Convicts: Life in the colony

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All users should be aware that some topics or historical content may be culturally sensitive, offensive or distressing, and that some images may contain nudity or are of people not yet identified.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.

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

About the guide

Use this guide to research your convict's life after they arrived in the colony.

Find out more about a convict's working life, family life and freedom.

To uncover details about your convict’s life you will need to check many resources. You will find the government kept detailed records about convicts, most of which have survived, so you're likely to find more records about a convict's life than a free settler.

There is a little bit of luck involved with family history research but a lot of it is working methodically through the resources. 


  • Note down the resources you’ve checked even when you don’t find anything.
  • Check the original record as it might have additional information not listed in the index.
  • More information was documented in later years than earlier years.

Not sure how to begin your research? Check out the links below.


Family history at the library