Biographical Database of Australia

Biographical Database of Australia – 2nd release: 20 new Datasets, 400,000 new records

23 February 2015


Biographical Database of Australia (BDA) has almost doubled in size with its first big update, adding 400,000 records – now online.


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 BDA, made up of biographical profiles of deceased persons born in Australia or who arrived as convicts or immigrants, a unique resource for historians and genealogists.  


BDA was launched on 8 September 2013 with the release of an online Database of colonial Australians containing 500,000 records comprising transcripts of convict, shipping, census, muster, birth, marriage, death and other records.  


Twenty new datasets (listed below) containing 400,000 additional entries from all states, transcribed by a team of volunteers and BDA staff from manuscript and published biographical sources are now online, bringing the total of online records to 900,000.


The newly added records 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 1,440+ people embarked on the First Fleet in 1787.


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 5,000 transcribed epitaphs and licences to bury for the former Sydney Burial Ground in Devonshire Street, Sydney (1819-1888) as well as details of burials and family members who paid for removal of remains and memorials when the cemetery was dismantled in 1901.


For this new release thousands of burial records have been linked to census, muster, shipping and convict records.


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 still just $30. Click here to subscribe/renew to explore nearly 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 are now 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.


Please tell others about the BDA website:


Is your ancestor on BDA? Did we get the links right? We want to hear from you. Contact us.


The Database will be updated at regular intervals and the large number of unlinked records will be progressively linked individuals’ Biographical Profiles. Suggestions for links and corrections submitted by descendants and interested researchers are welcome. Click here to contact us.


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


New Datasets added to BDA in February 2015

Convict ticket of Leave Index 1810-1848NSW
73rd Regiment Pay Lists & Casualty Rolls 1810-1816NSW/TAS/NI
Colonial Secretary’s Papers Index 1788-1825NSW/TAS/NI
First Fleet Appendix 10 from Founders of Australia, pub. 1989
(full list of First Fleeters updated by Michael Flynn)
ABGR S1 - Full text biogs + full index 1788-1841All states
ABGR S2 - Full text biogs + full index 1842-1899All states
ABGR - BDFs Index - 1788-1930sAll states
Australian Dictionary of Dates 1542-1879 (Heaton)All states
Clergy List 1878 (Heaton)All states + NZ, all religions
Cyclopedia of Victoria 1903Vic
Cyclopedia of Tasmania 1900Tas
Dictionary of Australasian Biography 1892 (Mennell)All states
Victoria and its Metropolis pub. 1888Vic
Coroners Inquests NSW 1796-1824NSW
Convicts’ wives applying to join husbands 1822NSW
Windsor NSW Ration Book 1812-1818Hawkesbury District NSW
Convict Pardons 1810-1819NSW
Convict Indents 1831 & 1833 (1829, 1832 coming soon)NSW
Passengers Arriving & Departing Sydney 1788-1826NSW
Sydney Burial Ground 1819-1901 (Elizabeth & Devonshire Streets)
- Monumental Inscriptions (2,825) transcribed at Bunnerong in 1969
- Licences to Bury (2,060) issued 1866-1888 naming applicants, deceased, and plot owners
- Re-interment Register compiled in 1901 naming deceased and applicants claiming their remains