Convicts: Life in the colony

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Key to library resources

Access anywhere with a library card In the Library (or anywhere with a Library card for NSW residents)
Available to access in the library Only in the Library
Publicly available online Publicly available

NSW Probate index (wills), 1800-1985

How to use NSW Probate index (wills), 1800-1985

Only in the Library You can use NSW Probate index (wills), 1800-1985 when you are in the Library. Can't come to the Library? Contact us.

How to find out about a convict's will and family members

To search these records you need to know the approximate date of your convict's death. If you are unsure of the date, use the last known date of when they were alive as a starting point.


Find the NSW Probate index (wills), 1800-1985 on microfiche in the Family history area. The index is arranged by year and then by last name.


Search the list of names until you find the person you are looking for. The index entry will provide you with a probate number or letter of administration number and the date and place of death.


You can use the probate or letter of administration number to order a copy of the probate packet from State Archives & Records NSW or you can visit State Archives & Records NSW to view the probate packet. Check the State Archives & Records NSW website for information about viewing the probate packets.

Go to the resource

What is probate?

Probate is the legal process of settling a person's will after their death.

About the index

The index lists people who died in NSW and left a will but may also include people who didn't have a will or their will was invalid. For those without a will or an invalid will, the court may have issued a letter of administration, authorising someone to act as executor.

More help

The contents of a probate packet can help you trace the family and friends of your convict as they may be named as beneficiaries.

Check out the Probate Packets (wills) Guide on State Archives & Records NSW website for information about probate packets.