This week's Findmypast Friday marks the release of over 113,000 new Australian convict records covering Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and the Island of St Helena. A list of over 3,000 British Army Officers who were receiving half pay in 1714 has also been released as well as a census of the Irish Army taken during the Irish Civil War in 1922.
Australian Criminal Records
Containing over 2,000 records, the Victoria, Convict register 1842-1854 is made up of several lists relating to the administration of convicts in the Port Phillip District. The region was administered by the colony of New South Wales until, on 1 July 1851, it separated to become the Colony of Victoria. Although no convicts were transported directly to Port Phillip, many ended up in the region as servants or workers assigned to government projects. Others entered from New South Wales or Tasmania as ticket-of-leave holders seeking work. Each record includes an image of the original document and a transcript. The amount of information listed may vary but most will include the convicts name, year of transportation, the ship they arrived on, details of their sentence and details of either their assignment or ticket of leave.
The New South Wales, Convict Death Register 1828-1879 contains the details of nearly 7,000 convict deaths as reported to the Principal Superintendent of Convicts (until 1855), and subsequently the Inspector General of Police. Each record contains a transcript and black and white image of the original document. Records list the deceased Convicts name, age, date of burial, place of burial, the ship they arrived on and any additional remarks.
The Queensland Convict register index 1824-1839 contains the details of over 2,600 convicts held at the Moreton Bay convict settlement. Moreton Bay was established in 1823 as a place of secondary punishment for convicted prisoners who committed further crimes in the Port Jackson region. Around 2,400 men and 145 women lived in the Bay’s convict depots under the control of military commandants who were required to maintain registers for regular submission to the Colonial Secretary in Sydney. Each record is a transcript of the original source documents. Transcripts can include details of the prisoner’s offence and sentence, their prisoner number and physical description as well as biographical details such as their place of birth, year of birth and religion.
Containing over 10,000 records, the Queensland, St Helena Convict Index 1863-1936 lists the details of convicts held at the penal colony on the Island of St Helena. St Helena is located 2.5 miles east of the mouth of the Brisbane River in Moreton Bay and was named after an after an aboriginal named Napoleon was exiled there in 1826. It later became home to a quarantine station that became one of the most profitable prisons in the State’s history, housing prisoners under sentence of hard labour. Conditions were so harsh that it became known as “the hell hole of the Pacific” or “Queensland’s Inferno”. Each record is a transcript taken from original source documents. Transcripts can include the prisoner’s name, their prisoner number, the year their name was taken as well as page, ID and reference numbers for the original documents held by the Queensland State Archives.
Australia Convict Tickets of Leave 1824-1874 contains over 60,000 records. A ticket of Leave was a form of bail or licence that allowed prisoners to build a new life in Australia before the official end of their sentence. The system was introduced informally in 1801 to reward convicts who had performed a service or been of particularly good conduct and allowed them to work for themselves, marry, or to have their families join them. Tickets had to be renewed yearly and carried at all times. Ticket holders were also expected to regularly attend religious services, prohibited from leaving the colony and barred from carrying firearms. The records in this collection consist of three different types of document held by the Government of New South Wales: Registers of tickets of leave 1824-1833, Ticket of leave butts 1827-1875, and New South Wales, butts of convicts’ certificates of freedom 1827-1867. Each record contains a transcript and black and white image of the original document that can include the prisoners name, where they were born (convicts came from all over the British Empire), their offence, occupation, a physical description and where they were allowed to settle.
New South Wales, butts of convicts’ certificates of freedom 1827-1867 contain nearly 32,000 records. Certificates of Freedom were awarded to convicts after they completed a fixed term of sentence, allowing them to go free and choose whether to settle in Australia or return home to their country of their origin. Certificates were only available to prisoners serving a fixed term sentence, usually 4, 7 or 14 years, and not to those serving life sentences. Each record contains a transcript and a black and white image of the original document. Earlier certificates show the bare details of name, sentence and ship while later certificates give much greater detail including occupation or calling, native place and distinguishing physical marks. They may also note whether or not the convict previously held a ticket of leave, which would allow him limited freedom before the end of his sentence.
Irish Army Census 1922
Containing over 32,000 records, the Irish Army Census 1922 is comprised of ten volumes held by the Military Archives of Ireland. The census lists the names of all those serving with the army at midnight on 12/13 November 1922 and was imposed to help with administrative challenges faced by the new Army Pay Office. The National Army was established in 1922 following the signing of the Anglo-Irish treaty and the end of the Irish War of Independence. The first recruits were pro-Treaty supporters within the Irish Republican Army though records show that a number of later recruits were as young as 14 years old. The census will be an invaluable resource as it was taken shortly after the Four Courts fire had destroyed thousands of records. The census is also of historical significance as it was taken during the Irish Civil War (1922-1924). Each record includes a transcript of the details found in the original records and a link to the image on the Military Archives website. Each transcript includes a soldiers name, age, birth year, place and county. Images will reveal further details such as their division, rank, attestation details, home address and next of kin.
British Army, List of Half-pay Officers 1714
The British Army, List of Half-pay Officers 1714 contains the details of over 3,000 Officers from over 116 different regiments within the British Army. Half-pay referred to the pay or allowance an officer received when in retirement or not in actual service. Many of those listed would have served in the War of Spanish Succession (1701 to 1714). The Treaty of Utrecht, signed at the end of the War, reduced the size of the British Army by almost 50 regiments. This left a high number of officers displaced. Retirement for an officer was not available until 1871 so many went on half-pay, allowing them to retain their commissions and remain available for any future service. The index was created by Wienand Drenth. Each record includes a transcript of the original source material that lists the Officers name, rank, regiment and establishment (English or Irish).
Remember to check our dedicated Findmypast Fridays page every week to keep up to date with the latest new additions.