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Archives In Brief 83 - Greek migration and settlement in New South Wales

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A brief overview of the major sources held by State Records that relate to Greek settlement in New South Wales.

Searching for individuals in the records

Particular individuals may be difficult to trace because State records are generally arranged in the original order maintained by the government department that created them rather than by persons' names. When searching for individuals, your first step should be to determine what dealings they may have had with the government of the day. You then need to consider which public office would have created these records.

Records of the earliest arrivals

Convict records

The earliest records held by State Records relating to Greek people arriving in NSW are the convict indents for seven sailors from Hydra convicted at Malta in 1828 for piracy and transported for various terms. The sailors arrived in Sydney on 27 August 1829 on the Norfolk (2). Microform copies of the records are on reel 398 or fiche 672 available in the reading room and the 40 community access points.

In 1837 they all received Absolute Pardons (see NSW Government Gazette, 21 December 1836) and the Imperial Government agreed to cover the cost of their passage back to England so they might return to Greece. Two of them — Androni Tu Malonis and Ghicas Bulgaris — remained in the colony while the other five men returned to Greece.

The correspondence relating to their pardons and the arrangements for the passage of the five men to England are in the Colonial Secretary's Correspondence, 1837 [4/2354.1]. The Despatch from the Secretary of State to Governor Bourke concerning the pardons is in Despatches received from the Secretary of State, 1836 [4/1301 No 174].

Early Greek convicts

Name Age Assignment Term Ticket of Leave
Ghicas Bulgaris 22 yrs 'Alexander McLeay' 14 yrs 35/844
Jorghis Larizzos 27 yrs 'Major Druitt Mount Druitt' 14 yrs 36/319
Damianos Ninis 24 yrs 'to the Dock Yard' Life N/A
Nicholas Papendross 20 yrs 'William McArthur Camden' 14 yrs 36/420
Costandis Strombolis 24 yrs 'Fahely' 14 yrs 36/893
Androni Tu Malonis 22 yrs 'William McArthur Camden' Life N/A
Jorossis Vassilachis 20 yrs 'L Macalister Argyle' Life N/A

Other convict records

For information on other Greek-born convicts consult Archives in Brief 2 and Archives in Brief 34. They outline the main sources for convict records. For a comprehensive listing of convict records held by State Records, researchers should consult Archives Investigator and the Guide to Convict Records which is available in the reading room. Marie Jones' book From Places Now Forgotten: An Index of Convicts Whose Places of Trial were outside the UK & Ireland (Marie Jones, Wild and Woolly P/L, 1996) is useful in identifying convicts tried outside the British Isles. It is available in the reading room.

Arrival records

Passenger and crew records

Greeks arriving in the colony either paid their own passage or worked as crew. Research into these records can often be difficult as there is no comprehensive index to the records of nineteenth century passenger and crew arrivals. Some lists record only the numbers on board rather than listing passengers and crew by name. Passenger and crew records can be found in the series Passengers arriving (or Shipping lists, or Passenger lists), 1855-1922. These records are described in more detail in Archives in Brief 1.

Details on a settler's arrival may be found from other sources for example, naturalization records (see below).

Population records

Apart from Androni Tu Malonis and Ghicas Bulgaris there were few Greek-born residents in the colony of NSW in the first half of the 19th century. In the 1891 Census the number was 255 (including those born on the Ionian Islands). By the 1901 Census it was 392. Reports on both census are held by State Records. Collectors' books listing householders are also available (see Short Guide 7 and Short Guide 12).

Naturalization records

Naturalization was the means by which non-British subjects gained the privileges and rights of citizenship held by British subjects or people born in New South Wales. Any non-British subject who wished to vote or own land needed to become naturalized.

Naturalization records are an important source as they can provide both the date of arrival and the name of the ship. See Archives in Brief 3 for a full list of records relating to naturalization. The former convicts Androni Tu Malonis and Ghicas Bulgaris are among the first Greeks to be naturalized.

1834 to 1903 naturalization records

Before 1849 the only way that a non-British resident could be naturalized was by a special act of Parliament. In 1849 the Act to Amend the Laws relating to Aliens, 1849 came in to effect. The Act allowed any non-British subject, resident in NSW for five years, to become naturalized. Between 1834-47 non-British residents could acquire some of the rights of a natural born subject through another process, denization.

Index to 1834 to 1903 naturalization records

An index to people naturalized between 1834 and 1903 (including those receiving Letters of Denization) is a available. Search the Naturalization index here.

Post 1903 naturalization records

The National Archives of Australia holds post 1903 naturalisation records and information on alien registration in NSW.

National Archives of Australia
Telephone: 1300 886 881Web site:

Colonial Secretary's records

The records of the Colonial Secretary are an important source as most contacts and/or correspondence between individuals and the Government, such as the applications from those wanting to become naturalized, went through the Colonial Secretary's Office. The main record series are described in the Guide to the Colonial Secretary's Correspondence, available in the reading room.

Archives in Brief 64 and Archives in Brief 65 provide summary information.

Business company and bankruptcy records

Business records

Many Greek settlers opened small business, such as cafés, oyster saloons and greengrocers. The Registers of firms under the Registration of Firms Act of 1902, 1903-22 includes details about the address and the persons carrying on the business.
This series is partially indexed. More information is provided in Archives Investigator.

Company records

The records of companies that were incorporated between 1875 and 1969 are arranged by a company number, which can be found in the Australian Securities Commission's Dead Companies Index Pre-1969, available in the reading room. More information on these records can be found in Archives Investigator under Agency No. 24 Registrar General. See also records of Agency No. 78 Corporate Affairs Commission. Commercial directories such as Sands should be checked for business names and addresses.

Bankruptcy records

Bankruptcy records include information about businesses and usually include a list of assets. See Archives in Brief 58 and the Index to Insolvency records, 1842-87.

Oyster lease and trawling industry records

Information on the oyster-culture and trawling industries in NSW may be found in Archives Investigator under Agency No. 1847 Fisheries Branch (Tip: select Advanced Search - agency).

Theatres and public hall licensing records

The record series Files relating to licences for theatres and public halls includes files relating to the Greek Orthodox Church Hall (St Raphels School), Liverpool and Greek Orthodox Church Community Hall, Bankstown. For more information consult Archives Investigator.

Records of death duties

Deceased estate and Intestate records

Under the Stamp Duties Act of 1880 and subsequent legislation no probates (wills) or letters of administration could be granted until a duty was paid or security given. The Act also extended to the estates of people who died intestate (without a will), including those handled by the Supreme Court Curator of Intestate Estates. Death duties were abolished in 1981. See Archives in Brief 29 for more information.

Intestate Estate files should be consulted in instances where a person died without a will. See Archives in Brief 53 for more information.

Probate records

Courts issue probate documents to certify that a will is valid, and authorising the executor named in the will to administer the estate. Consult the Probate Index to locate the wills of those who died testate. Microfiche copies of the index are available in the reading room. See Archives in Brief 84.

Other sources

Adult Migrant Education. Consult the Special Subject Guide NSW State Archives relating to the teaching of English to Post WWII Migrants.

Births, Deaths and Marriages, 1788-1945. See the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages online indexes.

Coroners' records. Registers of coronial enquiries can establish basic details such as cause of death, age and birthplace. Detailed reports have not survived for the years 1828 to 1911. See Archives in Brief 4.

Court records. The records from the various court jurisdictions can be found in the Archives Investigator.

Gold mining records. There are few records relating to the miners who worked on the goldfields. References to individuals sometimes appear in the records of the Gold Commissioners and the Department of Mines: Mining Wardens' Courts. See the Archives Invsetigator. for Gold Commissioners and for Department of Mines.

Land sales and transfers. Records relating to the purchase of land from the Crown can be found in Archives Investigator. Records relating to the transfer of land between individuals are available from

Department of Lands
1 Prince Albert Road
Queen's Square

Prison records. Details of prison records can be found in Archives Investigator. Post 1870s prison records may include photographs of prisoners with details of conviction and personal history. Search the Index to Gaol Photographs, which is being regularly updated. One of the search options is by 'Birthplace'.

Records of professions and occupations. Short Guide 10 lists a selection of the more significant State archives relating to particular professions and occupations.

School records. Files, from c.1876 to 1979, include administrative documents relating to government schools and may be useful for areas where Greeks resided. See Archives in Brief 26 and the Index to Schools and related records.

In addition, there are related records such as admission rolls, from some schools.
A list of these records, arranged alphabetically by the name of the schools, is available in our reading room and as part of the above online index.

Other records may be identified in Archives Investigator. Researchers should consult the Register of Access Directions to confirm the public availability of records. State Records' staff can advise you on the availability of records if they are not listed on the register.

© State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority, 2003.
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