Excerpt from the 1828 trial of Henry Sutton. Records of London trials, such as the one above, are freely available from The Proceedings of the Old Bailey online.
English and Welsh trial records
The English and Welsh trial records can be found in the England & Wales Criminal Registers 1792 -1892 available on Ancestry. You can access Ancestry by visiting our eResources portal and searching for this database under the Browse eResources tab. The following information can typically be found on the registers:
- crime, date and place of trial
- when and where received
- date of execution or release
- by whom committed and to whom delivered.
A convict's birth place may be listed on later records.
These records have also been microfilmed as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) collection (HO 26 & HO 27). When consulting the microfilm, use the date of trial from the convict indent to identify the correct microfilm reel from the AJCP Guide for the Home Office.
Records of London trials are available online through The Proceedings of the Old Bailey.
Irish trial records
Information about the crimes of some Irish convicts may be available in the Irish Transportation Records. A searchable online index is available through the National Archives of Ireland. The index is also available for download online in pdf format and in csv format (as a spreadsheet).
Once the index has been searched, records can be accessed online via the Library's Trove service: Transportation records (Ireland to Australia) held by the National Archives of Ireland (as filmed by the AJCP): M2125-M2229
Many of the Irish trial records were destroyed in the 1922 fire at the National Archives of Ireland, Dublin. Records may exist if there was an appeal against the sentence.
Scottish trial records
To find trial records for Scottish convicts, search the National Records of Scotland's website using the convict’s name. You may find a variety of records, including precognition records which usually state the crime committed as well as other personal details about the accused.
Courts martial records
For convicts convicted in military Courts Martial, see the following Registers of Courts Martial held on microfilm in the AJCP collection:
Some civilians may have been tried at Courts Martial if the country or area was under martial law. See the War Office records, 1770-1960 [microform] / as filmed by the AJCP, and use the Finding aid. Alternatively, use the AJCP War Office Handbook for microfilm numbers and request this material via the catalogue to view it in the Library's Newspapers and Family History zone of the Library.
Trial by media
A report of the convict’s trial may appear in a newspaper of the time, often newspapers may be the only source of information about a convict's trial. Try searching for a report of a trial by using your library card to log into eResources. Go to the Browse eResources tab, then search for the following databases:
- British Library Newspapers
- Times Digital Archive
- Irish Newspaper Archive
Alternatively, search the catalogue for relevant newspapers on microfilm.
The British Newspaper Archive may also have newspapers which mention a convict. It is free to search this archive, however you will need to purchase a subscription or pay a fee to view articles.