State Records Home
Personal tools
You are here :: Home The State Archives Guides and finding aids Archives In Brief Archives In Brief 95 - Dutch migration and settlement in NSW

Archives In Brief 95 - Dutch migration and settlement in NSW

Filed under: ,

References to the Dutch in NSW

Searching for individuals in the records

Individual people may be difficult to trace because State records are generally arranged in the original order maintained by the government agency that created them. Few agencies arranged records by person's 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 agency would have created these records. Some records have been indexed by persons' names and the relevant indexes are noted in this AIB.

Colonial Secretary's Papers, 1788-1825

The earliest records held by State Records relating to the Dutch are contained in the Colonial Secretary's Papers, 1788-1825. Included are letters from Antoine Hervel, a trader from Batavia, requesting permission to transfer his Dutch schooner Alligator to English Colours (23 April 1823) and to settle and take up land (23 May 1823).

Other references to the Dutch include the visit to Dirk Hartog's Island by Phillip Parker King and Allan Cunningham in 1822, visits to the Dutch Resident at Coepang, Timor (1818 and 1819) and papers re the sale of the Alligator, which includes a letter in Dutch.

Later Colonial Secretary's records

The following references to the Dutch are included in the Colonial Secretary's Special Bundles, NRS 906:

  • 'Costa Rica Packet' case, 1891-1899 [4/935.3-4/943]

This case concerned a case for compensation brought against the Dutch government which was sued for illegally detaining the ship's Master, J B Carpenter, and his vessel the Costa Rica Packet at Ternate in the Moluccas.

  • Assisted migrant agreement between Australia and the Netherlands, 1961-62, [2/4 pt].
  • Returns of persons accommodated at the Immigration Reception Depot, 1960-63, [2/4 pt].

The main record series are described in Archives Investigator and 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.

Dutch convicts

There were only small numbers of Dutch-born convicts transported to New South Wales. Examples include Joseph Aarons on the Princess Royal in 1823 and Raphael Gabey on the Camden in 1833.

Other convict records

Archives in Brief 2, Archives in Brief 34 and Archives in Brief 104 (PDF) provide summary information.
Additional information on convict records is provided in Archives Investigator, and the Guide to Convict Records (available in the reading room). There are also a number of indexes to convict records as well as indexes to related records such as the Index to Bench of Magistrates cases, 1788-1820 and Index to Quarter Sessions cases, 1824-37.

Immigration and shipping

The Dutch 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: NRS 13278, Passengers arriving (or Shipping lists, or Passenger lists), 1855-1922. These records are described in more detail in Archives in Brief 1.

The Mariners and Ships in Australian Waters website is searchable by port of departure. The index is updated regularly. It includes the names of passengers and crew and is being transcribed from NRS 13278. The Index to unassisted arrivals to NSW, 1842-55 compiled by Pastkeys also gives a port of departure, although arrangement is by surname. A CD version of this index covering the period 1842-56 is available in our reading room.
Details on a settler's arrival may be found from other sources for example, naturalization records (see below).

Post 1922 immigration records

The National Archives of Australia (NAA) holds post 1922 immigration records. See Fact Sheet 156 Records relating to Dutch migration held in Sydney. Contact: telephone 1300 886 881; or visit the NAA website.


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 Investigator and Archives in Brief 3 for a full list of records relating to naturalization.

William Paling (musician, merchant and philanthropist) who was born in Woerden, Netherlands, migrated to Sydney in 1855 according to his naturalisation records. He was naturalised in 1861, [4/1202] Reel 130. Other examples include Sampson de Groen who was naturalised in 1881 [4/1206] Reel 131 and Ary Vandenberg who was naturalised in 1897, [4/1212] Reel 137.

Index to naturalization records, 1834-1903

An index to people naturalized between 1834 and 1903 (including those receiving Letters of Denization) is available. There are 100 entries for Dutch-born persons being naturalised - 94 entries for people who gave 'Holland' as their birthplace and 6 for those who gave the 'Netherlands'.

Post 1903 naturalization records

The National Archives of Australia holds post 1903 naturalisation records and information on alien registration in NSW. Contact: telephone 1300 886 881; or visit the NAA website.


Business records

Some Dutch settlers, such as Ary Vandenberg & Son, Watchmaker & Jewellers opened small businesses. The Registers of firms under the Registration of Firms Act of 1902, 1903-22 NRS 12961 [2/8526-53] includes details about the address and the persons carrying on the business. The registers records the name of the firm; nature of the business; packet number of papers; place of business; statement number; date of registration; and details of persons carrying on the business. The entry for Ary Vandenberg & Son can be found in the register [2/8534] page 596. A partial index to firms registered under the Registration of Firms Act of 1902, c.1904 NRS 12962 is available.

Company records

The records of companies, such as the Netherlands Club [17/9286, No. 30731], 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, Register General. See also records of Agency No. 78, The Corporate Affairs Commission. Commercial directories such as Sands should be consulted for business names and addresses.

Insolvency and bankruptcy records

Insolvency and bankruptcy records include information about businesses and usually include a list of assets. See Archives in Brief 58 for more information.

See also the Index to Insolvency records, 1842-1887 Bankruptcy files, 1888-1928 NRS 13655, have a similar format to the Insolvency files. They are indexed on Reel 39, which is available in the reading room. The file for Johannus Ferdinandus Van Den Berg who arrived in New South Wales in 1917 is included in NRS 13655, file 24019 in [10/24022] dated 1925.

Probate packets and records of death duties

Probate packets

The Supreme Court issues 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.

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.

There is a Deceased Estate File [20/2266, No. 115121] for Dutch-born Guillaume Delprat who died in 1937. Although he died in Victoria, he had property in New South Wales. This meant he was liable for New South Wales death duties. Guillaume Delprat was manager of the Broken Hill Propriety Company Ltd and discovered a process of flotation for treating zinc concentrates using sulphuric acid.

Other sources

Adult Migrant Education. Consult the 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 Archives Investigator.

Divorce Records. See Archives in Brief 77 and the Index to Divorce Case Papers, 1873-1930. This index currently covers 1873-1923.

Governor. Despatches and enclosures from the Secretary of State relating to the fertilizer guano, 20 Jul 1863-17 Jun 1880, NRS 4514. The despatches include a reference to late 19th century claims by the Netherlands to the Ashmore Islands, [4/1621].

Land sales and transfers. Records relating to the purchase of land from the Crown can be found in the Archives Investigator. Records relating to the transfer of land between individuals are available from the NSW Department of Lands, 1 Prince Albert Road, Queen's Square, Sydney,

Prison records. See Archives Investigator for details. Post 1870s prison records may include photographs of prisoners with details of conviction and personal history. See the Index to Gaol Photographs which is regularly updated. One of the search options is by 'Birthplace'.

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

Population records. There was little Dutch migration to New South Wales prior to the end of the Second World War. The number of Dutch-born residents in New South Wales in 1891 was 284 according to the 1891 Census. By the 1901 Census it had fallen to 212. Collectors' books listing householders are available (see Short Guide 7 and Short Guide 12). Reports on both censuses are also held by State Records.

Railway Passes. Registers of Free Railway Passes, 1880-92, NRS 5283, [4/4678-85] includes information on nationality. There are some references to Dutch-born pass holders. The Registers have been indexed by Pastkeys (Fiche 6118-6126).

School records. Files, from c.1876 to 1979, include administrative documents relating to government schools and may be useful for areas where Dutch resided. See Archives in Brief 26 and the Index to School files and related records. In addition, there are related records such as admission rolls, from some schools listed in the online index. For example, the Harbord Public School Admission Register 1954-62 [1/6462] includes the names of Dutch children attending the school.

Water Resources M.I.A. files, 1911-28, NRS 14511, [17/467-703]. 237 boxes. These files relate to the establishment and operation of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. They include a 1913 proposal to bring out Dutch settlers to the area [17/475].

© State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority, 2003.
This work may be freely reproduced and distributed for most purposes, however some restrictions apply. See our copyright notice or contact us.