Convict transportation, also known as forced emigration, typically refers to the the British transportation of convicts to America and Australia from the 17th to 19th centuries. Transportation to penal colonies served as punishment for major and minor crimes, providing a solution for overcrowding in British prisons and aboard prison ships. It often served as an alternative to execution. Transported convicts were required to labor, without pay, for a period of 7 -14 years. Women convicts were also transported. Forced emigration is often referred to by the broader term, "assisted emigration," meaning passages subsidized or paid for by another person or through an agency, which may include indentured servants and others such as recipients of benevolent societies, etc.
"Utilizing the abundance of sources generated in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales during the "transportation" process can help genealogists to trace their roots back to the Mother Country. Family historians have indexed and published many of these records," reports Nathan Murphy in his article, Forced Emigration: Historic Remedy for British Criminal Activity. Murphy's article serves as a very good introduction to the subject, and includes a number of key resources. Among the many sources available are of The National Archives at Kew, a number of Convict Transportation Registers, many of which are available online.
A good way to surface a wide range of available resources is through a LiveRoots.com search, using keywords such as convict transportation, assisted emigration, and immigration, which you can narrow by including a location. To see all results, be sure to click on "View more matching resources," at the bottom of each results page. Additionally, he GenWeekly articles listed below explore research and resources related to convict transportation.
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