Criminals and Convicts

Delve into the murky past of your criminal ancestors.

What do I need to know before I start?

Try to find out:

  • name of person
  • when and where any trial took place
  • what kind of court tried the offence
  • when and where they were imprisoned


What records can I find in The Mitchell: Glasgow City Archives?

Many criminal offences were recorded in the Burgh or other court records. See our guide on Courts for more information.


Glasgow City Archives holds the historical records of Strathclyde Police and its predecessor forces including the City of Glasgow Police and the County Constabularies of Ayrshire, Argyllshire, Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and Bute, and Lanarkshire.


A small series of police court records survive, including but not exclusive to:

  • Glasgow Police Court books, 1813-1824 (ref: B3/1/1/1-10)
  • Printed list of cases for trial at Glasgow Autumn Circuit, 1825 (ref: SR22/53/1)
  • Circuit Court indictments, 1896-1977 (ref: SR22/53/2-3)
  • Glasgow Sheriff Court book: criminal indictments, 1815-1819 (ref: SR22/53/5)
  • Last sitting of the central police court, Glasgow, 1906 (ref: SR22/63/50)

A few criminal registers, photographic criminal registers and photographic convict registers survive within the police records held at Glasgow City Archives. These include:

  • Scottish Criminal Register, including names and photographs of felons, 1926 (ref: SR22/61/24)
  • Dunbartonshire Constabulary criminal photographs register, 1903-1914 (ref: SR22/71/8)
  • Dunbartonshire Constabulary criminal photographs register, 1907-1908 (ref: SR22/71/9)
  • Register of juvenile male offenders sentenced to whipping in the Sheriff Court, 1914-1944 (ref: SR22/77/29/3)

The following for the City of Glasgow:

  • Register of prisoners photographed, liberated between 1919-1921 (ref: SR22/61/25)
  • Register of salmon poachers, c.1960 (ref: SR22/61/27)
  • Register of criminals photographed, 1910-1933 (ref: SR22/63/11)
  • Photograph album of criminals, 1911-1912 (ref: SR22/63/12)
  • Photograph albums of convicts, c.1934 and c.1930 (ref: SR22/63/19 and 20)

Crimes were also reported in police station occurrence books and sometimes include the names of prisoners retained at stations. There are no surviving station records for Glasgow but there are a number which survive within the County Constabulary records in particular for:

  • Ayrshire (ref: SR22/75/1-11)
  • Lanarkshire (ref: SR22/82/1-48)
  • Argyllshire (ref: SR22/91/4-61)

Records are subject to closure periods under data protection legislation.

These criminal records are not indexed and therefore you should expect a search of the records to take you some time.


What records can I see online?

These records are not available online.


What records can I see elsewhere?

The National Records of Scotland holds many records relating to crime and criminals including inquiries into criminal cases, records of criminal courts and prison records which include information on prisoners who were sentenced to be transported.


An index to more than 100,000 prison register entries is available on the Scottish Indexes Scotland's Criminal Database.​ These include a number for Glasgow (Barlinnie and Duke Street), Greenock, Hamilton and Lanark.


Additional records of prisoners who were sentenced to be transported such as transportation registers, 1787-1870, can be found in the Home Office records held at The National Archives, London.


What other resources will help me find information?

For other Scottish and UK records there are some helpful resource guides on both the National Records of Scotland and the The National Archives websites.



Glasgow City Archives

0141 287 2910

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