Do you have a convict in your family?

Individual convicts can be named in these volumes – this table even gives wives’ maiden names [Convict system, volume 8, page 65 of section on Western Australia]

The State Library is adding new digital content to its website all the time, which means that you can do some of your family history research from home. For instance, if you have a convict or guard in your family, you might be interested in the Convict system. This eight-volume set, housed in our rare book collection, consists of corrrespondence about the convict establishment from the Comptroller General.

Lots of convicts are named, as you can see from the example here, and there is plenty of background information too. For instance, I was able to find out when the government ceased the practice of recouping passage money from convicts – 1857. There is a notice to this effect on page 29 of the same volume.

The easiest way to access this wonderful resource is to type convict system under Title in our catalogue and select State Library Online from the drop-down box. Once you’ve selected a volume, you can browse through the pages by placing your cursor on the edge of a page and clicking. This makes a very satisfying page-turning noise! If you want to search for names, scroll down and select the Download button. This means you can save a searchable PDF version to your PC. The files are fairly large so you may need to be patient.

Ancestry launches Convicts’ Applications to Marry for Valentine’s Day

Ancestry has launched a new database, ‘Registers of Convicts’ Applications to Marry’ in time for Valentine’s Day. The registers from the State Records Authority of New South Wales cover the period 1826-1851 and the information given includes name, age, birth year, spouse, whether or not permission was granted and the date of permission or refusal.

This database, along with all the rest of the Ancestry content, can be searched within the State Library building. To access it go to our website at and select How Do I Find – Electronic Resources – Databases by Category – Family History – Ancestry Library Edition.

Old Bailey Proceedings online

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London’s Central Criminal Court have been online for a while, covering 1674-1834.

Recently a further 100,000 criminal trials have been added to the website and the time frame now covers 1674-1913. Digitised images of the original court proceedings are attached to records. You can search on a persons name, but also by offence, verdict and punishment.

 This is a great resource if you are researching convicts from England processed through the Central Criminal Court and it’s free!

Have you tried using the FREE Ancestry library edition database at the State Library?


Ancestry library edition is a subscription database, similar to the popular, where you can search for information on your ancestors free within the State Library building.

Popular databases include:

  • Australian convict index 1788-1868
  • UK census records and images for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 covering England, Wales, Scotland, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man but not Ireland
  • US census records and images 1790-1930
  • British Army World War 1 pension records 1914-1920
  • Pallot’s Marriage Index 1780-1837
  • British phone books 1880-1984
  • UK birth, marriage and death indexes 1837-2005 (not complete but worth searching)*

 *Remember that Ancestry is providing access to the indexes not to the original certificates. These will have to be ordered from the relevant registry office

What else can I find?

Other types of records include: parish records, wills, immigration records, directories, land records, court records, newspapers, gazetteers, maps and photographs

What can I do with my results?

To print your results click on Print and follow the on-screen instructions for the best results. Always use the Print Preview option first because there is often a blank page before and after your image.

There is the option to email your results but use this with caution as you can only ever email 5 results to any one email address.

Watch this space!

Family History subject specialists will soon be offering training courses on using Ancestry library edition for interested staff.