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What do I need to know?

  • the prisoner’s name (or maiden name) and/or alias
  • if this is not 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. 

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 (1855–1948) 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 (to find male prisoners in regional prisoners, select one from the list below under the heading Next Steps, and then follow the link to the prison's page and select the “Records Series” tab to see what records are held for that prison).

The open records have been indexed and digitised, with the exception of the two most recently opened registers for male prisoners. 

Who created these records?

These records were created by the following agencies:

Chief Secretary's Department 1855-1871 (VA 475)

Penal and Gaols Branch, Chief Secretary's Department 1871-1948 (VA 1464)

Next Steps

If you have not been successful finding what you want with the above search, 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 circa 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 (for example, whether married, known associates)
  • prison
  • when received
  • offences
  • sentences
  • any extension to a sentence
  • behaviour
  • release date.

Note: The records vary across time

Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples