We recently launched online for the first time the more than 42,000 Australian convict records in the NSW Tickets of Leave Butts 1824-1867. The collection includes Registers of Tickets of Leave 1824-1827, which offers prisoner details in ledger format, and Ticket of Leave Butts 1827-1867.
The butts were essentially copies of the ‘Tickets’ given to each convict and details the following information: prisoner’s number, name, ship arrived on, master of ship, year of arrival, native place, trade or calling, offence, place of trial, date of trial, sentence, year of birth, complexion, height, colour of hair, colour of eyes, general remarks, the district prisoner is allocated to, the Bench who recommended him and the date of issue of ticket.
The ticket of leave system was introduced in 1801 by Governor King to reduce the financial burden of convicts and as a reward for good behaviour. Convict recipients were granted limited freedom to live and travel within defined areas, to work for their own benefit and to acquire property.
They were considered a class above the other ‘full term’ convicts and often rose to positions of power and influence within the colony prior to the expiry of their sentence.
James Tucker, an alleged author originally from Bristol, arrived in Sydney on the ship Midas in 1827 after being sentenced to life for writing a threatening letter to his cousin.
Over the next 30 years, Tucker was granted five tickets of leave, four of which were revoked for various reasons including drunkenness, forgery and court absence. He had one reinstated in recognition of his efforts to put out a fire at the Royal Hotel. After receiving his last ticket of leave in 1853, James disappeared from the convict system.
This collection adds to our existing collection of more than 2.3 million convict records. With more than four million Australians having descended from convicts, approximately one in five can claim convict history and will likely have an ancestor included in the collection.