Tracing London Convicts in Britain & Australia, 1780-1925

This website allows you to search millions of records from around fifty datasets, relating to the lives of 90,000 convicts from the Old Bailey. Use our site to search individual convict life archives, explore and visualise data, and to learn more about crime and criminal justice in the past.

What actually happened to defendants sentenced to death?

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is shown on the left and on the right. All of these defendants were sentenced to death between 1810 and 1815. But many Old Bailey defendants who were sentenced to death were not actually executed. This Sankey diagram shows what actually happened to them. See all the results

See also

Capital Convictions at the Old Bailey

Featured articles
[Anonymous], Prison Hulks on the River Thames, Woolwich (c. 1856). © Greenwich Local History Library.

Convict Hulks

The majority of the convicts whose lives are documented in the Digital Panopticon spent some time on the hulks.

Hulks were decommissioned (and often unseaworthy) ships that were moored in rivers and estuaries and refitted to become floating prisons. Originating with the penal crisis caused by the outbreak of war with America in 1775, the hulks were intended as a temporary expedient for housing convict prisoners, but they remained in use for over eighty years. Find out more

See also

Transportation

George Moutard Woodward, 'The deaf judge, or mutual misunderstanding' (1796)

Petitions for Pardon

Several record sets included on this site contain details of the petitions submitted by offenders and/or their families and friends to the Home Office for the reduction or revocation of their sentences.

The Home Office usually, although not always, forwarded the petition and any supporting documents to the trial judge (or the Recorder of London, if it was a case from the capital), asking for a recommendation on the case.

Pardons provide some of the richest detail available on the lives of offenders. In putting forward the grounds for mercy, petitions often provide details of the offender’s life and circumstances at the time of the crime. Find out more

See also

The Old Bailey Criminal Trial
Sentencing

Life of the week
Mary Ann was born in Kingston upon Hull to William and Eleanor White in 1840. The pattern of Mary Ann’s offending is intriguing. She was in her late twenties when she first came before the courts. Find out more
Data visualisations

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The Digital Panopticon is a Digital Transformations project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
A collaboration between the Universities of Liverpool, Oxford, Sheffield, Sussex and Tasmania, it is published by the Digital Humanities Institute.