Posted by on December 18, 2012 in Australia, Content, Convicts

Over 1.8 million NSW crime and law records now available on Ancestry.com.au

We recently added the New South Wales Police Gazettes 1854-1930 collection and 120,000 new records to the New South Wales, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930 collection.

These collections offer a window into the lives of people on both sides of the law, from lists of police officers, promotions and retirements, to victims, suspects, criminals and convictions.

With the holidays approaching, research[i]shows 81% of Australians feel Christmas is a time to get together as a family and to reminisce and share stories – making it the ideal time to start exploring the stories that make up your family’s history. The research also highlights that almost three quarters of the population consider passing on family history as important.

With over half of Australians surveyed identifying that they have at least three generations present at Christmas, Aussies, especially those with  an ‘uncertain’ past, can use the New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books to gain unique insights into the physical characteristics and make up of their ancestors. Details about inmates include names, aliases, occupation and standard of education, as well as physical information including hair and eye colour, marks or special features and sometimes even a portrait.

The Police Gazettes collection offers a peek into 19th century New South Wales law and order. It’s made up of digitised microfilm issues of the New South Wales Police Gazette and Weekly Record of Crime, as well as a few issues of theVictoria Police Gazette from the late 1850s. It was an official publication reporting weekly on crime and police business for the police force.

The Police Gazettes reveal some of the strict laws that were in place in the 1900s, several of which would surely land many current day Australians in jail. Some of the reasons listed in the collection for taking out a warrant include:

  • Using obscene language in a bar
  • Raising dust on a footway
  • Driving a cart at a pace faster than a walk in the streets
  • Failing to keep premises clean
  • Behaving in a riotous manner
  • Being an ‘uncontrollable’ child

Brad Argent, Ancestry.com.au Content Director for Australia and New Zealand, comments: “Christmas is the perfect time to learn more about your past as you will often have multiple generations of family members gathered together under one roof.

Every family has an interesting story to tell, and if your ancestors appear in these records then their story might add a little spice to the Christmas pudding”

Access the NSW, Police Gazettes, 1854-1930 online or  check out our latest video on Searching the NSW Police Gazettes

[i]The Australians’ attitudes towards family history survey was commissioned by Ancestry.com.au in September 2010 and was conducted by The Online Research Unit (ORU) who polled a nationally representative sample of a 1000 people across Australia aged 18 and over.