal Court (CRIM 9)
- Treasury Accounts for Convict Hulks 1802-1831 (T 38)
Refer to the series descriptions of the records using the hyperlinks in the list above to learn more about what is contained in the records. For example, calendars of prisoners in HO 140 and criminal registers in HO 26 and HO 27 are registers of prisoners tried at various courts and include those not convicted, while HO 24 includes prison registers from Parkhurst, Pentonville and Millbank Penitentiary, as well as returns from county gaols.
Petitions for clemency (1819-1853)
Search HO 17 (1819-1839) and HO 18 (1839-1853) by name of prisoner on Findmypast. Petitions in HO 17 are also described in some detail in Discovery and a cataloguing project is adding descriptions to HO 18. Petitions were submitted to the Home Secretary requesting reductions in initial sentences, and sometimes contain background information on the prisoner, their families, their crimes and prison conditions.
The series HO 17 also contains lists of prisoners submitted by prison governors recommending prisoners for pardons for good behaviour.
The series HO 19 records receipt of petitions and some petitions are registered which no longer survive.
Judge’s reports and circuit letters
Other records which may have led to a reduction of sentence can be found through judges’ reports from 1784-1829, which are in series HO 47 and can be searched by name and keyword in our catalogue or among the records digitised on Findmypast.
These can include details of evidence from the trial as well as comments from witnesses, juries and the friends and relatives of the accused.
Licences of parole for female convicts (1853-1871, 1883-1887)
Search by name for licences of parole issued to female convicts (PCOM 4) on Ancestry.co.uk (charges apply). Their contents vary but can include a variety of personal details, reports on behaviour while in prison and (from 1871) photographs.
These are also available through Findmypast.
Photographs of prisoners
The records digitised on Findmypast include albums of photographs of prisoners at Pentonville and Wandsworth prisons and at Oxford Gaol.
The two albums of photographs of prisoners in Wandsworth Prison created in 1872 and 1873 can also be browsed in Discovery at
They can be searched by prisoner’s name in Discovery using the form on this page.
Most records of convicted criminals do not include a photograph.
Prisoners listed in census records (1841-1911)
Search census records (charges apply) for England and Wales from 1841 to 1911 by name of prisoner online. If you find a prison in the census, it will list the names of prisoners present at the time the census was taken.
For advice on finding census returns for prisons see our partner websites.