Biographical Database of Australia

Biographical Database of Australia – 2nd release: 18 new Datasets

16th September 2014



Sydney Cove by Thomas Watling 1794 : courtesy Dixson Galleries, State Library of New South Wales

Sydney Cove by Thomas Watling 1794 : courtesy Dixson Galleries, State Library of New South Wales

A legacy of Australia’s penal colonies and immigration schemes is a genealogical and historical treasure trove of archival and biographical records. They are being transcribed and linked to create the Biographical Database of Australia (BDA), made up of biographical profiles of deceased persons born in Australia or who arrived as convicts or immigrants.   


To mark its first anniversary BDA will be uploading 18 new datasets (listed below) containing 400,000 additional entries from all states, transcribed from manuscript and published biographical sources.


They include 15,000+ full text mini-biographies published 1879-1905 of middle class professionals, farmers and small businessmen in town and rural communities in all states (nearly 10,000 of them in Victoria) as well as of well-known historical figures.


Also included are a further 7,000 colonial biographies from all states contributed by descendants to the Australian Biographical and Genealogical Record (checked and edited), 2,000+ brief biographies of Australian and NZ clergy in 1878 and biographical summaries for 1,441+ people embarked on the First Fleet in 1787.


Single women Emigrants

Example of an advertisement for single women Emigrants to Tasmania (formerly known as Van Diemen’s Land)

New transcripts of original sources include Commissariat ration records (1812-1822) for 1,400 people in the Windsor/Hawkesbury district (NSW) listing the military as well as free people and convicts, lists of free passengers arriving and departing NSW 1788-1825, NSW inquests, convict pardons, convict wives, tickets of leave, indents and a remarkable collection of more than 10,000 transcribed epitaphs from the former Sydney Burial Ground in Devonshire Street, Sydney (1819-1901) as well as details of burials and family members who paid for removal of remains and memorials when the cemetery was closed in 1901. 


BDA celebrated its first birthday on 8 September 2014. Existing subscribers are asked to renew their subscription and to encourage friends, relatives, local libraries, schools, historical and genealogical societies to subscribe to BDA to assist this non-profit project’s ongoing web development and administration costs. The annual fee for personal subscribers is just $30. Click here to subscribe/renew to explore half a million records.


BDA aims to help researchers find one person among thousands and to avoid confusing persons of the same name. For the first time members of the garrison, exempted from muster and census records, are listed with free and convict colonists. BDA already includes all members of the NSW Corps 1790-1810. They will now be joined by records of the First Fleet marines of 1788 and the 73rd regiment serving in NSW and Tasmania 1809-1814.


To join BDA as an individual (just $30 for 1 year) click here. Historical and genealogical societies can also subscribe to this non-profit project by clicking here. Libraries can  click here to join.


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We monitor our website for appropriate usage to prevent copyright violations and data farming as set out in our Terms of use.


These new records will be added to the BDA website during February 2015*: 


DatasetLocation and years coveredNumber of entries
73rd Regiment pay listsNSW/TAS/NI 1809-18171,480 soldiers +
Passengers arriving & departing SydneyNSW 1788-18258,300+
Convicts’ wives listingNSW 1822100+
Colonial Secretary’s in-letters indexNSW/TAS/NI 1788-1825160,000
Coroners’ inquests indexNSW1796-1824770+
Tickets of leave indexNSW 1810-184842,800
First Fleet 1788 listingNSW/TAS/NI 1788+1,449+
ABGR biographiesAll states 1788-c1920s7,000+
Convict pardonsNSW 1810-18191,500+
Convict indentsNSW 1831, 1833 7090+
Victoria and its MetropolisVIC 18887,000+
Cyclopedia of TasmaniaTAS 19001,526+
Cyclopedia of VictoriaVIC1903-052,232+
Australian Dictionary of DatesAll states 1542-18792,894+
Dictionary of Australasian BiographyAll states 1855-18921,572+
Windsor/Hawkesbury district ration booksNSW 1812-18181,400+
List of all clergy in Australia & NZAll states 18782,000+
Sydney Burial Ground: monumental inscriptions, licences to bury, reinterment registerNSW 1819-190110,000 burials +


* Numbers in this table followed by a + sign indicate that there are additional people mentioned in a person’s biographical item who have been cross indexed and hyperlinked; for example, 7,000 biographies in Victoria and its Metropolis mention a further 8,500 individuals.