Last updated:

July 13, 2021

What do I need to know?

  • the prisoner’s name (or maiden name) and/or alias
  • if this isn’t successful, a prisoner record number
  • OR names of prisons and approximate years of incarceration.

Most central registers for both males and females are viewable online, including those which have been damaged or mould-affected. Some are closed under s9 of the Public Records Act

How do I search?

Search by a prisoner’s surname (or alias), or prisoner number. You will be able to filter by year on the results page.

About these records

The Central Registers of Male and Female Prisoners (1855–1942) cover individuals held at Melbourne area prisons (Collingwood, Carlton and Williamstown stockades, the Eastern Gaol, the Hulks and Pentridge). The records also include regional prisons for female prisoners only.  (see “Related Records” for male prisoners in regional prisons).

The open records have been digitised, with the exception of the most recently opened register for male prisoners. This will be digitised and indexed in 2019.

Who created these records?

These records were created by the following agencies:

1855 - 1871     Chief Secretary's Department     VA 475
1871 - 1948     Penal and Gaols Branch, Chief Secretary's Department     VA 1464

Next Steps

If you haven’t been successful, try looking for a prisoner’s number in either the male or female online alphabetical indexes based on date range (PDF) then use the number in the search tool above. For regional prisoners browse the record lists held for each prison and look for ‘Prisoner’s Received’ and a date range.

Visit the agency pages below for a variety of detailed records created by prisons:

Ballarat Gaol (VA 633)

Bendigo Prison (VA 940)

Castlemaine Prison (VA 1008)

Camperdown (VA 4607)

Geelong Prison (VA 1003)

Pentridge Prison (VA 863)

Melbourne Gaol (VA 4147)

Portland Prison (VA 4139)

Sale Prison (VA 982)

What are in these records?

  • prisoner number
  • prisoner name (and possible alias)
  • from c.1870, for prisoners with sentences of 6 months or more, a photograph of the prisoner 
  • personal description (height, weight, hair colour)
  • date of conviction
  • where and before whom tried
  • particular marks
  • history (e.g. whether married, known associates)
  • prison
  • when received
  • offences
  • sentences
  • any extension to a sentence
  • behaviour
  • release date.


Note: The records vary across time