England and Wales Criminal Registers are now online!

Yay!  The England and Wales Criminal Registers project was a favorite amongst contributors, mainly due to the incredibly fascinating information that we were keying – although we didn’t key the offenses I am positive we all read them.  And really, in what other collection would I be keying the name “Bottle of Beer” and wondering what the given and surname should be?? 


The England & Wales Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 – taken from 279 original paper volumes held at The National Archivesin Kew – document trials and sentences for crimes ranging from petty theft and fraud to the use of bad language and scrumping (stealing apples from orchards).


Each register includes details of the crime, the full name and date of birth of the accused, the location of the trial and the judgment passed. During this period, almost two in three tried for their crimes received sentences of imprisonment and almost one in 10 were either transported overseas or sentenced to death.


In total, the England & Wales Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 documents:


§     900,000 sentences of imprisonment – 65% of those who went to trial during this time ended up serving a prison sentence

§     97,000 transportations – many criminals who received death sentences had their sentence commuted to transportation as judges became increasingly ‘lenient’

§     10,300 executions – including a boy aged just 14.


The collection also documents the brutal period of English history infamously known as the ‘Bloody Code’ so called due to the large number of crimes made punishable by death as the authorities sought to deter potential offenders.  Famous names in the collection include Jack the Ripper suspect Dr Neill Cream, the inept highwayman George Lyon and Queen Victoria’s ‘would be’ assassin Roderick McLean. 



You never know who you might find – as Colleen was arbitrating her research trained eye caught the name of her ancestor William PerrinIf you’re interested in finding out if you have jail bird ancestors click here to search the collection. 



Thank you to all of the contributors who spent their time keying this project.  Give yourselves a pat on the back for a job well done!

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Reader Comments

I believed that these records would be freely available to all who had contributed to their keying / arbitration without additional payment. Was I wrong?

When I clicked on the link in your blog, I found I was asked to pay to see these records. Sureley anyone who has contributed to this project should get free access.

I can see them OK – and found rather more in my family on there than I thought I had! Just make sure you are logged in, if you just click on the blog link you aren’t identifiable as a keyer or arbitrater.

The index is available to everyone, and the images are available to all active contributors, keying 900 records in 90 days, and to all World Deluxe or qualified UK subscribers.

Jeni is right though, you do have to sign in to be able to access the records.

***I have updated this post to be more accurate with what subscriptions were needed to access the images, if you are not an active contributor. I apologize for any confusion or angst my previous post resulted in.***

I am signed in etc….although I can see the initial image when I click on it to see the real image I get the free sign up for 14 days thing….little disappointed in that as all of us who do key 900 records in 90 days or more and prove themselves to be solid keyers should get access….just a thought we do work hard for you all.

I’ve tried directly from Ancestry but without success. I simply get the following message – “The record that you’ve just tried to view is available through one of the memberships below.
If you upgrade your membership you could be eligible for a refund on your current membership.”
My daily tally for records keyed and abritrated is 49.93. Seems a bit unfair to me now to be demanding a big hike in subs to see what we’ve already been working on.

I’d love to give myself a pat on the back as I keyed in a significant proportion of this project as well as going on to arbitrate it. Unfortunately as I’m unable to actually view the end result without upgrading my subscription, I am left feeling like I, along with many other UK volunteers, have been given a slap round the face :o(.
One of the problems is that, as a UK user, I’ve previously been served adequately by my UK essentials sub. When Ancestry changed its subscriptions package towards the end of my existing sub, I suddenly found myself unable to view many UK records of interest. Under the original sub, we would have been able to view the English Criminal Records regardless of whether we’d keyed or not. Under the new terms we lose out all ways unless we are prepared to pay. I feel extra stupid realsing that I in effect sacrificed a quarter of my annual sub to keying in heaps of material as a volunteer.

All active contributors, those who key 900 records in 90 days, http://landing.ancestry.com/wap/learnmore.aspx, should all have free access to both the indexes and the images.

The indexes are freely available to everyone, whether you are a contributor, subscriber, visitor to the site, etc. The only requirement being that you register with Ancestry and get a username.

If you feel you should have access and are running into troubles seeing the records please email our support team, worldarchivesproject@ancestry.com.

I have to agree with your other contributors. I have just renewed my membership having just the basic subscription last year I thought that completing the required amount of keying would give me a better subscription for this year and was surprised that I had to ask for this and then found the offer very disappointing, 10% off of the premium membership and 15% off of the worldwide. Very disappointing for the time given.


Sandra Grey

I too am unable to see the records. I am also asked to purchase a membership. I have never been able to see any of the records for databases I have worked on.

Looks to me like Ancestry needs to reconsider its position & approach both to subscription packages and volunteers. With the recent acquisition of Genes Reunited by brightsolid creating the largest UK based genealogy service you would have thought Ancestry would be keen to demonstrate that it provides added value for its UK members. I was considering offering my 30 years experience in gnenealogy as a volunteer transcriber but I think I’ll see what Findmypast has to offer first!

I agree. I have been on this site for one year as a keyer and as an arbitrator. I am retired. In my last employment, I made $35/hour doing considerably less than what I do for ancestry. I have not been able to view the databases I have worked on, despite claims that we can. I am always stopped by a request to become a member.The hours I spend here are more than worth a membership. They make a lot of money off our labors……

I am responding to Ron’s comments. It’s interesting due to the fact that when I started working on this project my husband said, “so you’re paying them to do ‘data entry’ to help with this project?”. I do feel we should get some extra perks. Like free upgrades, etc. I spend the better part of my days off working on this project. However, I do enjoy it!

I am just as dedicated as anyone else to genealogy and the projects. But then to be told to pay to see the actual records is a slap in the face.

I honestly get a kick out of these people who say they don’t want anything for doing this because that is exactly what Ancestry.com is offering us – nothing.

I arbitrate and while I see a majority of the keying is correct, there are many that prove the axiom about something for nothing. Oh well. Some things will never change.

I just can’t see what the problem is. Here is step-by-step how to get to the records.

If you have keyed 900 records within the LAST 90 days, you are considered an ACTIVE contributor.

Log into the Keying tool.

On the right side of the screen, Scroll down and click on the link that says “See community leaders and discussions online”. This will take you to Your World Archives Project Dashboard.

Scroll down to the section titled “Completed World Archives Projects”. There are two sections “In Processing” and “Live”.

Click where it says “Search Record” next to one of the five live projects.

Another screen will open, enter your information, click search.

Like most of you I too understood that the records were freely available if you were a registered user of Ancestry.it appears for certain images to be seen you have to have more costly membership shame on them I appreciate that is costly to provide this service but a blanket charge all images covered would be a fair way to go felt cheated when my level did not cover records I needed