This index will be of interest to those whose ancestors may have been unemployed in 1866 and wish to learn of their situation and possibly their approximate arrival in the colony. It also provides a snapshot of economic conditions in Sydney in 1866.
Search the index or browse the digital copies of the records. You may download copies of the digital images for your personal use. If you wish to use the images in a publication please read Publishing / Citing State Archives.
- Record series in the index: NRS 906 Colonial Secretary's Special Bundles: Persons out of employment in Sydney, 1866 [4/581.2]
- Entries in the index: 3,000+
About the Records
After responsible government was introduced in 1856 the minister, known as the Colonial Secretary (at times known as the Principal Secretary, or Chief Secretary), frequently acted as Premier or Prime Minister. This was prior to the establishment of the Premier's Department in 1907. During the nineteenth century the Colonial Secretary's Department was undoubtedly the most important administrative unit in New South Wales. It had dealings with other public offices on nearly all major developments and activities, as well as having responsibility for a wide and varied range of functions. Thus the correspondence of the Colonial Secretary's Department is a significant source of information on those in the colony of New South Wales.
At the direction of the NSW Colonial Secretary, the Inspector General of Police had been asked to report on persons out of employment in Sydney. The information was gathered by the police and detectives.
The Inspector General of Police does state in his covering letter to the Colonial Secretary dated 29 October 1866 that, 'the accurancy of the lists cannot be relied upon' (Colonial Secretary Letter No.66/5235, registered 30 October 1866 in [4/581.2].
The lists of the unemployed record: name; residence; trade or occupation; married or single; if married number of children; how long in the colony; how long out of employment; and, how much earned during the last 6 months.
Please note that some of the handwriting throughout the list was difficult to read and volunteers have done their best to transcribe the details. Where they have not been able to read the name [illegible] has been entered in its place. If you have any feedback in relation to the names in the index please use the feedback and suggestions link below to let us know.
- NRS 5281 Registers of the unemployed 1860, [4/4677] Reel 3694 and 1880, [4/4687] Reel 3694. Index compiled by Pastkeys. A copy of this index is available on microfiche in the Western Sydney reading room.
- NRS 5283 Register of free railway passes for the unemployed, 1880-92. Index compiled by Pastkeys. A copy of this index is available on microfiche in the Western Sydney reading room.
This index was initiated by Ann Smith and completed by NSW State Archives staff and volunteers. We wish to acknowledge Ann Smith's contribution to this index.