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You can access most eresources from anywhere, anytime if you’re a New South Wales resident. You need to have a Library card or a registered NSW public library card.
Visit the Library to use eresources only available at the Library, such as Ancestry, or if you’re not a New South Wales resident.
Do you want to find out if the family story about having convict ancestry is true or just wondered if you have convict ancestry? But not sure where to start?
You might also find out who they were assigned to and if they received a ticket of leave, certificate of freedom or a pardon.
Maybe your ancestor was sent to a different state. Try the following resources:
The information available varies so you may not find all the above details for your convict.
Try finding your ancestor's marriage and death certificates to verify if they were a convict:
Not all transportation registers survived – for example a fire destroyed registers from before 1836. You might still be able to find a record about your convict and their family in a petition or free settler's papers.
Irish newspapers reported convicts’ crimes, trials, sentences and transportation — particularly if it was a serious crime.
Search the following resources to find your First Fleeter's biography. Biographies for people born on the First Fleet are also available.
Now that you've verified that your ancestor was a convict, you can begin exploring their journey to Australia and life in the colony.
Britain transported approximately 163,000 convicts to Australia on 825 ships between 1788 and 1868.
Not all convicts survived the journey to Australia with 518 drowning in shipwrecks.
Use finding aids like Bound for Australia by David Hawkins to learn about essential records for tracing a convict’s life from beginning to end.
Charles Bateson’s The Convict ships 1787–1868 is the definitive guide to convict transportation to Australia. It lists all the convict ships along with departure and arrivals dates. Most voyages have a synopsis - use these as a starting point for further research.
South Australia and the Northern Territory did not have any penal colonies.
Convicts were still sent to colonies in Australia after the official end of transportation.
In New South Wales transportation ceased in 1842 but continued between 1849 and 1850. These convicts had generally served part of their sentence in Britain and were given a conditional pardon or ticket of leave on arrival.