GUIDE TO RESOURCES FOR TASMANIAN GENEALOGY

by Malcolm Ward

© Malcolm Ward 2005-2011. All rights reserved


 5.  CONVICTS AND COURTS

 

5.1  

START HERE! TAS LIST CONVICT INDEXES AND INFORMATION

Information and indexes compiled by genealogists for genealogists, on this web site. A comprehensive collection of lists of convicts, convict ships, abbreviations in convict records, reference books, locations of convict records and much more. See: http://www.rootsweb.com/~austashs/convicts/con_main.htm


 

5.2

AOT CONVICT INDEX AND DIGITISED CONVICT RECORDS ON LINE

The Archives Office of Tasmania is progressively adding to its collection of digitised (scanned) convict records. The best place to investigate and view these resources is via: http://www.archives.tas.gov.au/generic/convict-records-online and follow the instructions and links for the various options. It is not totally straightforward to find an individual convict's scanned records, so it's suggested that the name be searched on the convict index first: http://portal.archives.tas.gov.au/menu.aspx?search=11.

The search result gives each convict a data base number, which when clicked on brings up the same information plus reference numbers for the records available for that convict (not all convicts have the same surviving records), including the conduct record, description list, appropriation list, muster roll and indent. Digitised records have underlined links taking you to the record volume (you have to go through that volume on-line to find the individual convict's record). The references are further linked to other information about that record, including the 'Z number' which is used to locate the microfilm of that record at the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office, State Library, Hobart.

Another way to access the digitised records is via the original Archive record series, at this page: http://www.statelibrary.tas.gov.au/tasmemory/digitisedall/digitisedformat#convicts.

There is also a searchable CD of Tasmanian convicts published by the Genealogical Society of Victoria in conjunction with the AOT. As one might expect, a number of errors and omissions in this CD index have come to light over time and the Archives Office has ceased selling it.


 

5.3

CONVICT RECORDS

The Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office at the State Library, Hobart holds the available Tasmanian convict records on microfilm and these are readily viewable and copy-able in their microfilm area; as noted above, many of the records have been scanned and are available on-line. AOT will also take search / copy orders via e-mail (subject to their search fees, see http://www.archives.tas.gov.au/reference/fees ) and they charge via invoice. Different records contain different information on the person (but a lot may be duplicated) and the type of information recorded changed over time.

To understand and transcribe Tasmanian convict records the booklet "Transcribing Tasmanian Convict Records" by Susan Hood (2003) and Maree Ring's "Tasmanian Convict Record Abbreviations" on this web site http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~austashs/convicts/conabbrev.html are recommended.

The University of Tasmania's Special Collections and the Royal Society Archive, which is deposited at the University Library, hold a significant number of resources relevant to convicts. For example, Convict records and charge sheets Van Diemen's Land 1833-1857 have been made available as a PDF here: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/7288/. See http://www.utas.edu.au/library/info/collec/arch/ascii.html for lists of names and subjects held in their collections.


 

5.4

CONVICT TRANSPORTATION DATABASE

A searchable database of transported convicts, including those to Tasmania is maintained by the State Library of Queensland, here: http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/info/fh/convicts. Convicts transported from Ireland are not included.


 

5.5

CONVICT PERMISSION TO MARRY INDEX

Convicts wishing to marry had to obtain permission and this AOT index is available on line at http://portal.archives.tas.gov.au/menu.aspx?search=5 and the records are held at the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office, State Library, Hobart.

A detailed analysis of the “Convict Permission to Marry” Index and its contents by Neil Chick is published in Tasmanian Ancestry Vol 30 number 3, December 2009 p 187-197. The study includes cross-checks of convicts on the index with convict arrivals in the colony, name analysis and other features. Well worth a look if you come across some inconsistency when you use the index.


 

5.6

FEMALE CONVICTS

A good reference for female convicts is Phillip Tardif's "Notorious Strumpets and Dangerous Girls. Convict Women in Tasmania 1803 - 1829" (1990).

The "Female Factory" at the Cascades (South Hobart) operated between 1828 and 1856 to house female convicts and their children. A web site has been established, with an on-line database, a register of researchers for the convicts and much more; see http://www.femalefactory.com.au/ . A relevant recent book is "Female Factory Female Convicts" by Tony Rayner (2004).

The Female Convicts Research Group maintain a comprehensive web site here: http://www.femaleconvicts.org.au/. A database of female convicts in Tasmania is being compiled here: http://www.femaleconvicts.org.au/index.php/research/database.

"A Drift of Derwent Ducks" published by Trudy Cowley in 2005 is a study of the 200 female Irish convicts who were transported to Van Diemen's Land from Ireland in 1849 on the "Australasia". Indexes from the book are on-line at http://www.researchtasmania.com.au/ADoDD/indexes.htm (may take a while to load).


 

5.7

FAMILIES OF CONVICTS

Convicts were sometimes able to apply to have their families brought out after their transportation. See "Convict Applications to bring out families to VDL (also NSW, Vic,& WA) Index 1827-1873" by C. Mesecke (TFHS publication). The records themselves can be viewed at the AOT.


 

5.8

PORT ARTHUR

The web page of the Port Arthur Historic Site can be found here http://www.portarthur.org.au/ It has an inquiry service, see here http://www.portarthur.org.au/index.aspx?base=1657


 

5.9

CONVICT SHIPS AND NAVAL MEDICAL OFFICERS' RECORDS

Probably the best compilation and description of the ships and voyages that brought the convicts to Australia is the recently revised "The Convict Ships 1787 - 1868" by Charles Bateson (2004).

See an incomplete list of Tasmanian convict ships here: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~austashs/convicts/conships.htm.

The UK National Archives are digitising the Royal Navy Medical Officers' journals (series ADM101), including names of patients etc. See http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/surgeonsatsea/. Further information on this topic and the ADM101 Series can be found here: http://mc2.vicnet.net.au/home/grthom/web/medjour.html.


 

5.10

CONVICT TRIAL RECORDS - UK

Convicts were usually tried and sentenced at County Quarter Sessions courts, or the Assize courts for more serious offences. Quarter Session records are held at the various County archive offices in the UK (most of these have web pages). A list of English County Archive and Record offices can be found here: http://www.oz.net/~markhow/englishros.htm

Assizes records (prefaced ASSI) are held at the National Archives at Kew, London; see http://www.catalogue.nationalarchives.gov.uk/RdLeaflet.asp?sLeafletID=154. Note that Conduct Records of convicts, held at the AOT usually say whether the convict was tried at the Quarter Sessions or Assizes, and the date of the trial.

There are virtually no searchable names in the National Archives catalogues and you will need a good idea of the date and place of the Assize trial to use the on-line catalogue to get a file reference that may contain part of your convict's trial record. Then, having the National Archives file reference, you will need either to visit the National Archives or get a professional researcher to look up the file for you, as the final file may be very voluminous and there is no certainty that your convict's records will have survived. Someone needs to read/scan the file to see if your 'name' is there. The National Archives do offer a research service, but on my experience this tends to be somewhat 'mechanical' and unrewarding.

Old Bailey (also known as the Central Criminal Court) trial "Proceedings" 1674-1913 are on-line and are searchable at http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/. These often give much more detail of and 'colour' to Old Bailey trials than the official court records, held by the National Archives. The London Lives web site http://www.londonlives.org/index.jsp gives access to a lot of related information.

Criminal Petitions 1819-1839 have been indexed by Jill Chambers. Search on-line for a library holding this.

Trials held at Middlesex Sessions of the Peace, (as opposed to the Assizes records, held at the National Archives) are likely to have records at the London Metropolitan Archives www.cityoflondon.gov.uk Site. Like the UK National Archive, most names do not appear in on-line indexes and the records have to be searched manually.

Local newspaper reports of trials can sometimes contain more 'colour' than the trial reports. The best repository of UK newspapers in the 19th century is the British Library Newspaper Library at Colindale in north London, see http://www.bl.uk/collections/collect.html . You can search their holdings here: catalogue.bl.uk Site. Probably the only realistic way to search them is in person, although some British newspapers 1800-1900 are being digitised and can be searched here: http://newspapers.bl.uk/blcs/.


 

5.11

SWING RIOTERS / MACHINE BREAKERS

During the early 1830s, a wave of protest against agricultural workers' conditions and low pay caused by the increasing use of mechanised equipment occurred in rural (mainly southern) England. Those arrested, tried and convicted became known as 'machine breakers' or 'swing rioters' and these have been very well documented by Jill Chambers. See http://www.swingriotsriotersblacksheepsearch.com/. If you are lucky enough to have a swing rioter to research, Jill's books (organised by County) will likely give you a biography of the convict and an account of the trial, with references to English and Tasmanian archives and to newspaper reports; see http://www.swingriotsriotersblacksheepsearch.com/index.php?p=1_2_Publications.


 

5.12

IRISH CONVICT TRANSPORTATION

The National Archives of Ireland holds a wide range of records relating to the transportation of convicts from Ireland to Australia covering the period 1788 to 1868. In some cases these include records of members of convicts' families transported as free settlers. See: http://www.nationalarchives.ie/topics/transportation/search01.html.


 

5.13

PETTY SESSIONS COURT INDEX AND OTHER LOWER COURT, GAOL AND PRISONER RECORDS

The TFHS has indexed some Petty Sessions records, so far for Sorell 1847 - 1856; see: http://www.hobart.tasfhs.org/sales.htm#Legal%20Records. The originals are held at the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office, State Library, Hobart.

The LDS is scanning various Lower Court, gaol and prisoner records from the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office and making these available on-line at: https://www.familysearch.org/search/image/index#uri=https%3A//api.familysearch.org/records/collection/1935075/waypoints.


 

5.14

QUARTER SESSIONS TRIALS IN TASMANIA

Convicts who re-offended in Tasmania as well as free people were tried at the Quarter Sessions courts and records of these are at the AOT. Search the holdings (not names) at http://search.archives.tas.gov.au/default.aspx?search=1 , for instance searching for the words <<quarter sessions>>


 

5.15

POLICE GAZETTES ('REPORTS ON CRIME')

Reports of Crime were published from 1861 to 1883 and afterwards as the Tasmanian Police Gazette. Information contained includes reports of crimes and offences, arrests, notices about absconders, missing persons, deserters, discharge of prisoners, inquest findings, stolen property, general police notices and notification of the issue of some licenses e.g. to hawkers, tanners and carriers. The Archives office holdings can be found here; records from 1866 to 1933 have been digitised and can be viewed on-line (follow the links): http://search.archives.tas.gov.au/default.aspx?detail=1&type=S&id=POL709.


 

5.16

SUPERIOR COURT TRIALS IN TASMANIA

An on-line index searchable by subject and case of Decisions of the Nineteenth Century Tasmanian Superior Courts by Macquarie University can be found here http://www.law.mq.edu.au/research/colonial_case_law/tas/site/sctas_home/.


 

5.17

OTHER CONVICT RESOURCES

The University of Tasmania's special collections and the Royal Society Archive, which is deposited at the University Library, hold a significant number of resources relevant to convicts. An often overlooked resource is the correspondence of early colonial settlers who of course used convicts as labourers and had great influence over the convicts in their employ. See http://www.utas.edu.au/library/info/collec/arch/ascii.html for lists of names and subjects held in their collections.

Founders & Survivors is a partnership between historians, genealogists, demographers and population health researchers. It seeks to record and study the 73,000 men women and children who were transported to Tasmania; its web site is here: http://www.foundersandsurvivors.org/.

Sue Wyatt has documented convicts who served, and/or who later settled in the Sorell area:- http://www.wyatt-family.com/sue/Sorell%20Information/sorellindex.htm.



© Malcolm Ward 2005-2011. All rights reserved
Submitted by Malcolm Ward 28-Jul-2005
Updated 30-Nov-2011