Saturday, 30 June 2012

Beyond the Internet: Week 25 Gaol records

Continuing the weekly theme, inspired by Family History Across the Seas

Back in April I explored as part of the A-Z Challenge the life of convict Henry Goucher. You can read these posts HERE and HERE. I also explored a new piece of research which pertains to the convict Robert Turpin.

In both of these cases, the two convicts were tried at the Old Bailey in London and sentenced. In the case of Henry Goucher he was sentenced to death, but this was commuted to life and Robert Turpin was sentenced to life. Both were transported to Australia.

As part of the research I found that they had been held in hulk ships before being transferred to larger vessels in order to make the long passage to Australia. Once they arrived there is further documentation which shows where there were held and we can gain a rough idea of the work they did.

Henry Goucher was to eventually gain his freedom in Australia when he was in his late 50s. Robert Turpin is rather more complex - there are two Robert's in the same area, during the same time frame and I need to do some further digging to establish the fate of "my" Robert.

Not all prisoners were transported. Some served their sentence or perhaps sentences within English prisons. Records that have survived the test of time are usually at the National Archives or the County Records Offices. Records are closed for 100 years and should you research the destiny of a prisoner convicted since 1912 his (or hers) record will be closed which does rather limit the scope for research, but there may well be a reference in the newspapers of the time.


  1. We don't have the 100 year rule in the US and one of my cousins was able to get the prison records of her grandfather. It turned out he was more of a petty thief than the big time gangster she had thought he was.

  2. Thanks for joining in Julie. prison records can be so informative and helpful but I admit I'm glad my rellie was "only" what we'd now call a white collar criminal.


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