Thursday, 27 January 2011

Australian convicts 'tickets of leave' online

Abridged press release from Ancestry:


‘Tickets of leave’ issued to British convicts in published online today reveal their voyage form arrest to release –

* New records launch online to celebrate Australia Day on 26th January
* More than 2.3 million convict records FREE to access from 20th to 30th January
* More than two million living Britons have convict ancestors1 has launched online for the first time the New South Wales, Australia, Tickets of Leave, 1824-1867, detailing more than 42,000 parole documents granting freedom to UK convicts transported to Australia during the 19th century.

The new collection complements more than 2.3 million criminal and convict records available at the site, which will be FREE to access to the public for ten days to celebrate Australia Day on 26th January – marking the anniversary of the First Fleet, which arrived in Sydney Cove in January 1788 to establish the first Australian colony, New South Wales.

The free collections will be of particular interest to the two million (one in 30) living Britons who have Australian convict ancestors. They will now be able to explore an additional 42,000 records of former-criminals who received a ‘ticket of leave’ for their good behaviour.

These tickets were granted to convicts who had served a period of parole and had shown by their behaviour they could be given certain freedoms. These included the ability to seek employment, marry, bring family over from Britain and to buy property. Yet some restrictions remained, including not being able to carry firearms or board any ship.

Each ticket of leave had to be renewed annually until the convict had served half the sentence when – if they had no further marks on their record – they received a conditional pardon which, with the exception of leaving the colony, removed all other restrictions.

Included within the Registers of Tickets of Leave, 1824-1827, are the Ticket of Leave Butts, 1827-1867. These expand on the detail contained in the registers and contain personal information, including the prisoner’s name and number, date of birth, height and complexion, and hair and eye colour.

They also record the name of the ship each convict arrived on, the master of the ship, the year of arrival, native place, profession, offence, date and place of trial, sentence, district allocated to, who recommended them for release and date the ticket was issued.

The records can help fill in gaps in our historical understanding of what happened to convicts after they arrived in the new colony and are an excellent addition to the criminal and convict collections available on, including the England and Wales Criminal Registers and the Convict Transportation Registers.

Annabel Reeves from comments: “These records are a fantastic addition to our ever-growing collection of criminal records, which currently detail more than 2.3 million Australian convict stories from arrest to release.

“We have made our criminal and convict collections free to access from the 20th to the 30th January to mark Australia Day and give anyone who suspects they may have an Australian cousin or convict ancestor, the chance to find out”.

(With thanks to Annabel at Ancestry)

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