Did your ancestor go to Australia as a convict between 1786 and 1849. Search the records for some of the earliest convict settlers to New South Wales who came mainly from all over the British Empire. Search Indents and Musters to find ancestors who arrived in the early years of settlement, from the First Fleet, Second Fleet and Third Fleet and on. Discover where they came from, what their profession was and what they did to get transported.
Each record contains a transcript and a black and white image of original documents. The amount of information can vary between record sets but you can find out the following about your ancestor:
Year of conviction
Place of conviction
Images can often provide further information not available in the transcript. You could find out:
Number of children
Since additional documents were sometimes added to entries which can give further details about your ancestor’s crime, character or conduct in the penal colony. You can navigate through these by clicking on the white arrows to the left and right of the image.
Search 188,518 records from 1786 to 1849 and covering some of the earliest convict ships. Please bear in mind that these records do not cover every convict who arrived in Australia on those early ships. Some records have been lost or scattered to other places. These records are made up of five separate sets of records held by the the State Records Authority of New South Wales..
Indents 1788–1842 (NRS 12188)
These are a mixture of bound manuscript indents and printed indents from 1788 to 1842. They correspond with the NSW State Archive reference NRS 12188, reels 393-398, 906. .
The convict indent is a list of convicts transported to NSW on a particular ship. They were used in the early convict settlements as a way of keeping track of the convict population. Early indents include only a name, date, place of trial and sentence but later indents include a wealth of biographical information including religion, physical descriptions, native place and crime. Indents often include numbers of tickets of leave, pardons or certificates of Freedom as well as details of any further offences committed in the convict colony.
Indents from Early Fleet Ships 1786-1799 (NRS 1150)
These are bound volumes of manuscript indents, including some from the earliest fleets before 1800. The First Fleet, made up of 11 ships left Portsmouth in England in 1787 to set up a penal colony in Botany Bay. The Fleet was led by Captain Arthur Philip. Botany Bay was found to be an unsuitable place for the colony so the fleet moved along to coast to Port Jackson. The Second Fleet of six ships arrived in 1789 and the Third Fleet in 1791. More ships were to follow as the settlement grew. Not all the ships from these early fleets are represented here and not all the convicts. Again, it is a matter of what survived.
These records correspond with the NSW State Archive reference NRS 1150, reel 392.
Musters and Other Papers Relating To Convict Ships 1790-1849 (NRS 1155)
These are generally papers brought onto the ship at the port of embarkation, a list to check off who was on the ship. These lists of convicts usually only give name, date and place of trial and sentence. Musters were taken before embarkation or after disembarkation in NSW. Copies of indentures are also included with the owner of the ship contracted to transport convicts.
These records correspond to the NSW State Archive reference NRS 1155, reels 2417-2428.
New South Wales Convict Ships 1791-1799 (NRS 1151)
These are bound indents from early ships including the Gorgon and the Kitty. The Gorgon arrived in New South Wales as part of the Third Fleet in 1791. She arrived carrying 6 months provisions for the starving 900 people on the colony. She was also carrying 30 convicts and Philip Gidley King who was returning to the colony to assume the post of post lieutenant-governor of Norfolk Island. The Kitty arrived in Port Jackson in 1792. She was carrying 30 female convicts and 10 male but eight of the ten convicts found the means to escape when the ship was obliged to stop en route. Most of the convicts were English or Welsh but there were also reportedly fourteen Irish female prisoners on board.
These records cover the NSW State Archive reference NRS 1151, reel 2719.
Office Papers of printed indents 1831-1842 (NRS 12189)
The office papers of printed indents were bound printed versions of the original documents. They were distributed to officials and magistrates to enable them to identify convicts and to give magistrates background on the convict if they ever appeared before them. They are often annotated with details of offences committed while in the colony or of subsequent tickets of leave or pardons.
This set covers the NSW Archive reference NRS 12189, reels 905-908, 2662.
© the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales and is used under licence with the permission of the State Records Authority. The State of New South Wales gives no warranty regarding the data’s accuracy, completeness, currency or suitability for any particular purpose.