Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
University College Cork
Website URL
Prison Ships, Prison Hulks, Convict History, Maritime History, Penal Transportation, Prisons, Prisoners of War, Social History, Cultural History, Penal History, Administrative, Labour, Reform, Material Culture, Shipboard Violence, Shipboard Routine, Warfare, Napoleonic Wars, American Revolution, Britain, Bermuda, Dockyards, Colonial History, Imperial History, 18th Century History, 19th Century History
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Dr Anna McKay is a social and cultural historian who specialises in confinement and forced migration in the British maritime world across the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with a research focus on convicts and prisoners of war.

Her PhD, ‘The Development and Abolition of British Prison Hulks, 1776-1857’, was an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Project between the University of Leicester and Royal Museums Greenwich, and was awarded in 2020. Prison hulks – decommissioned naval warships repurposed as floating prisons – were used by the British government in response to a prison housing crisis. They held both convicts and prisoners of war at home and in overseas colonial territories including Bermuda, the Bahamas, New York, Gibraltar and Ireland.

Recent posts include a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship at University College Cork, the Pearsall Fellowship in Naval and Maritime History at the Institute of Historical Research and a Caird Library research fellowship. Anna has undertaken archival research in the UK, Australia, Bermuda and Canada, and conducted site visits to dockyards, former prisoner of war depots and penal colony sites across the world.

Recent Publications

The story of Irish convicts sent 3,000 miles from home to Bermuda: RTE Brainstorm article, June 2021: 

Anna Lois McKay (2021) ‘Allowed to die’? Prison Hulks, Convict Corpses and the Inquiry of 1847, Cultural and Social History, 18:2, 163-181, DOI: 10.1080/14780038.2021.1893917

For links to blog posts, see my website:

Media Coverage
Country Focus
Britain, Ireland, Bermuda - British colonies
Expertise by Geography
Australia, Atlantic, British Isles, England, Ireland, United Kingdom
Expertise by Chronology
4, 5
Expertise by Topic
American Revolution, Colonialism, Gender, Government, Labor, Material Culture, Military, Public History, Rebellion & Revolution, Slavery