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

Prison commission prison books, 1816-1866 (PCOM 2)

How to use Prison commission prison books, 1816-1866
(PCOM 2)

Only in the Library You can use Prison commission prison books, 1816-1866 (PCOM 2) when in the Library. Can't come to the Library? Contact us.

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

We hold some of the Prison Commission prison books in the Mitchell Library as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) collection. We hold the books that cover the below prisons and hulks:

  • Prisons: Millbank (1837-1852), Pentonville (1816-1854; not all years are included), Newgate (1817-1837; prisoners sentenced to death) and Portland - Dorset (1848-1866)
  • Hulks: Defence (1849-1857), Stirling Castle (1837-1849), Retribution (1837-1849), York (1841-1851) and Europa - Gibraltar (1840-1855)


Collect Index to the Prison commission prison books from the shelves in the Special Collections area (Mitchell Library). The index is in microfiche 'Box 59' on the shelf labelled AJCP Indexes.


Search the index (sorted alphabetically by surname) to find the microfilm reel number, piece number and prisoner number.

  • A prisoner might be listed several times if they have moved prisons so be sure to note all entries.
  • Visit the GENUKI website for explanation of the abbreviations used for counties in the index.

Example of the information found in an index entry:

Name (Alias) BELL(BRUCE) James
Age 20
County MLN
Date (sent to) 28/03/38
Ship/Prison/Hulk Lord Lyndoch
Destination NSW
Reel 5987
Piece No. 2/135
Prisoner No 3885


Complete a stack request slip (including the microfilm reel number) at the Special Collections desk in the Mitchell Library for staff to collect the microfilm reel for you.


Search for the 'piece' or section on the microfilm reel to find a description card with the name of the prison.


Search for the prisoner number from the index to find the record for your convict.

Example of the information found in a record (record covers two pages):

Number 3885
Name Jas Bruce or Bell
Age 20
Offence Theft by housebkg
When Where
5 July
Sentence 14
Gaolers Report Condt imprd.
Very indift.
Char. Indift.
Where Born Stirling
Hair Bro
Eyes Dk gy
Eyebrows & Lashes Bro
Nose Lge
Mouth Com
Complexion Fsh
Visage Ov
Make St
or Single
Ft In
5 3 1/2
or Write
Trade or
Remarks Scar back of head,
bridge of nose and
between the shoulders
Residence of
prisoners relatives or friends
How disposed of NSW per
Lord Lyndoch
28 March 1838

Go to the resource

What's in the prison books?

The information recorded in the Prison commission prison books is strongest for 1840-1866. Information varies from prison to prison.

Did you know?

Not all convicts listed in the Prison commission prison books were ever sent out to Australia and not all convicts sent to Australia are listed here.

More help

Didn't find your convict in the index entry?

There are several other Prison Commission registers held at The National Archives (UK). Check Micro reference book 2.2 PCOM/1: PCOM 2 Prison Commission. Prison Books 1816-1866 (pages 7-19) for a list of registers.

Ask at the Information desk in the Mitchell Library.