State Records Home
Personal tools
You are here :: Home Publications Now&Then eNewsletter Now&Then 44 - June 2010

Now&Then 44 - June 2010

Get the latest online news including: a new index to search; a new AIB to read; Flickr and Archives Outside updates, and; this month's Macquarie highlight. See also information found in our collection about the Kelly Gang, a spotlight on early Colonial business records and more!

It’s a bumper issue!

Online News

The latest additions to online indexes and resources on our website include:

1. New Archives in Brief 121 – Russian migration and settlement in NSW

This Archives in Brief (AIB) provides an overview of record series which may be useful in tracing Russian settlement in New South Wales.

2. Multi-name search the online indexes

Improved search functionality allows for multi-name searching. Simply choose a [name] index and enter multiple names in the "Surname" and/or "Firstname" fields separated by a comma (no spaces). Away you go!

3. Merged Convict Index makes for a monster search!

We have recently combined six of our convict indexes into a single, easy-to-search database. With around 120,000 entries you can search the following all at once:

  • Certificates of Freedom, 1823-69
  • Convict bank Accounts, 1837-70
  • Tickets of Exemption from Government Labor, 1827-32
  • Tickets of Leave, Certificates of Emancipation and Pardons, 1810-19
  • Tickets of Leave, 1810-75
  • Ticket of Leave Passports, 1835-69

Included in the new index is a new addition; the Index to Tickets of leave, 1810-75 compiled by Dr Perry McIntyre. We acknowledge and thank Dr McIntyre for giving us permission to add it to our website.

Researching your convict ancestors on our website has never been easier!

4. New Look Historians page

We have gathered together some useful resources to help you get started with your family history on the recently updated Historians page. Including research tips, handy lists for researching specific topics such as convicts, women in the records, immigration as well as tips for publishing your research.

In addition to the item number the other important part of an archives citation is the series number. This is the number that has been assigned to the records created and maintained by a government department for a common purpose, for example the series Files relating to licences for theatres and public halls, 1895-1992 has the series number NRS 15318. All the series making up the NSW State archives have a unique number.
We have recently compiled a list of our most commonly used and referenced series.
Let us know if you think a specific series should be added to this list.

5. Lachlan Macquarie Gallery – June highlight

Lachlan Macquarie, 1822This month's highlight relates to the exploration of the Blue Mountains and Bathurst. The account was to inform the general populace of Macquarie's tour over the Blue Mountains. Macquarie had personally made the crossing and had seen the country over the Blue Mountains for himself. He praises those who have explored and those who have built the road over the mountains. We read of the naming of various places such as 'Spring Wood', Mount York and Bathurst.

Previous highlights are featured on Flickr.

1879 Confidential report to Colonial Secretary re Kelly Gang

Recently a reader searching through NRS 905 Main series of letters received [Colonial Secretary] in the Western Sydney Records Centre came across a letter of interest relating to the Kelly Gang. Information in the letter (Letter number 79/10148 Container [1/2463]) includes detailed physical descriptions of the Gang, their possible whereabouts, possible ‘get-away’ routes as well as insightful details about the outlaws and their friends. Here is a transcribed section of the letter……

Note re “Kelly Gang”
The Kelly’s know the country by head
of Murray River to Yarrangobilly. A
settler named Sparkes would shew
them the back country, and thence by
keeping east of the Kiandra they might
reach Queensland.

Duncan McGuinis, drover,
from about Towang would assist, and
is sure to see them if in his neighbourhood.

Dan Kelly has been shearing in

Steve Hart knows Urana. His
Parents live near Wangaratta.
Joe Byrne is said to have an
Uncle or other near relative near Lake
George. He lately said that if they
stuck up another Bank he would
go there for concealment. His
father is dead, but his mother lives
near Beechworth. He has not been
much away from Victoria, except
perhaps on Horse-steeling expeditions
with the gang, and their other friends.

Ned Kelly was fencing shortly
before the Murders with one Doubleday
about five miles from Albury, towards Howlong,……..

The letter goes on with further details about the Kelly’s Gang possible whereabouts and people likely to house them. Included with this letter is a further document a….. ‘Confidential Report to the Colonial Secretary’ (Henry Parkes) from the Inspector General of Police, this document lists the rewards offered for each member of the gang along with a detailed physical description of each member.

The gang of outlaws consist of
Edward Kelly, – Reward offered 1000 pounds
Dan Kelly,           "          "     500 pounds
Steve Hart,         "          "     500 pounds
Joe Byrne,          "          "     500 pounds
The whole of the men are said to be well
acquainted with the border country of New
South Wales.
Ned Kelly has resided in Wagga Wagga
and in August last is reported to have
been staying near the Murrumbidgee…….

And so the letter continues. We are always interested to hear from researchers who come across items of interest while using State archives. Please let us know if you find something of interest while searching through the records.

New! Index to Depasturing Licences

Nineteen Counties. Click for larger version.Search for settlers grazing stock beyond the ‘limits of location’

There was some unauthorised occupation of Crown land from the earliest days of the colony. Governor Darling created an area known as the 'limits of location' — creating two areas within the colony by a Government order on 5 September 1826. Settlers were only allowed to take up land within the ‘limits’. A further Government order on 14 October 1829 increased this area of approved settlement to include an area called the Nineteen Counties.

NRS 14363 Depasturing licence no 605. Click for larger version.In 1833, in responses to extensive unauthorised occupation of Crown lands, an Act for protecting the Crown Lands…from encroachment, intrusion and trespass was passed. The 1833 Act appears to have had little or no impact on the unauthorised occupation of Crown Land. So, as it was impossible to prevent the expansion of the squatters, Governor Bourke sought to legalise and regulate squatting through further legislation in 1836. The regulations consequent to the 1836 Act included issuing licences to settlers to depasture their stock on the vacant Crown lands beyond the limits of location, on application to the Colonial Secretary (Government Gazette 5 Oct 1836 p. 745-6).

One of the latest additions to our online resources is the index to these depasturing licences for the period 1837-46, 1851.

Family Search Website - Assisted (Bounty) Immigrants, 1828-42

The Family Search website which is provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints includes a link under the ‘Search Records’ tab to the Family Search Pilot. The pilot includes a transcription of the Bounty Index and digitised copies of the reels. The index was originally complied many years ago by The Church and subsequently microfilmed (reels 30-37). To locate the Bounty Index following the prompts to the list of ‘Australian Resources’.

Flickr update

Currently at 1,091 uploaded images with 63,728 views our popular photostream is still growing. Some of the latest activity includes:

Ferry Lane and Pottinger Street, The Rocks
A picture of Ferry Lane in The Rocks leads to a Flickr friend sharing his first ever photo identification moment
Ambulance Tram, c.1915
A possible id on this Ambulance Tram
Sydney Observatory
A Flickr friend shares a lovely ‘now and then’ photo of the Sydney Observatory

Some identifying information provided about this photo of Armidale

If you don't have a Flickr account you can still browse these photos, many of which are also available on Photo Investigator.

Where else can you see us online?

Archives Outside - Blog update

Happy Birthday

Archives OutsideWell, since we last ‘spoke’ Archives Outside has turned 1 year old! It’s been a big year for the team here and we thank all of you who have visited and left comments, guest posted, or simply ‘lurked’ around the site.

Staff "Picks"

We have a new staff pick, this one by Christine Shergold, Manager Special Projects. The post relates to Convict records and their disposal. Here is a sample:

….Some time ago I was pleased to have the opportunity of tackling the question of what did happen to those Imperial convict records that are no longer extant – settling once and for all, if possible, the persistent myth that large quantities were dumped into Sydney Harbour or ‘at sea’. (Or were they destroyed in the Garden Palace fire  instead?)

Moments in time......

Have you been following the series "Moments in Time" at our blog? This popular fortnightly series of posts asks you, the reader, to help date and/or locate photographs from our archival collection.

Recent images include:

What are your tips for dating photos?

The idea of learning to date old photos caught your interest? This post is a brilliant community generated list of tips and tricks to help you date old photos. We have had tons of comments and have been busy updating the list of tips. Stay tuned for a follow up post soon.

Many images in our collection have come to us with only the barest of details attached. Your knowledge, interest and enjoyment in identifying dates and locations is helping us to fill in some of the blanks and, in turn, provide better access to the State’s archives

ANZAC Day remembered

Selena Williams contributed a guest posted titled “Hidden Stories: Acknowledging World War One Nurses as Soldier Settlers”  

To quote from the article:

Australian women who served overseas during World War One as nurses were entitled to apply for land under the Returned Soldiers Settlement Scheme. Land settlement as a method of repatriation was to become central to the rehabilitation process in Australia, and nurses were included in repatriation legislation under the broad category of 'soldier'. Central to the soldier settlement scheme was the philosophy of providing for returning soldiers, ‘land for heroes’.  Yet, the men of the AIF were considered the ‘heroes’ by State and Commonwealth governments – not the nurses who served.

William Oates also posted an ANZAC Day post titled “From Uralla 1916 to Europe 2010 – Anzac Commemorations & New England” 

Conservation Tip

Always a popular topic this post focuses on mould…and how to get rid of it! 

In other Blog news....

We participated in an event for the annual Information Awareness Month and spoke about the creation of Archives Outside. The seminar which was co-hosted by the NSW Branch of the Australian Society of Archivists (ASA)  and the ASA Reference Access and Public Program Special Interest Group (RAPPSIG) looked at the impact of digitisation and other digital initiatives on archival reference and access in the 21st century.
Which leads to another guest post by Jenny Pearce, Archivist at The Kings School who also spoke at the seminar about her work

If you would like to keep up to date with what’s happening on the blog you can subscribe via email Subscribe by email or RSS RSS Subscribe

Spotlight on early colonial business records 1788-1825

After 1825 | Inns and Public houses | 'Old Register' | The 1828 Census | Court Records | Sheriff's Office | Insolvency and Bankruptcy | Newspaper Owners | Other Sources

W.H Paling & Co., 356 George Street, Sydney pre 1891For researchers interested in locating information about business and commercial life in the early years of the colony the Colonial Secretary’s Papers, 1788-1825 are one of the most useful starting points. The online index to the papers can be searched by subject or a person’s name. For example, you can look for references to a range of business activities by using the term ‘Publican’, ‘Dealer’, ‘Trader’ or under commodities such as wheat or salt. The index also includes entries such as ‘Shops and shopkeepers’, ‘Merchants’, ‘Trade’, ‘Customs duties’, ‘Fees and charges’ as well as the names of businesses. Used in conjunction with the online Index to the Bench of Magistrates, 1788-1820, which includes references to regulations and licensing and other business activities, it is possible to follow the activities of some our earliest entrepreneurs. For example, Edward Robinson ‘going’ surety for Thomas Rickaby’s licence to sell spirituous liquors in 1798 [SZ766], Simeon Lord being granted an auctioneer/broker’s licence in 1798 [SZ766] and the conditions for a baker's licence dated 1815 [SZ775].

After 1825

The records of the Colonial Secretary after 1826 are also important because the Colonial (later Chief) Secretary continued to have a very important role in the public and commercial life of the colony well into the nineteenth century. So, don’t forget to consult the Indexes to the Colonial Secretary’s letters received and letters sent, which were compiled by the late Joan Reese. These indexes are available on microfiche in both reading rooms. In addition, there are also contemporary indexes and registers to the correspondence, which are also available on microfilm in both reading rooms.

Inns and Public houses

The operation of inns and public houses are some of the earliest examples of small businesses, with licensing records dating from 1798. As already noted references to ‘Publicans’ can be found in the online indexes to the Colonial Secretary’s Papers, 1788-1825 and the Bench of Magistrates, 1788-1820. Under an 1825 Act and later Acts, certificates for the issue of licenses were granted by a Justice of the Peace in the Court of Quarter Sessions. Publicans' licenses were issued from the office of the Colonial Treasurer upon the granting of the certificate by the Court. Archives in Brief 61 Publicans Licences, which lists the main record series, provides a good starting point for research. State Records has a project underway to prepare an online index to the records of publican’s licences from c.1830-60. Ken Knight and Allan Rost have compiled an Index to Pubs and Publicans in the County of Cumberland to 1850. This is available on the computers in the reading rooms.

'Old Register'

Old Register DVD CoverThe Registers of assignments and other legal instruments, 1794-1824 (NRS 5604), known as the ‘Old Register’, also record business and other transactions between individuals. Although the ‘Old Register’ was proclaimed in 1802 it allowed people to register assignments and other legal instruments relating to all manner of transactions (not just land dealings), dating back to 1794. These instruments can range from the assignment of crops, promissory notes, lease agreements and articles of agreement. In 2008 the NSW Department of Lands (now the Land and Property Management Authority) with State Records NSW released digital copies of all the volumes in this series in DVD format titled 'Old Register One to Nine'. The DVD also includes an index compiled by Lois Sabine. The DVD is available in both reading rooms. It is also available for sale.

The 1828 Census

The 1828 Census is another important source as it includes information on occupations.  Copies of the census records are available on microfilm in both reading rooms and the reels are also part of the Archives Resources Kit. There is also a printed version which was published by Keith Johnson and Malcolm Sainty in 1980. In 2001 they published a CD version which makes searching even easier. There are 12 searchable fields including occupation.

There are 36,500 persons recorded in the Census. While the census does not record the occupation of everyone in the colony, this is a small sample of those listed:

110 bakers 186 blacksmiths 13 brewers
84 brick makers 127 butchers 390 carpenters
66 coopers 82 dealers 65 merchants
96 publicans 79 shopkeepers 180 tailors

One of the most intriguing ‘dealers’ is John Massagotah of George Street, Sydney who is described as a ‘dealer in curiosities’. John Marzagora (aka Massagorah) died in 1838. According to the probate record he was a ‘bird stuffer’ (NRS 13502, [6/4191B]) so perhaps he was a taxidermist.

Court Records

Court records provide considerable detail about the range of businesses and trade that were being conducted in the early colony. Selected court cases have been transcribed and they are available online on the Macquarie Law Division Website – Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales 1788-1899. The records documenting civil actions between individuals date from the establishment of the Court of Civil Jurisdiction in 1787. They can range from cases concerning promissory notes and the recovery of small debts to commercial dealings of the Colony with other parts of the world (particularly India). There is an online Index to Court of Civil Jurisdiction, 1799-1814 on State Records’ website and there is also a Guide to Court of Civil Jurisdiction, 1797-1814, which is available in the reading rooms. For further information on the records created by the Court of Civil Jurisdiction and the later courts hearing civil cases refer to Archives Investigator.

In addition, there are two important ‘small debts’ courts that may assist you with your research. They are the Governor’s Court which was in operation from 1814 to 1824 and the Court of Requests, 1823-58. As few records have survived for the Court of Requests the newspapers of the day may be a useful alternative source.
The purpose of the Governor’s Court was the recovery of small debts where the sum in dispute or property value did not exceed £50. There is a published guide to the Governor’s Court, 1814-24 which is available in both reading rooms. In addition there is an Index to the Governor's Court cases heard 1814-1824 compiled by Shirley Doolan. This is available on the computers in the reading rooms.

There is more information about the court and a list of the records series in Archives Investigator. The key record series are:

  • NRS 4563: Case papers (heard), 1815-24 (Payment of debts due on promissory notes and payment of debts for goods, for services, or for slander.)
  • NRS 4564: Case papers (unheard), 1814-24
  • NRS 4565: Case papers where the amount claimed does not exceed £5 (heard), 1819-24
  • NRS 4566: Case papers where the amount claimed does not exceed £5 (unheard), 1821-23
  • NRS 4569: Judgment books, 1816-24 
    A typical case before the Governor’s Court was that of Salter v Henry Kable (the younger) 1816, (NRS 4563 No 69 [4/4860]). The court found in Salter’s favour and Henry Kable was ordered to pay £9/10/- with costs.

Sheriff's Office

The records of the Sheriff’s Office, which was established in 1823, are another useful source of information concerning civil actions. A key responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office was enforcing court order – in particular writs of execution against debtors and writs for the arrest of the defendant in the civil action where a sum of money owed had not been recovered. As there is no general index to these records, newspapers may provide an alternative source for locating information to any actions by the Sheriff’s Office.

Insolvency and Bankruptcy

Those going into business were at the whim of economic downturns and all the other vicissitudes facing our early settlers. As a result they may have been forced into insolvency (1842-87) or bankruptcy (1888-1928). When scrolling through the various occupations of those listed in the insolvency and bankruptcy online indexes it is interesting to see the range of businesses represented. For example, ‘piano teachers’, ‘comedians’, ‘teachers’, ‘bakers’, ‘contractors’, ‘tanners’ and ‘engineer’s. It is always worthwhile checking the online indexes to the insolvency or bankruptcy case papers. 

Newspaper Owners

If you ancestor operated a newspaper the Register of newspaper recognizances and affidavits, 1841-63 (NRS 13643, 4/8237 part]) will be of interest. 1827 legislation  provided that newspapers could not be printed or published until the delivery of affidavits and certificates of recognizance to the Colonial Secretary giving full details of printers and publishers of the newspaper. The information provided in the register includes: title of paper, name of editor, publisher and/or printer and names of sureties. Early newspapers listed include the Sydney Herald, recognizance dated 7 April 1842 with Charles Kemp and John Fairfax recorded as editor, printer and publisher and William Patten and Thomas Cowlishaw as sureties; and the Australian, recognizance dated May 1842 with George Moss shown as editor printer and publisher, and Thomas Forster and Samuel Cohen as sureties.

Other Sources

There are a number of published and other sources which are helpful in tracing people who operated businesses. They include:


In Living Memory logoAn extra town has been added to the In Living Memory NSW tour, with the recent inclusion of the Griffith Regional Theatre in the first two weeks of August 2010. Members of the Griffith Indigenous community, who had seen the tour in Wagga Wagga, made a special request for the exhibition to come to their town in between its travels to Dubbo and Broken Hill. Contact Steve Collins from the Griffith Aboriginal Medical Service if you have any enquiries ph: 02 6964 4533.

The tour is currently on display at the Western Plains Cultural Centre in Dubbo until Sunday 25 July and goes to the final venue in Broken Hill from 10 September – 17 October 2010.

Check the exhibition webpage for venue details and updates.

In Living Memory is also still on display at State Records Gallery in The Rocks.

Exhibition Talks & Tours are available for small groups of 5-20 people, weekdays between 10 am and 4 pm.

You can see a story produced for Stateline NSW about the exhibition and the old Cootamundra Girls’ Home on the ABC News website.

In Living Memory exhibition
State Records Gallery
Sydney Records Centre
2 Globe Street (off George Street)
The Rocks
9am - 5pm, Mon - Fri
10 am - 4pm, Sat
Closed public holidays
Enquiries & Exhibition Tour bookings (02) 8247 8660

Upcoming Talks and Tours

Royal Australian Historical Society

Janette Pelosi will present her paper “Submitted to the Colonial Secretary: popular entertainment in the State archives 1828-1856”
2 June 10:00am-2:00pm
History House, 133 Macquarie Street
Contact: Mari Metzki
Phone: 9247 8001

Cape Banks Family History Society Meeting

Fabian Lo Schiavo will present “Italian Migration and Settlement to NSW”.
11 June 7:30pm-9:00pm
Senior Citizens Centre, 6 Alma Road, Maroubra
Contact: Hazel Brombey

The Rockdale Volunteer Fire Brigade

Janette Pelosi will be speaking to the St George District Historical Society on ‘The Rockdale Volunteer Fire Brigade’.
19 June 2:00pm-3:30pm
Rockdale Town Hall, cnr Princes Highway and Bryant Street, Rockdale
Contact: Laurice Bondfield
Phone: 9599 4274 or 0408 288263

HAGSOC Meeting

Lindsay Allen will address the Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra on some interesting characters found in the archives, including bigamist Frederick Dansey and "dandy" Simeon Moss.
6 July 8:00pm-9:00pm
Hughes Community Centre, Wisdom St, Hughes, ACT
Contact: Jeanette Hahn

Tracks in Time – Records of the railways in NSW

Lindsay Allen will show some of the records that are now in State Records from State Rail.
4 August 10:30am-12:30pm
Wyong Shire Council Branch Library at Tuggerah, Westfield Shopping Centre, Cobbs Road
Contact: Michelle Goldsmith
Phone: (02) 4353 5666

Family History Week event – Criminals and Crimes in interesting times

Lindsay Allen will present a talk about a number of crimes including Frank Butler’s murders in the Blue Mountains and the Mt Rennie outrage of 1886 that led to four young men being hanged.
5 August 1:00pm-2:00pm
Contact: Clinton Johnston
Phone: 9330 9573

Macquarie 2010 Celebrations

Lindsay Allen will be talking at the Hawkesbury Family History Fair on records related to Governor Macquarie.
7 August 10:00am-4:00pm
Hawkesbury City Council Library, 300 George Street, Windsor
Contact: Michelle Nichols
Phone: 4560 4466

For further information check the online events program or ring Lindsay Allen on (02) 9673 1788.