Find out if your ancestor served his time in an Australian penal colony between 1824 and 1874. Tickets of leave were like passports given to prisoners who were released before the end of their sentence, meaning they were free to pursue a new life in the new colony. These records from the Government of New South Wales Archives can tell you their name, where they were born (convicts came from all over the British Empire) and what they were convicted of. You can also find out where they were allowed to settle.
Each record contains a transcript and black and white image of the original documents. The amount of information may vary across different kinds of records but you can find out the following about your ancestor:
Year of birth
Place of birth
Crime convicted of
Place and date of trial
Ship arrived in Australia on
Master of the ship
The ticket of leave system was a form of bail or licence which allowed a prisoner to start to build a new life in Australia before the official end of his or her sentence. The system was introduced informally in 1801 to reward convicts who had performed some service or been of particularly good conduct. From 1811 convicts had to serve a minimum sentence before a ticket of leave would be granted. Once a convict had his or her ticket of leave they were allowed to work for themselves, marry, or to bring their families to Australia. However, tickets of leave did have conditions attached. They had to be renewed yearly, carried at all times and Ticket-of-Leave men, as they were known, were also expected to regularly attend religious services. They were not allowed to carry firearms or leave the colony. Once the sentence was completed, or in the case of a life sentence when a sufficient length had been served, the convict would be granted a pardon, either conditional or absolute. You can find links to these pardons in the Useful links and resources.
The records in this collection are the official records of who had been given a ticket of leave rather than the certificates themselves. These documents are rare as they had to be kept on the holder’s person at all times.
You will find the following records from the Government of New South Wales:
Registers of Tickets of Leave 1824-1833 (NRS 12200 Reels 890 & 590) These are the registers of convicts granted tickets of leave kept by the local authorities and record much the same information as you will find on the passport itself. There are 7230 tickets of leave catalogued in the registers.
Ticket of Leave butts 1827-1875 (NRS 12202 Reels 982 - 1027)
These are the section of the Ticket of Leave kept by the authorities, similar to a cheque or ticket stub in modern terms. The information recorded is the same as that on the Ticket of Leave itself. There are over 41,000 records in this set.
Despite the name these are not the convict part of the ticket of leave but the portion kept by the authorities. Once again the information is the same as what would have been on the ticket itself. There are over 11,500 records in this collection.
© 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.