If you’ve got Dorset ancestry, you’ll love this. Ancestry have just added almost half a million new Dorset records to the site. These include including convict records from the 1700s-1900s, as well as Jury Lists, Militia records, Vagrant passes and a whole heap more.

Piracy was rife on England’s south coast right up into the 18th century, and Dorset’s coves, caves and beaches were the perfect hiding place for buccaneers and brigands and their loot. That means you stand a good chance of spotting these seadogs in three new criminal collections. Whether your family’s black sheep committed their crimes on land or sea, the Calendars of Prisoners 1854-1945 take you back to their trials – and often include detailed accounts of their offences. Then the Transportation Records 1730-1842, as well as the Prison Admission and Discharge Registers 1782-1901, will let you uncover how they coped with their punishment.


But not all the new records are about criminals, burglars and bandits. There’s plenty to learn about ordinary law-abiding folk as well – and gain a rare insight into their everyday lives. Such as the Jury Lists 1719-1922 which reveal the very people who upheld the law, and the Militia Records 1757-1860 which remember those who defended the community.

Also new are the Vagrant Passes 1739-1791 which contain documents related to people accused of vagrancy and the Alehouse Licence Records 1754-1821 will be worth a look to see if an ancestor worked in a pub in the area.

These new records are available to search for free, but to view the records you’ll need a UK Heritage Plus Subscription or World Subscription through Ancestry.com.au,  Ancestry.co.uk, or Ancestry.com.

So, half a million new records people – that a whole lot more names and records that have gone online. Now … if only I had ancestors in Dorset!!