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PROVguide 57: Convict Records

Courts and Criminal Justice – Convict Records

Convicts as referred to in this PROVguide are those people convicted of an offence in Britain, or a British colony, whose sentence was to be transported to New South Wales, Tasmania or Western Australia.  Transportation officially ceased in New South Wales and Tasmania in 1853 and in Western Australia in 1868.  Strictly speaking, no convicts were transported directly to the Port Phillip District of New South Wales. However convicts did find their way to the District, and this generally happened in one of three ways: a convict from Sydney could be assigned to a work gang in Port Phillip; a ticket of leave holder might enter Port Phillip from either New South Wales or Tasmania to work and was required to register with the authorities; or the convict may have been an Exile.

A select list of convict records held at PROV

The following records are available on microfiche or microfilm through PROV’s reading rooms and do not have to be ordered.

Registers and indexes

VPRS 2149 Register of Convicts (Superintendent, Port Phillip District) 1842 – 1854.  This is a microfilm copy of VPRS 110 which is available online. This single volume covers Melbourne, Bourke and Westernport.

Details recorded are:

  • assigned servants
  • nominal list of ticket of leave holders in Port Phillip District 1843-1848
  • applications for ticket of leave commencing 1 Jan 1843
  • applications for pardons Feb 1845 – May 1854
  • certificates of freedom delivered Jul 1848 – Dec 1851
  • fees received

VPRS 4323 Convict Indents: New South Wales 1788 – 1842, a microfilm copy of records relating to convicts transported to New South Wales.  To access these records researchers can consult the microfiche Index to New South Wales Convict Indents 1788 – 1842, published by the Genealogical Society of Victoria.  The original convict indents are held by State Records New South Wales. 

VPRS 2148 Microfilm Copy of Letter Book- Letters Outward (Melbourne Court of Petty Sessions) 1843 – 1852.  This letter book contains an alphabetical name index to hearings and cases.

VPRS 108/P0 Register, Police Magistrate, Portland, 1840-1853, available online.

This volume contains entries relating to police and sheriffs’ salaries, register of arms, and lists of ticket of leave holders.


Unless mentioned otherwise, the following records are original records and can be ordered on PROV’s online catalogue for viewing at the Victorian Archives Centre reading room. 

VPRS 4729 Inward Registered Correspondence (Police Magistrate, Port Phillip District) 1836 – 1839  Use VPRS 6920 Inward Correspondence Register 1836 – 1839, to identify relevant records.

VPRS 19 Inward Registered Correspondence (Superintendent, Port Phillip District) 1839 – 1851

Use the following microfilm records to identify relevant records in VPRS 19:

VPRS 2138 Index to Inward Correspondence 1839 – 1843

VPRS 2139 Registers of Inward Correspondence 1839 – 1851

VPRS 44 Inward Registered and Unregistered Correspondence 1839 – 1896

A list of records in this series is available online.  For example, Unit 504 of this series contains Robert Hoddle’s return of convicts employed by the Survey Branch around 1844.

Victorian Parliament

VPRS 2599 Original Papers Tabled in the Legislative Council c1851 – ct

Units 500 and 502 contain documents relating to the Influx of Criminals Prevention Bill and various Select Committee Reports.

Please note: To access records created by the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council of the Victorian Parliament, written permission from the Clerk of the Legislative Council or Legislative Assembly, must first be obtained.  Once permission has been granted, written approval must be presented at the Victorian Archives Centre reading room before the records will be made available.  Consult the Parliament of Victoria website for contact details:

A select list of records relating to Exiles

Exiles were people who had been convicted of an offence in Britain and were serving their sentence in an English prison, and who were then transported to the Australian colonies.  Certain prisoners, depending on their crime, who were seen as being well behaved while serving the early part of their sentence were given an option of being sent to the Australian colonies, and on arrival being given a conditional pardon.  The condition of the pardon was that the person remained in the colony for the duration of the unexpired part of their sentence.  In effect they were exiled to Australia.

VPRS 89 Notification of Pardon of Exiles (Superintendent, Port Phillip District) 1844 – 1849

This series lists prisoners under sentence of transportation, including their name and the date and place of their conviction.

Use Index to Registers of Assisted Immigrants from UK 1839 – 1871, available online, to access references to passenger lists from VPRS 7310 Registers of Assisted Immigrants from UK 1839 – 1871, available on microfiche.  VPRS 7310 records the arrival of passenger ships to Port Phillip and Victoria.  The ships carrying exiles are:




No of Exiles

Royal George

16 Nov 1844



Sir George Seymour

 Mar 1845




27 Jan  1846




10 Jan  1847



Thomas Arbuthnot

 4  May 1847



Joseph Somes

24  Sep 1847




27  Jan  1848



Anna Maria

23  Jun  1848




21  Feb  1849



Microform resources

See PROV’s guides to Microfilm, Microfiche and Online Resources at the Victorian Archives Centre, and Microfilm, Microfiche and Online Resources at the Ballarat Archives Centre for more information about accessing records about convicts on microfilm and microfiche.  Records on microfiche and microfilm are available through PROV’s reading rooms and do not have to be ordered.

Further information

See PROVguide 58 Prison Records for information about researching prison and prisoner-related records.

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