- Early Russian Visitors
- Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay (1846-1888)
- Passengers and Crew Records
- Convicts Records
- Census Records
- Naturalization Records
- Business and Company Records
- Coroners’ records
- Prison records
- Railway Passes
- Theatres and Public Halls
- Police Gazettes
- Crimean War
- Seminar Papers on Russian Migration and Settlement
- Other sources in the Archives
Early Russian Visitors
A number of Russian Ships visited Sydney in the first quarter of the 19th century. A Russian naturalist, Mr Stein and a Russian painter, Mr Karneyeff, attached to an expedition of two Russian naval vessels, made a tour of the Blue Mountains with Allan Cunningham in March 1820. See the comprehensive Index to Colonial Secretary Papers, 1788-1825 for further references.
Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay (1846-1888)
Baron Nicholas de Miklouho-Maclay, was an ethnologist, anthropologist and biologist born in Russia who arrived in Sydney on the ship Somerset from Hong Kong on 18 July 1878. On 9 June 1879 he was appointed Trustee of land set apart for a Zoological Station at Watson’s Bay, having been instrumental in bringing the idea to the notice of government. He served as a Trustee of the establishment until 1886. He married Margaret-Emma, daughter of the New South Wales Premier, John Robertson, in 1884.
References to Baron Maclay’s involvement with the Zoological Station at Watson’s Bay may be found in the records of the Colonial Secretary.
Passengers and Crew Records
Passenger and crew records can be found in the series Passengers arriving (or Shipping lists or Passenger lists), 1855-1922, NRS 13278. These records are described in more detail in the Immigration and Shipping Guide.
Mrs Jakow and two Misses Jakow, saloon passengers, and Mr Bashikof, steerage, Russians, arrived in Sydney on board the ship Victoria on 7 May 1909.
NRS 13278, [X258], Reel 2045
Emelian Kordukoff, aged 33, a labourer, Vsevolod Sudakoff, aged 38, an engineer, and Mary Sudakoff, aged 27, a married woman, Russians, arrived in Sydney on the ship Carignano on 2 March 1922.
NRS 13278, [X462], Reel 2120
Joseph Blosenkoff, of Russia, aged 56, sailmaker, is listed as a crew member of the ship Carnatic arriving Sydney 29 November 1881.
NRS 13278, [X154], Reel 448
Vacily Smirnoff, AB seaman, of Russia, aged 25 is listed as a crew member for the ship Elisa Lihn arriving Sydney 8 September 1914.
NRS 13278, [X391], Reel 2081
Crew reported as deserters from their vessels can be found in the series NRS 10958 Police Gazettes.
William Cronen, aged 24, a Russian, appears on a list of seamen deserters from the British ship Thyatira in a notice dated 26 June 1872 in the New South Wales Police Gazette.
NRS 10958, [1/3207], Reel 3133
Some Russian-born mariners obtained certificates of competency as masters, mates or engineers issued from the NSW Navigation Department.
John Olije, born in Russia 18 June 1841 qualified as First Mate, Foreign-going ship, on 24 October 1876 and as Master, Foreign-going ship, on 15 January 1878.
NRS 10783, Reel 3718, COD 196
We hold various convict records of arrival, tickets of leave, pardons and certificates of freedom , together with related records which document the convict experience.
Constantin Milcow, born in Moscow in 1783, was convicted at the Old Bailey, London, on 10 May 1815 for stealing seventeen pounds weight of bacon, value 11s. He received a sentence of transportation for seven years. He arrived in Sydney per the transport Atlas III on 22 July 1816. In 1822 he was in the service of Archibald Bell and in 1825 he was free and employed by Mr. McArthur of Argyle.
The published report of the Census of the Colony of NSW taken in 1891 shows total numbers of natives of Russia as 1,176 of whom 987 were male and 189 female (the total number of Russian-born in New South Wales in the previous census of 1881 was 322).
Collectors’ books for the 1891 and 1901 census, listing householders’ names, are available.
Naturalization was the means by which persons who were not British subjects gained the privileges and rights of citizenship. A person who was not a British subject and wished to vote or own land had to be naturalized. Naturalization records are an important source as they can provide both the date of arrival and the name of the ship.
Ernest Krantz of Broken Hill, native of St. Petersburg, Russia, aged 24, a grocer who states he arrived in New South Wales in 1892 per ship Hohenzollern, was naturalized on 8 July 1901.
NRS 1040, [4/1214], Reel 139
Iwan de Casarowitsch, native of Odessa, Russian Empire, aged 28, states he arrived in New South Wales in 1855 per ship Marr and resides at 47 Pitt Street, Sydney. He was naturalized on 5 January 1857.
NRS 1040, [4/1200], Reel 129
Business and Company Records
Registers of firms under the Registration of Firms Act of 1902, 1903–22 NRS 12961, [2/8526-8553]
The registers record 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 Registers of firms are being indexed on our website.
Karnofsky Brothers (Israel and Meyer Karnofsky), Commonwealth Stores, Barrengarry. Israel Karnofsky’s naturalization gives his native place as Russia.
NRS 12961, [2/8535 p.389]
The records of companies 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 the catalouge in series NRS 12951.
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 1916.
The Register of Coroners Inquests for the year 1929 shows that on 12 August 1929 an enquiry was held into the death in Pyrmont of Frederick Oscar Widen aged 34, born in Russia. The enquiry recorded that he died from the effects of injuries but that no evidence had been found to determine how he had received them.
NRS 343, Reel 2767
The Index to Gaol Photographs can be searched by birthplace, for example ‘Russia’.
The Bathurst Gaol photograph description sheet for John Burtovich native of Russia, born 15 September 1892 records that he was convicted at Broken Hill Police Court on 3 September 1917 for being a member of an unlawful association and sentenced to 6 months hard labour. His description notes that he arrived in New South Wales per the ship Eliza in 1915 and was a labourer by trade.
NRS 1998, [3/5966], Reel 5087
NRS 5283, Registers of Free Railway Passes, 1880-1892, [4/4678-4685] include information on nationality. They have been indexed by Pastkeys Fiche 6118-6126 and on CD (see the reading room computers).
Joseph Pacholkoff, aged 39, a labourer, single, born in Russia received a pass on 5 August 1881 to travel to Dubbo. The register indicates that he arrived from New Zealand and had been one day in the Colony of New South Wales.
NRS 5283, [4/4678]
Theatres and Public Halls
Files relating to licences for theatres and public halls, c.1895-1976, NRS 15318. Search the catalogue by name of theatre, club or hall.
Russian Social Club, Sydney 1940-1976, NRS 15318, [17/3620.1]
NRS 10958, Police Gazettes, 1862-1982, may contain entries and possibly photographs of Russian people. The years 1862-1899 are copied onto Reels 3129–3143 and 1900-1930 are on Reels 3594-3606 and can be viewed in the reading room.
Charles Arount, native place Russia, a chef by trade, discharged from Maitland Gaol 9 January 1922 on a return of prisoners discharged.
NRS 10958, [1/3257 p.51], Reel 3601
The outbreak of hostilities between Britain and Russia in the Crimea in 1854 brought a concern for the security of the Colony of New South Wales against a possible Russian invasion. The records of the Colonial Secretary show passing references in correspondence. One result of this concern was the strengthening of the fortifications later known as Fort Denison.
Seminar Papers on Russian Migration and Settlement
On 31 May 2010 NSW State Archives and the Royal Australian Historical Society co-hosted a seminar exploring the history Russian migration and settlement from colonial times to the present through a range of record sources. The seminar was presented as part of Information Awareness Month, an annual event held each May, which aims to increase public awareness of the breadth of the information industry.
NSW State Archives has published a selection of the papers from the seminar:
Fiona Burn, National Archives of Australia Sydney Office
John Petersen, Manager, NSW Migration Heritage Centre
- Camphor Boxes And China Ducklings - Mementos Of Shanghai And Olga Burger’s Migration Memories (PDF, 82KB)
Peter Tatarinoff, President, Russian Historical Society in Australia
- Russian links with Australia (PDF, 267kb)
Mona Finley, Local and family historian; daughter of Don Cossack Choir member T.S. Askotchensky
Other sources in the Archives
- Coloinal Secretary
- Bankruptcy and Insolvency
- Probate Packets
- Deceased Estate Files
- Intestate Files
- School records