Find your ancestors in Home Office: criminal petitions part 1

Series HO 17

Example of a petition from HO 17

Series HO17, Home Office: criminal petitions, part 1, provides details of petitions for 16,528 people for the period 1817-1858. Convicted criminals, or their family and friends, made a petition when they wanted to revoke or reduce the sentence. Occasionally, the governors of convict prisons recommended prisoners for early release for good behaviour.

These petition records can tell you the following information:

  • Name of convicted prisoner
  • Crime committed
  • Date of sentence
  • Original sentence
  • Name/s of petitioner/s
  • Grounds for clemency

In many cases, the outcome of pleas for clemency was recorded, e.g., commuted sentence, free pardon, etc.