Convicts: Bound for Australia

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Key to library resources

Access anywhere with a library card In the Library (or anywhere with a Library card for NSW residents)
Available to access in the library Only in the Library
Publicly available online Publicly available

UK Prison hulk registers & letter books, 1802-1849 (HO 9)

How to use UK Prison hulk registers & letter books, 1802-1849 (HO 9)

Only in the Library You can use UK Prison hulk registers & letter books, 1802-1849 (HO 9) when in the Library. Can't come to the Library? Contact us.

How to find out about a convict's time in a hulk

You will need to know either the name of the hulk or the date of conviction to search these registers. Don't know the name of the hulk or the date of conviction? Try resources listed on Beginning your family history research and Prisons & hulks.


Search the chronological list of hulks to find the microfilm reel numbers for the hulks or years of your convict's incarceration.

Some hulks might have multiple entries. Check the chronological list of hulks and then the hulk records explained to find all entries and indexes for a hulk.


Complete a stack request slip (including the microfilm reel numbers) to have staff collect the reels from storage for you.


Use the hulk records explained to find the piece and folio numbers for the hulk registers as well as the indexes. You will also find a description of the contents on the microfilm reel and information about using the indexes.

Each microfilm reel is divided into piece numbers and then into folio numbers which cover different date ranges and different hulks.


Search through the reel for the piece number of the index and then go to the folio number. The piece number is indicated on a reference tag next to each page on the microfilm and the folio number is a stamped number on the top right hand side of every second page.

Find the section covering the first letter of your convict's surname.

Within each letter of the alphabet in the index, names are not listed in strict alphabetical order and you may need to browse through all names for that letter to find your convict.

Example of the information found in an index entry ('3277' is the convict number):

No Name Description
3277 Parrott, Edwin Disposition orderly

The index entry will either have the convict number or the original page number where you will find your convict's record.


Find the folio number for the hulk's records you noted from the hulk records explanatory table and continue to search for the convict number.

Example of the information found in an entry:

No 3277
Name Parrott, Edwin
Age 15
Offence Stg from a dwelling
When 18 Oct 1836
Where Maidstone
Sentence 14 years
How disposed of NSW 22 March 1837

Some hulk records provide more detail such as a character report, if they are known to the authorities, and if they were transferred to other hulks.

With the information gathered from the HO 9 registers, it is now much easier to search through the HO 8 series: Quarterly returns of convicts in gaols and hulks 1824-1876.

Go to the resource online - Ancestry Library Edition


Sometimes convicts spent years on the hulks and might have also been transferred between hulks. As a result, your convict might appear in two or more indexes.

What's in the registers?

This series of registers consists of lists of convicts under sentence of transportation or hard labour, incarcerated in UK hulks and prisons. They contain records for hulks at:

  • Chatham
  • Woolwich
  • Langstone Harbour
  • Sheerness
  • Portsmouth
  • Devonport.

Convicts from counties all over England were incarcerated on hulks in the above areas so it is worthwhile searching these registers.

Did you know?

Not all convicts sent to Australia are listed in these registers and not all convicts who are listed were transported to Australia. While the register might say that they are to be transported, they may have, for example, received a pardon.