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Australian Joint Copying Project: Home Office Records - HO

A guide to the holdings of the State Library of South Australia

Home Office records

In 1782 the Home Office was created to assume jurisdiction over domestic affairs in the realm. Its many functions included the transmission and answering of petitions to the Sovereign from his subjects, advice on the exercise of royal prerogatives and the issuing of instructions on behalf of the Sovereign to Officers of the Crown, Lords Lieutenant and Governors of Colonies in connection with the maintenance of law and order and the defence of the realm. The new Department also immediately became responsible for colonial affairs.  Later the Office also assumed control of the penal system.

Contents of reels have not been described in detail or individual items indexed, however a general description of reel contents may be found in the Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook, Part 3, Home Office produced jointly by the National Library of Australia and the State Library of New South Wales. 

 HO 10 - Criminal - convicts - New South Wales and Tasmania

These records contain muster listings of male and female convicts living in the Colonies of New South Wales and Tasmania. Included in these lists are details about the ships they were transported on, their date of arrival in the Colony, when and where they were convicted, the sentence, whether they were still living in the Colony, marital status, religion, a list of pardons granted, and if no longer a convict, where they were presently employed.  The amount of information varies from listing to listing.

Reel No.                  Date Range             COMPLETE set of HO 10
59 - 87 1788 - 1859  

HO 11 - Criminal - convict transportation registers

These registers contain lists of convict ships and the persons transported.  The ships are arranged in order of their departure from the UK, with the date of sailing and destination. The names of convicts are arranged in alphabetical order according to the place of conviction.

Reel No.                Date Range              INCOMPLETE set
88 - 93    1810 - 1870  

The State Library of Queensland has created a Convict Database for HO 11, linked from this page.  The index is by surname.

HO 13 - Criminal - criminal papers - entry books 

This class refers mainly to people in England. It contains letters concerning inmates of lunatic asylums, movement of prisoners between gaols in England, petitions for pardons, remission of sentence and correspondence from wives asking for permission to join their husbands who have been or are about to be transported.

Reel No.                 Date Range              COMPLETE set of HO 13
419 - 422 1786 - 1810  
3082 - 3093 1810 - 1828  
3097A - 3122 1822 - 1871  

HO 16 - Criminal - Old Bailey sessions

These records consist of monthly returns by the Clerk of the Sessions concerning the prisoners committed for trial at the Sessions of Oyer and Terminer and Gaol Delivery for the City of London and County of Middlesex. Details include charges laid against them, verdict and sentence. The arrangement of names is in order of the severity of the sentence, from death and transportation to lesser sentences. Each month has a separate return for London and for Middlesex.

Reel No.                 Date Range        INCOMPLETE set
1542 1815 - 1822               

HO 26 - Criminal - criminal registers - series I

(Offenders for Middlesex only - Newgate Gaol)

These registers list all persons charged with indictable offences 1791 - 1849 for the County of Middlesex. The lists contain the person's name, description, birthplace, the alleged crime, the sentence - whether dealt, transportation or a term of imprisonment - and when the sentence was executed. Acquittals are also noted, and in the case of transportation, the date and to whom the prisoner was delivered.

Reel No.                Date Range                INCOMPLETE set
2730 - 2749 1791 - 1846  

HO 27 - Criminal - criminal registers - series II

(Middlesex is included only after 1850)

These registers contain similar information to Series I for all other counties 1805 - 1868. Middlesex is included only after 1850.

Reel No.                  Date Range             COMPLETE set of HO 27
2752 - 2860 1805 - 1868  

Locating information

Below are extracts from the Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook, Part 3 - Home Office that may be of assistance when looking for more detail.

Some of the extracts below have been marked with yellow highlighter. This indicates which reels the Library has in its collection and where the holdings are not complete for that Class.

HO 13 - The State Library undertook a volunteer project in 2002 to create a more detailed summary of HO 13. You will find a two part copy of the project's index below.

UK National Archives

Recently the UK National Archives began a Digital Microfilm Project to allow access to its most used items. Amongst the documents currently uploaded are items from the Home Office. Items are grouped by Class (e.g. HO 13) and many of the documents are very large. For more details go to Digital Microfilm Project, UK National Archives.