01 September 2011
TheGenealogist has added a collection of Australian records to its Diamond Premium subscription, providing a detailed portrait o
TheGenealogist has added a collection of Australian records to its Diamond Premium subscription, providing a detailed portrait of life in Britain’s penal colonies on the continent.
The records detail both those who were sent as convicts down under, and their subsequent lives upon the grant of a pardon. Material for the early years of the colony in New South Wales includes details of the First Fleet, lists of convicts from 1788-1819 and 1828-1834, freed convicts from 1810-1820, and pardons from 1838-1859. Further pardons and tickets of leave for both the colony and Tasmania (Van Diemen’s Land) are available from 1834-1838, with other Tasmanian offerings including convict pardons from 1840-1848 and pardon recommendations from 1849-1859. Additional records include general musters for New South Wales and Norfolk Island for 1806 and 1837, with additional musters for New South Wales from 1811, 1822, 1823, 1824, 1825 and 1828, as well as a census for New South Wales from 1828.
Among the stories revealed by the new collection is that of Irish convict Alexander Pearce, who was transported to Tasmania in 1817 for stealing six pairs of shoes. Pearce escaped in 1822, but after being recaptured was sent to the penal establishment of ‘Sarah Island’ in Macquarie Harbour. Following another escape with seven other convicts, Pearce was the last survivor to be caught, having turned to cannibalism with his fellow escapees. After a third escape he was again caught, this time with human remains found in his pockets, and was subsequently hanged.
By Chris Paton, originally published in Family Tree October 2011