Convicts: Bound for Australia

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visitors are kindly advised that this website includes images, sounds and names of people who have passed.

All users should be aware that some topics or historical content may be culturally sensitive, offensive or distressing, and that some images may contain nudity or are of people not yet identified. Certain words, terms or descriptions may reflect the author's/creator's attitude or that of the period in which they were written, but are now considered inappropriate in today's context.

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

Quarterly returns of convicts in gaols and hulks, 1824-1876 (HO 8)

How to use Quarterly returns of convicts in gaols and hulks, 1824-1876 (HO 8)

Only in the Library You can use Quarterly returns of convicts in gaols and hulks, 1824-1876 (HO 8) 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

You will need to know the prison/hulk or conviction date as there is no index of convicts included in the Quarterly Returns.

Don't know the hulk or date of conviction? Try searching UK Prison hulk registers & letter books, 1802-1849 (HO 9) or other resources in this guide.




Collect the Micro Reference Book 2.2 HO/4: HO8-9: Convict prisons 1802-1869 at the Special Collections desk in the Mitchell Library.


Use the book to find the microfilm reel number that has the Quarterly Returns for the prison or hulk of your convict's confinement. The list of prisons and hulks is sorted by year.

We recommend noting the order of the prison and hulks as this is the same order on the microfilm reel.

Example of a list of prisons and hulks:

PRO Reel 5189
Vol. 48, June 1836
Leviathan Portsmouth
York Portsmouth
Fortitude Chatham
Euryalus Chatham
Justitia Woolwich
Ganymede Woolwich
Antelope Bermuda
Dromedery Bermuda
Coromandel Bermuda


Complete a stack request slip (including the microfilm reel number) to have staff collect the microfilm reel for you.


Find the prison or hulk on the microfilm reel. Refer to the order of prison and hulks in the book to help with finding the prison or hulk.

Sometimes the prison or hulk name is at the beginning of the Quarterly Returns or at end of the list.

Also, it might not be clear which records you are searching. We recommend using to the reference tag (for example, HO 8/48) next to each page on the microfilm reel to help work out which volume or 'piece' you are searching. However sometimes the only way of distinguishing each sequence is to use the prisoner numbers.


Use the prisoner number to locate your convict's entry.

Search UK Prison hulk registers & letter books, 1802-1849 (HO 9) to find the convict's prisoner number.

Can't find the prisoner number? You will need to search through the Quarterly Returns until you find your convict's name (not in alphabetical order).

Example of the information found in an entry:

No. on SB 2499
Name William Hay
Age 23
Offence Larceny
Where Cent.Crim.Court
When 4th Jany 1836
Sentence 7 yrs
Surgeon's Report Healthy
Behavior during the quarter Good


Repeat the above steps to see if your convict is listed in earlier or later quarterly returns to track the progress of their incarceration.

Go to the resource

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.

This series of registers consists of lists of convicts under sentence of transportation or hard labour, incarcerated in UK hulks and prisons.

Cumberland & Dolphin hulks

If you find your convict on the Cumberland or Dolphin hulks, you can also search the Admiralty and Secretariat. Registers, returns and certificates. Various (ADM 6).

Ask at the Special Collections desk in the Mitchell Library.

Search Returns & Registers

There is some overlap in the institutions covered by the Home Office Quarterly Returns of Convicts 1824-1876 (HO 8) and the Prison Commission Prison Registers 1816-1866 (PCOM 2) so it may be worth checking both as the information about the convict may differ.