Find your ancestors in Prison ship (Hulk) Registers 1811-1843

Prison ship (Hulk) registers

Search records for around 13,300 prisoners held on prison ships between 1811 and 1843. Prison ships, or hulks, were ships used as floating prisons – often ships were used that were no longer fit for battle although they were still able to float.

This collection of records includes details of prisoners on the hulks Antelope, Bellerophon, Captivity, Coramandel, Discovery, Dromedary, Euryalus, Hardy and Weymouth, as well as a small number of records for Parkhurst prison.

You may find that your ancestors appear in more than one hulk as they could have been transferred from one hulk to another.

The amount of information varies from ship to ship but you can find out your ancestor's age, when and where they were tried and for what, what their sentence was and how long they actually served. You can also find out if they were single or married, whether they could read or write and what kind of prisoner they were.

The Antelope, Coramandel, Dromedary and Weymouth hulks were all moored in Bermuda while the other ships were generally moored around the English coast.

Many of the ships had illustrious millitary histories before they ended up as prison hulks. The Bellerophon was the ship that accepted Napoleon Bonaparte's surrender. It was later renamed the Captivity and continued to take prisoners.

The Bellerophon/Captivity was briefly a dedicated boy's hulk, housing young prisoners between the ages of 9 and 17 away from the adult population. In 1825 however, it was decided that the ship was unsuitable for the purpose and the boys were transferred to the Euryalus which had been fitted out specifically for them.

For more information on the individual hulks please see the dedicated search screen here.