Convicts: Bound for Australia

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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

Musters and other papers relating to convict ships, 1790-1849

How to use Musters and other papers relating to convict ships, 1790-1849

Only in the Library You can use Musters and other papers relating to convict ships, 1790-1849 when you are in the Library. Can't come to the Library? Contact us.

How to find out about a convict's family

You need the name of the ship your convict (or their family) was transported on and the year (some ships made more than one voyage). Don't know the name of the ship and the year? Try resources listed on Beginning your family history research, Becoming free and Voyage out to Australia.

Remember, your convict's family might have travelled on the same ship as their convict relative or they may have travelled on another ship (convict or immigrant ship).


Collect the How to use the Genealogical research kit (also known as the Guide to the NSW Archives Resources Kit) from the shelves in the Family history area.


Use the guide (see 'Musters and other papers relating to convict ships') to find the convict ship you are researching.

Any information that is included in the musters is recorded in the 'Remarks' column.

If there isn't any information in the 'Remarks' column, then the muster is likely to list only the convict with no extra information about the convict's family.

Example of the information found in an index entry:

Name of ship Original location Remarks
Andromeda II (3) 1834 p.75 List of Free Settlers (women and children)
in the Convict Penitentiary House also embarking;
and, Lists of Clothing supplied to the families of convicts


Retrieve the relevant microfilm reel in the Musters and other papers relating to convict ships series (reel numbers 2417-2428) from the microfilm shelves in the Family history area.


Search for the name of the ship and date of the voyage to find the papers or musters relating to that ship. Ships are arranged alphabetically by name across the microfilms.


Search through the papers to see if there is any mention of your convict or their family.

  • Convict ships are arranged alphabetically and then chronologically by date of voyage for each ship.
  • These papers are handwritten and can be extremely difficult to read. The quality of the microfilm reflects the quality of the original records.

Ancestry Library Edition

Also available on Ancestry Library Edition as 'New South Wales, Australia Convict Ship Muster Rolls and Related Records, 1790-1849'.

Ancestry Library Edition is only available in the Library.

What is a muster?

A musters is a list of a ship's population at either the time of embarkation or disembarkation.

They usually contain the convicts' names and the sentence they received. Sometimes they include reports on a convict's behaviour, lists of any free settlers onboard and memoranda regarding convicts' families.


Don't forget to check the date of arrival matches the year your convict arrived if the ship made more than one voyage.

Can't find family members of the convict in Musters and other papers relating to convict ships? Try the general immigration records for that time period. Ask at the Family history area.