WHAT ARE PRISON HULKS?
Prison Hulks were old ships used as floating prisons because the gaols of the time were overcrowded. This was to be a temporary arrangement but the Hulks were used for 82 years. They were located at Woolwich, Portsmouth and Plymouth. They were also a convenient way to house convicts before they were transported to Australia.
The convicts ate and slept on the vessels but worked during the day on the docks of the nearby ports or dredging the Thames.
The State Library of New South Wales hold many resources relating to the convicts on hulks. They can be found in the Research Guide called Convicts : Bound for Australia under Prisons and Hulks. Some of the resources are online databases and some are in books. There are Criminal Registers, Prison Commission Books, Quarterly Returns of Convicts in Gaols and Hulks as well as UK Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books.
Findmypast have added over 4,000 Prison Ship (Hulk) Registers 1811-1843 records to the collection of Crime, Prison and Punishment records. These cover 6 prison hulks and list over 13,300 inmates held on them. They may list an inmate’s name, age and trade as well as their crime, sentence and character.
Speak to staff at the Family History Desk in the State Reference Library (Macquarie Street Wing) if you wish to access findmypast.