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Index to Applications to Marry 1826-51

Indexed so far - January 1826 to April 1833 and January 1838 to March 1841

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Thank you Clifford and Fay!This index was compiled by Clifford McNeil and Fay McKenzie-Edmonds [4/4508], Elizabeth Roberts [4/4510], (who also retain the copyright) and State Records Volunteers. State Records wishes to acknowledge their combined contribution to this index.


In the early years of the Colony, most marriages followed the publication of banns in a church on three successive Sundays. Convicts were married by banns having first sought official permission.

The Registers of convicts' applications to marry, 1825-51 (NRS 12212) record key details about the parties applying for permission to marry including: their names; their ages; the date of permission or refusal; ship of arrival; sentence (for the party who was the convict); whether free or bond and the name of the clergyman. While the registers can add considerably to the convict’s ‘profile’, they can also be a valuable resource for tracing those elusive ancestors who may have ‘arrived free’ but have proved to be difficult to locate in the shipping lists. The details of the party who was ‘free’, including the name of the ship of arrival in some cases, were often recorded. Sometimes this was the only time the information was recorded in official sources.

The registers also include entries where the application to marry was refused. Researchers should also note that even when the parties received permission to marry, the marriage may not have gone ahead. In fact, it appears that some convicts made more than one successful application to marry, often seeking to marry a different person on each occasion.

The first permission to marry recorded in these registers was granted on 6 January 1826, and the first refusal on 9 June 1826.

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Record series used to compile this Index

This is a partial index and will be progressively added to over time. The following series has been partially indexed:

NRS 12212 Registers of convicts' applications to marry, 20 Dec 1825 - 26 Feb 1851 [4/4508-14, 4/1117.4; microfiche copy SR Fiche 780-802]
Indexed so far: January 1826 - April 1833 [4/4508] and January 1838 - March 1841 [4/4510]

Further research

The earliest references to applications by convicts wishing to marry are contained in the Colonial Secretary’s Papers, 1788-1825. They can be located by searching under the person's name in the online index to the Colonial Secretary’s Papers 1788-1825 . The Papers are on microform and can be viewed in the reading room or at one of the community access points.

Further information may possibly be located in:

NRS 905 Main series of letters received [Colonial Secretary] 1826-1982. See the Guide to the Colonial Secretary records.

The 1826-41 clergy returns of the ‘lists of persons applying for the publication of banns’ have been indexed. The Index to NSW Marriage Banns, which was compiled by the late Joan Reese and Norma Tuck, is available on microfiche in the reading room. The clergy returns have been microfilmed and the reels are also available in the reading room.

To locate a record of a marriage search the online index compiled by the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. For further information on marriage records see to Short Guide 2: Birth, Death and marriage records.


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