Australian Bigamy Prosecutions [1849-1999]

The Prosecution Project. Source:


The Prosecution Project is investigating the history of the criminal trial in Australia. As part of the project a web-based transcription tool for historical court records was created and documents are being transcribed by project team members and trained volunteers.

Case records in this data set have been entered by researchers or volunteer transcribers from scanned images of court registers in the custody of various state archives. Users should be aware that the records may contain transcription errors. Missing data (empty cell) usually indicates that information was missing in the original data source. In a small number of cases data in records have been accessed from additional sources (for example digitised newspapers or police gazettes).

The data sets available in this repository date from 1850 to 1922. The data refers to matters that were prosecuted within the respective jurisdictions of the six states as they currently exist (2018), which may be different from the jurisdiction formally in place for a particular offence in the early part of this period, e.g. prosecutions for Queensland (1850-1859) and Victoria (1850-July 1851) were formally under the jurisdiction of New South Wales during those years, but have been entered for Queensland and Victoria respectively.

The dataset  includes data drawn from original court registers, court calendars, trial briefs and police gazettes.  The Bigamy dataset is a combination of records drawn from the Victorian Supreme Court only at this stage.  Work is underway to expand this dataset to the other States.

It’s Great Because

You don’t have to learn how to use the API, write an extraction program or wait days for a harvest. The file is available to immediately download and use from the Australian Data Archive..

But Watch Out For

Text inaccuracies. The process to convert images of the original handwritten records was to use community transcribers to manually transcribe all records, thus some errors may have occurred. Lookup fields such as drop down selection boxes were also used for common entries to limit the possibility of common spelling mistakes.

Learning Curve

Low. CSV file is in human readable form.

How Do You Make Things with It?

Download the data, process it using your coding language or program of choice, then visualise it. Look at the Tinker Recipes for beginner/intermediate instructions.

Languages Available


Formats available

CSV file.

Who Owns/Curates this Dataset?

Prof. Mark Finnane, The Prosecution Project, Griffith University.

How is it Licenced?

Open CC By

What’s the citation?

Short Citation
Mark Finnane, et al. The Prosecution Project Database, (version 1, 17 July 2016)

Subsequent Citations
Finnane et al, The Prosecution Project.

Full Citation
Mark Finnane, Andy Kaladelfos, Alana Piper,Yorick Smaal, Robyn Blewer and Lisa Durnian, et al The Prosecution Project Database (version 1, 17 July 2016).

To cite a Trial
The Prosecution Project Database [PP], (version 1, 17 July 2016), Trial ID #116766, Queensland Supreme Court [QLDSC], Thomas Ward, 1922.

Subsequent Citations
PP, Trial ID #116766, QLDSC, Thomas Ward, 1922.

Where Can I Learn More?

A detailed description of the dataset including a data dictionary is available here. Further information about this project can be found on Prosecution Project website.