Crime, Prisons and Punishment

This is the biggest set of criminal records detailing the fate of prisoners and their victims. For the first time, you can search online for your criminal ancestors. Each record will provide a wide variety of color and detail recounting the fate of criminals ranging from tea cup heists, con artists, counterfeits, burglars and killers, as well as in many cases what came of their victims.

This is an evolving family history collection from The National Archives of criminals both large and small who got caught in the English and Wales law and order system. More than 2.5 million records dating from 1770-1934 will be easy to search on findmypast. The criminal records from 1770 to 1934 will be published online in the coming months.

We have painstakingly published online entire registers containing mug shots of habitual drunks that feature incredible descriptions of criminals’ appearances, demeanor and identifying marks. It is a chance to learn specific details and see the faces of your ancestors.

The information in the records comes from a variety of Government departments including the Home Office, Prison Commission, Metropolitan Police, Central Criminal Court and the Admiralty.

More Prison Records

Prison ship (Hulk) registers

Search records for around 8,900 prisoners held on prison ships between 1811 and 1843. Prison ships, or hulks, were ships used as floating prisons – often ships were used that were no longer fit for battle although they were still able to float.

This collection of records includes details of prisoners on the following hulks: Bellerophon, Euryalus, Hardy and Antelope, as well as a small number of records for Parkhurst prison.

You may find that your ancestors appear in more than one hulk as they could have been transferred from one hulk to another.

Manchester Prison Registers
Here you can search 247,765 prison records covering the period 1847-1881.

Workhouses and poor law

These legal record sets will contain workhouse and poor law records, including those from Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Manchester.

The Poor Law Act of 1601 (called the 'Old Poor Law') began the use of workhouses to handle the poor, which experienced success and expansion during the 18th century. The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1868 established that workhouse authorities should record in Creed Books each inmate's religious affiliation as a way of ensuring that each person's religious instruction could be met and adhered to.

Bury Union Workhouse Records

Bury's first workhouse, also known as the Redvales workhouse, was built in 1775 in Bury, Lancanshire. In a parliamentary report from 1777, the town of Bury was listed as having a workhouse with accommodation for 50 inmates. It was renamed the Jericho Institution in 1929, and by 1948 it became the Fairfield Hospital.

Bury Union Workhouse (Jericho Institution) Admission Registers
Bury Union Workhouse (Jericho Institution )Discharge Registers
Bury Union Workhouse (Jericho Institution )Creed Registers

Please note the original records for the Bury Union institution are now held at Bury Archives.

Cheshire Workhouse Records

The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act established nine poor-law unions in Cheshire, each with its own workhouse. Here you can search for your ancestors in around 64,000 individual records, which span the period 1781-1910.

Workhouse records include:

Cheshire Workhouse Records, Admissions and Discharges
Cheshire Workhouse Records, Religious Creeds

Derbyshire Workhouse Records

These records contain the name index to the reports of the relieving officer of the Derby Board of Guardians of the Derby Union Workhouse. The records cover the short period from June 1842 to December 1842, but include 2,235 names and associated information.

Manchester Workhouse Registers 1800-1911

Match Workers' Strike, Bow 1888

These records provide the details of 714 East London match workers who went on strike against oppressive working conditions and unfair treatment in July 1888. The event is now considered a milestone in the history of British trade unions.

Courts & Legal

This courts and legal records collection includes:

Bankrupt Directory

Records transcribed from The Bankrupt Directory by George Elwick. The record set contains details of all bankruptcies recorded in The London Gazette between December 1820 and April 1843.

Wiltshire Quarter Session Calenders

Records comprising 67,406 court records for the period 1728 to 1859 that list victims, witnesses and perpetrators of crimes.

Wiltshire Removal Orders

Records contain more than 20,000 names of individuals removed from Wiltshire parishes and returned to their place of settlement, which includes dates from 1670 to 1890.


Bexley Asylum Minute Books
Contains almost 12,000 records related to patients, staff and contractors at the Bexley or Heath Asylum in Kent, outside London from 1901 until 1939.

Prestwich Asylum Admissions
Contains 22,722 records listing male and female admissions to the Prestwich asylum from its opening in January 1851 through the end of March 1901.

Salisbury Infirmary Admissions & Discharges

This collection consists of more than 100,000 records of admissions and discharges from Salisbury Infirmary between 1761 and 1832. The entries have been transcribed from 10 minute-books, which were updated once a week.

Clubs and Societies

Manchester Naturalisation Society 1896-1909

Here you can search records of 542 individuals included in a cash book for the Manchester Naturalisation Society 1896-1909. The Manchester Naturalisation Society was formed in January 1896. It received 123 members in the first year, of whom 16 received naturalisation certificates.

The Naturalisation Society raised funds for the certificates by asking members to pay fees of 1 shilling per week. Once sufficient funds had been gathered, a ballot was held and the winners were put forward to receive their naturalisation papers. The records tell you the name of your ancestor, the amount they paid to the fund, and the date of their payment.