Births, deaths and marriages

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visitors are kindly advised that this website includes images, sounds and names of people who have passed.

All users should be aware that some topics or historical content may be culturally sensitive, offensive or distressing, and that some images may contain nudity or are of people not yet identified. Certain words, terms or descriptions may reflect the author's/creator's attitude or that of the period in which they were written, but are now considered inappropriate in today's context.

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Births at sea


Did you know?

Children who were born on the voyage to Australia were frequently named after the ship – especially their middle name.

Something to think about when tracing your ancestors in the passenger lists.

Surgeon's journals

Surgeon’s journals contain a wealth of information about the health of passengers and often include a sick list documenting visits to the ship doctor. You will find the entries are very detailed especially in the event of a birth or death at sea.

You can view a selection of these journals on the National Archives (UK) website.

Births at sea

From March 1856 the NSW Registry required masters and commanders of British and Colonial vessels arriving in Sydney to record births that occurred on the voyage. The official record was filed by the registry in separate volumes known as the Marine Registers.

Search the index to find their parents’ names and possibly the name of the ship. You will need to buy the certificate from the registry to find other details such as the date of birth and the latitude/longitude where the birth occurred.


bv born on voyage, in quarantine etc.
b&dv born and died on voyage, in quarantine etc.
cob child(ren) on board (listed separately)
dv died on voyage, in quarantine etc.
inft infant
pob parent(s) on board (listed separately)
sf stepfather
tw travelling with

What is an assisted passenger?

An assisted passenger is someone whose journey was paid for by someone else, such as the government through a government immigration scheme, or by a family member or an employer in the colony or a charity. 

What is an unassisted passenger?

An unassisted passenger was able to pay for their passage to the colony.