Ireland Gaol (Jail) Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records scheduled to become available at

Record Description

The records of Irish jails and their prisoners are handwritten on preprinted forms and are generally well-preserved. Approximately 90 percent of the records are general registers that could include any of the following lists and registers:

  • General Registers
  • Male Registers
  • Female Registers
  • Description Registers
  • Drunken Registers
  • Military Prisoners and Convicts
  • Lunatics
  • Prisoners committed for trial
  • Prisoners suspected or known to be discharged convicts •Convicted prisoners’ offences and punishments
  • Convict classifications
  • Convict transportations

The remaining ten percent consist of indexes, court records, and administrative reports.

Record Content

Irish jail registers usually contain the following information:

  • Name
  • Inmate number
  • Date of commitment
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Reputed crime of the accused
  • Sentence
  • Release or disposal date

Some registers may also include the following

  • Physical description
  • Religion
  • Education
  • Marital status
  • Birthplace
  • Last residence

Indexes usually contain the following

  • Name
  • Inmate number
  • Year of commitment

How to Use the Records

Before you begin your search, you will need to know which jail your ancestor was confined in. If the jail’s records have an index, search the index first. The inmate number will help you to locate the inmate in the registers. Keep in mind that, as with any index, transcription errors may occur.

The age listed can be used to determine a birth date. The last residence and occupation lead you to court and census records that may have information on parents and siblings. The religion and marital status will lead you to church records such as baptism and marriage.

You may also want to search for court records as they may have additional information about your ancestor such as other residences along with names of witnesses, neighbors, and distant relatives.

Record History

As soon as jails were opened, their officials began keeping records of the inmates. Beginning in 1836, the jails were overseen by the Government Prisons Office and the Office of Inspector-General of Prisons. Their supervision continued until 1880. The General Prisons Board assumed the supervision for the years 1877 through 1928. The jails were required to send copies of their administrative reports to the appropriate government offices. The National Archives of Ireland has the records of more than 40 prisons and other penal institutions. It is unknown what percentage of the population is covered by these records.

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Contributing to This Article

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Sources of Information for This Collection:

General Register Office. Ireland, Gaol (Jail) Registers - 1798-1928. General Register Office, Belfast.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections

The format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections, including how to cite individual archives is found in the following link: How to Create Source Citations for FamilySearch Historical Records Collections

Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection

“Argentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981,” images, FamilySearch ( accessed 28 February, 2012), La Plata > San Ponciano > Matrimonios 1884-1886 > image 71 of 389 images, Artemio Avendano and Clementina Peralta, 1884; citing Parroquia de San Ponciano en la Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Matrimonios. San Ponciano, La Plata, Buenos Aires.