Convicts: Life in the colony

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Convict lists

Search these resources to find the date and place of your convict's trial as well as their sentence to work out when they could be eligible for a Ticket of Leave or considered for a pardon.

In some cases, the Ticket of Leave, Certificate of Freedom, Conditional or Absolute Pardon number has been added later to the record. You can also find their age, crime, name of the ship and departure date, where they were sent and the name of person to whom they were assigned. In later records, you might find a physical description, their native place, trade, marital status and number of children.

Census records and convict musters

Pardons, leave and freedom records


Search for your convict

Search across the different registers and indexes to see if your convict was granted a pardon, freedom or ticket of leave. You can find information like the date of the certificate, pardon or ticket as well as the date and place of their birth, their offence, and the date and place of their trial. In some cases, you will find a physical description. 

Searching Ancestry


What is a Certificate of Freedom?

A convict received a Certificate of Freedom when they had served their full sentence.

What is a muster?

Musters were used to keep track of convicts in the colony. General musters recorded convicts and ex-convicts. They include details about Tickets of Leave, Certificates of Freedom and pardons. A muster was conducted under the order of the Lieutenant Governor and an officer of the Commissary.

Abbreviations used in Musters and Censuses

B.C. Born in the Colony
C.F. Came Free
F.S. Free by Servitude
A.P. Absolute Pardon
C.P. Conditional Pardon
T.L. Ticket of Leave
C. Convict
C.S. Colonial Sentence
G.S. Government or Assigned Servant
O.S. Orphan School
C.P. Clearing Party


Pardons were generally awarded to convicts with life sentences. There were two types of pardons: conditional and absolute pardon.


What is an Absolute Pardon?

Absolute pardons excused convicts from serving the remainder of their sentence. These convicts then enjoyed the same rights as free people, including the right to return to the UK or Ireland.


What is a Conditional Pardon?

Conditional Pardons excused convicts from serving the remainder of their sentence but they had to remain in the colony.

What is a Ticket of Leave?

Tickets of Leave were granted to convicts for good behavior. It allowed them to work for his or her own wages, provided they remain within a Police District. The convicts reported once a year at the Ticket of Leave muster and their ticket was cancelled if they didn't attend.

What is a Ticket of Leave Passport?

A Ticket of Leave Passport allowed a convict to travel for work, visit family or markets. Only convicts who had a Ticket of Leave could receive a Ticket of Leave Passport.