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If you’ve not been on the Ancestry website recently, it might be worth another relook as Ancestry has been busy adding many new records that relate to Australia and New Zealand research over the past few months … just in time for the Christmas/New Year research-fest when many have holidays.

Amongst these millions of records, you’ll find more birth records, land records, morgue registers, crew lists, land grants and cemeteries to check out, all of which should make many happy over the holidays.

New South Wales, Australia, Colonial Secretary’s Papers, 1788-1856UPDATED
The collection Colonial Secretary’s Papers, 1788–1856 from New South Wales contains information about colonial administration. Within these records you can find significant information about your ancestors if they lived or immigrated to New South Wales during this time period. If they requested to marry, resettle in New South Wales, or acquire a land grant these requests would have been processed by the colonial secretary or other administrative personnel.

Letters and records of various events make up the majority of the collections: petitions by convicts for sentence mitigation, marriage permission requests, character memorials for potential settlers, land grant or lease applications, official visit reports, information about court cases, and lists of assigned servants.

Australia Birth Index, 1788-1922UPDATED
The Australia Birth Index has had more entries added to it, and it now contains over 5.1 million entries, though it is still far from complete. Civil Registration stated in the Australian states and territories (colonies) in the following years:
Tasmania, 1838
Western Australia, 1841
South Australia, 1842
Victoria, 1853
New South Wales, 1856
Queensland, 1856 (before 1856, see NSW)
Northern Territory, 1870 (1856–1863, see NSW; 1863–1870 see SA)

Sydney, Australia, Morgue Registers of Bodies, 1881-1908NEW
This collection contains registers from Sydney morgues listing autopsies done on bodies that relatives brought in or that were found. Typical information recorded includes name of deceased, death date, date the body was found, autopsy date, name of doctor, name of medical attendant, birthplace, age, occupation, and gender, as well as notes on the state of the body, cause of death, and other comments from the doctor.

New South Wales, Australia, Criminal Court Records, 1830-1945UPDATED
The Supreme Court in New South Wales heard the most serious criminal cases, whilst the General and Quarter Sessions dealt with all crimes and misdemeanours not punishable with death. This collection includes criminal case calendars, indexes of criminal cases and eligible jurors, criminal case registers and returns, registers of depositions, registers of fines and forfeitures, and other related records. This collection includes court records from Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Berrima, Broken Hill, Campbelltown, Cook, Cootamundra, Deniliquin, Dubbo, Eden, Goulburn, Grafton, Hay, Lismore, Maitland, Moree, Narrabri, Narrandera, Newcastle, Parramatta, Sydney, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga, Windsor, and Wollongong.

One of the interesting subsets of this collection is the Registry of Flash Men, which is a journal documenting underworld life in 1840s Sydney, kept by William Augustus Miles, the Superintendent, then Commissioner, of the Sydney Police, 1840–1848. Each entry contains a little sketch of a criminal, with notations on the crime(s) committed, past incarceration, and sometimes names of associates and family.

New South Wales, Australia, Registers of Seamen, 1859-1936NEW
Ancestry partnered with State Records NSW to bring these records to you. This collection of over 270,000 entries contains registers of seamen engaged or discharged in New South Wales, Australia, between the years 1859 and 1936. You’ll also find registers of certificates of competency issued between 1905 and 1933. These certificates were issued to masters, engineers, first mates, pilots, and others.

Records vary depending on type and year, but you may find some of the following details:

  • name
  • age
  • birth date
  • birthplace
  • vessel
  • engagement or discharge date
  • capacity (i.e., occupation)
  • master or vessel owner
  • last ship
  • where sailor boarded or was discharged current ship
  • address
  • remarks
  • and you may also find some details about voyages.

New South Wales, Australia, Land Grants, 1788-1963NEW
This collection of almost 200,000 entries includes a variety of land grants for New South Wales, Australia. The format of these records varies, as does the degree of information recorded. Details can include the date and location of the grant, description, name of the grantee, amount paid, and names of witnesses.

Ancestry give a little bankground on the granting on land: Governor Phillip, in his Instructions dated 25 April 1787, was empowered to grant land to emancipists. Each male was entitled to 30 acres, an additional 20 acres if married, and 10 acres for each child with him in the settlement at the time of the grant. To encourage free settlers to the colony, Phillip received additional Instructions dated 20 August 1789 entitling non-commissioned Marine officers to 100 acres and privates to 50 acres, over and above the quantity allowed to convicts. Other settlers coming to the colony were also to be given grants.

New Zealand Cemetery RecordsNEW
Ancestry have just added over 1.6 million headstone transcriptions from New Zealand cemeteries. These cover the period 1800 to 2007, and are available to search now.

These transcriptions of headstones from cemeteries in New Zealand typically include details such as name, birth date, death date, and the cemetery name and plot location. But they may also provide family relationships with name and other details about a spouse, cause of death, military dates, an epitaph, or even a description of the headstone.

Happy researching! 😉