Find your convict ancestors. The Hue & Cry, or Police Gazette was an English newspaper that listed details of crimes committed around England and descriptions of the offenders – from transported convicts to highwaymen, petty criminals to smugglers, and even deserters. This index includes information on many who were sentenced to transportation in the Australian colonies. Discover where and when they committed their original offence.
Each record includes a transcript. The amount of information listed varies widely, but you can learn some or all of the following information:
Name as transcribed
Place of their offence
The Hue and Cry, and Police Gazette was an English newspaper that published notices of wanted criminals and the offences they committed. This periodical is a prime source of information on the crimes committed by convicts who were sentenced to transportation.
Compiled by volunteers of the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies, this index contains the names of criminals and the place and date of their offences. Reference details are also included, such as the volume, page, and column number of the original article.
Note that while much of the index covers offences that took place in London – and some include specific streets and addresses – reports from throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales also appear in the index. There are even mentions of America, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the West Indies, as well as individual ships.
However, note that in some cases the places transcribed indicate the offender’s place of birth rather than the place of the crime. For example, ‘Native of Italy’ (or other countries) has been recorded as a place name in some cases.
The Hue & Cry circulated details of crimes committed all over Britain as well as physical descriptions of the offenders in question, from petty criminals to highwaymen, smugglers, murderers, forgers, and arsonists. The names of missing persons and those who had been transported or imprisoned were also printed. In some cases, these were followed with requests for information or offers of rewards. Earlier editions of the newspaper, between 1773 and 1776, are available in Findmypast’s digitised historic newspaper collection under the title Police Gazette.
During the 1770s, the periodical was printed by the Public Office in Covent Garden, London, and distributed free to ‘the mayors and chief officers of corporations, the acting magistrates in the counties at large, and the keepers of every county gaol throughout England’. Its purpose was to prevent crime ‘by the speedy detection of criminals’.
Note that it changed names repeatedly: it was renamed as the Public Hue and Cry in 1793 and began to be sold as a normal newspaper; then it became the The Hue and Cry, and Police Gazette on 30 September 1797. During the period from 1797 to 1810, the newspaper consisted of two pages, issued once every three weeks. The front page consisted of public announcements, notices of rewards and reports of offences. The back page contained lists of deserters from the armed forces along with names, descriptions, and details including the date of desertion and the unit they had come from. Later, in 1828, it again changed its name to The Police Gazette; or, Hue and Cry. It was then issued twice a week and grew to four pages in length. In 1839, it became the Police Gazette, and has retained this title since.
Whatever the masthead, this index is a useful tool to help genealogists researching their family history in the Georgian and Victorian periods. It provides a wealth of insight into crime, policing, and transportation.
Despite having a high circulation of roughly 150,000 copies printed each issue, there is no complete set of the newspaper throughout its entire print run. There are a number of scattered collections of various years of the newspaper’s print run held in several archives and libraries in Australia and the United Kingdom, including in local police force archives, although some gaps in coverage remain.
To order a copy of the relevant article in which your criminal ancestor appeared in this index of the Hue & Cry, simply complete the research form on the Family History Connections web site using the reference number provided in this index. Note that a pre-paid charge applies.
If you would like to search for your ancestor in the newspaper for years beyond the coverage of this index, you must first determine the archive that is most likely to hold the original source material, which depends on the year.
Findmypast holds the entire digitised copies of the Police Gazette (or Public Hue and Cry) between 1773 and 1776 in its historic newspaper collection.
The British Newspaper Archive also holds digitised scans of the newspaper, between 1773 and 1918, although there are gaps within this coverage.
The State Library of New South Wales in Sydney holds copies between the late 1790s and 1810, while Somerset Record Office and Durham Record Office also hold several years from the early and mid-19th century respectively. The British Library Newspaper Library in London also offers issues from the late 19th century.
Copyright Findmypast. Data provided by the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies.
Begin your search broadly with just a name and year.
If needed, you can narrow your search results by including additional search criteria such as a place, county, or country designation.