Criminal trials took place in the Courts of Assizes, Courts of Quarter Sessions courts and in the Old Bailey in London. Records of criminal trials may be hard to find or may not have been kept.
The place and date of trial and the crime committed is usually found on the convict indent or arrival records. Early idents may not show the convict's crime.
In addition, For English and Welsh convicts, the Criminal Registers 1792 -1892 of the Home Office at HO 26 & HO 27 give the convict’s name, age, crime, date and place of trial amongst other details.
These records are indexed and digitised in Ancestry.com, under UK records, and are also on the microfilm copies of series HO 26 & HO27 in the Australian Joint Copying Project. Use the date of trial from the Convict Indent to identify the correct microfilm from the AJCP Guide for the Home Office. AJCP Guides and microfilms are found in the newspapers and Microforms Reading Room.
You may find an entry giving trial date and place for your convict in the Crime, Prisons & Punishment 1770-1934 in FindMyPast UK in eResources. This database includes:
- Registers of Convicts in Prison Hulks ADM6 1818 – 1831
- Central Criminal Court: after-trial calendars of prisoners CRIM9 1855 – 1931
- Calendar of Prisoners HO140) 1868 – 1929
- Criminal Petitions HO171817-1858
Records of London trials are available online at The Proceedings of the Old Bailey.
For convicts convicted in military Courts Martial, see the Registers of Courts Martial at WO86, WO89, WO90, WO92 and WO93 on microfilm in the Australian Joint Copying Project(AJCP). Some civilians may have been tried at Courts Martial if the country or area was under Martial Law. See the AJCP War Office Handbook for microfilm numbers.
A report of a convict trial may appear in a newspaper of the time. Try the online newspaper services in eResources:
- 19th Century British Library Newspapers
- British Newspaper Archive
- Times Digital Archive 1787 - 2007
- Irish Newspaper Archives and
- 17th to 18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers
Check the Library’s catalogue for other British newspapers of the times, on microfilm.
The British Police Gazette, at times called Hue and Cry may also have records of crimes committed.