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Index to insolvency records

Filed under:
Insolvency is the inability to pay your debts or meet your expenses. Under early colonial law insolvency was treated as a different concept to bankruptcy (which involved an insolvents assets being administered and distributed to creditors).

About the Index | Accessing the records  Historical background | Feedback

Removing tar adhesive residueImportant!A proportion of State archives are fragile and for this reason we may withhold access to the original archive until it has received attention from our Conservation staff. Archives will be checked on a case by case basis as they are requested either in the Reading Room or for a copy order. If an archive requires conservation treatment there will be a delay in the archive being issued and/or copied. Conservation treatments can take up to six months to be completed.

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About the Index

The index covers the years 1842-87, surnames A-Z. There are 23108 entries to search.

Thank you Heather and Martyn!A-H of the index was compiled by Heather Garnsey and Martyn Killion of the Society of Australian Genealogists. We would like thank them for their contribution to this joint initiative.

If you cannot find a name in the Index

If the name of a known insolvent does not appear in the index, researchers are advised to consult the NSW Government Gazette in the relevant timeframe to assist in locating the file reference.

References to files that have been used previously, and which do not appear in the website index, can still be used to retrieve the file.

Record series used to compile the Index

This index was compiled from:

NRS 13656, Supreme Court Insolvency index, 1842-87, Reel 38

It is not a comprehensive listing of the Insolvency files, NRS 13654 [2/8650-10411] and some names may have been omitted from the index.

Please fill out the feedback form or advise the reading room staff of any omissions so that the index can be updated.

Accessing the records

The original records are available to view in the reading room at the Western Sydney Records Centre.

If you find an entry that you are interested in you can pre-order the record for viewing at the WSRC.

Are copies available from this index?

We do not offer a copy service from this index. Due to the physical size of the files copies can only be ordered in the reading room after viewing the records.

Historical background

The jurisdiction of insolvency was recognised in New South Wales in 1823 with the Act to Provide for the better Administration of Justice in New South Wales. The Act allowed the Supreme Court to examine the affairs of those unable to pay creditors.

The Act did not stop people continuing to be imprisoned for debt. In 1830 the two concepts of insolvency and bankruptcy were combined in the Act for the Relief of Debtors and for an Equal Distribution of their Estates and Effects amongst Creditors.

In 1887 the Bankruptcy jurisdiction of the Supreme Court was established under the Act to amend and consolidate the law relating to insolvency and bankruptcy.

This Act provided clear guidelines on the process from insolvency to bankruptcy. That is, from the inability to meet creditors to the distribution of assets.

From 1888 insolvency records were combined with bankruptcy records.

QuestionsSequestration Order – The order made by the court giving the trustee control of the debtor’s property. The date of sequestration is the official date on which the debtor becomes bankrupt.


We would appreciate any feedback and suggestions you may have on using the Index.