Free men and women who courted were considered to be ‘promised in marriage’. Expectations were set as to how the forthcoming marriage would advantage both parties socially and economically. When a promise of marriage was broken—or breached—the offending party could be pursued through the civil courts for the value of ‘lost expectations’.
Deceased Estates are a financial record of the person’s estate when they die and frequently have very detailed information about a person’s possessions.
Probate packets hold the last will and testament, codicils (additions or revocations to the will) or letters of administration. Other documents include an inventory of assets of the estate; affidavits of death and papers produced by the executor.
Bankruptcy files contain lists of creditors that the bankrupt person owed money to and debtors that owed money to the bankrupt person. Through these lists they show commercial connections in a town, between towns and with Sydney. The bankrupt person provides a statement about why they became bankrupt often providing a picture of what is happening in the town and beyond.
The convict James Freeman was found guilty in the Criminal Court on 29 February 1788 of stealing flour. The fledgling Colony was barely a month old, and supplies of food were limited. Theft of such items was therefore viewed with the utmost seriousness, hence the draconian death sentence that was handed down. However, there was a need to find someone to undertake the task of dispatching condemned felons via the hangman’s noose, and who better than a convict who could hardly refuse the job offer, given the alternative?