The accepted authoritative work on Australian convicts is Charles Bateson's Convict Ships (Library of Australian History, out of print); in it, Bateson states that 160,151 total convicts were sent to Australia. Although most of the convicts were from the British Isles, some were also from various British colonies. The British Government first sent convicts to New South Wales, Australia in 1788, after the American Revolution. But NSW refused to accept convicts after 1842 because the population had grown after the success of free immigration. Convicts were first sent to Tasmania (formerly Van Diemens Land) in 1803. Western Australian accepted male convicts only from 1850 to 1868. [An attempt was also made to send convicts to Port Phillip (Melbourne, Victoria), but this failed.]
This database is an index compiled from the convict indexes for each state, from numerous publications, and also from many Internet sites. It gives the name of the convict, his/her age or birth year, birthplace or place of trial, occupation, marital status, ship, and year of arrival. The database includes more than 48,000 names of convicts sent to Australia between 1788 and 1868.
After the American Revolution, England was no longer able to dispose of its convicts in the New World. Instead, it turned its attention to Australia. In 1788, the first fleet of convicts was sent from the British Isles. This transportation scheme continued until 1868 and primarily involved three Australian states: New South Wales (NSW) from 1788; Tasmania (Van Diemens Land) from 1803; and Western Australia from 1850.
The information collected in this database is quite detailed at times, including physical descriptions, although the convict indentures up until approximately 1813 in NSW can be quite brief. Children as young as 10 were charged and transported, and because the convicts came from various British colonies, their roots are quite diverse.
As mentioned, this index has been compiled from a cross-section of sources. The essence of the information can be obtained from the respective archive offices in Australia and also from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Web sites concerning convicts can be accessed at: http://www.janetreakesgenealogy.com/ConvictResearch/ConvictResearch.htm.
Further information on convicts can be obtained from the following state archive offices:
Archives Office of Tasmania
77 Murray St.
Hobart, TAS 7000
Fax: (03) 6233-7471 or INT +61 +3 6233-7471
State Records Office of Western Australia
Alexander Library, Perth Cultural Centre
Perth, WA 6000
Fax: (08) 9427-3256 or INT +61 +8 9427-3256