Ancestry on trial: British convict history goes online

The National Archives of Britain has posted millions of documents about the criminal trials of convicts online

Australians can now access more information about their convict past through the National Archives of Britain which has posted millions of documents about the criminal trials of convicts on its Web site.

Coinciding with Australian Family History Week, which runs until Sunday, 1.4 million documents have been uploaded about 18th century criminal trials which took place in Wales and England.

Included in the register were 97,000 transportation documents relating to the criminals whose punishment was to be shipped off to Australia.

This figure represents 60 per cent of all the estimated 165,000 convicts transported to Australia.

Heather Garnsey of the Genealogical Society told ABC News These records have previously been accessible on microfilm at the National Archives of Britain, which meant a trip to England for any Australians interested in researching their past.

“The great thing about this release is that it makes the documents all accessible in one place," Garnsey said. content director, Brad Argent, says that one in five living Australians have convict ancestry and the documents reveal "just how many convicts were fortunate enough to have death sentences commuted to life in Australia".

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