Biographical Database of Australia

Tickets of Leave


Tickets of Leave Index 1810-1848

Tickets of Leave Index 1849-1875   *


* this item is not included in database as yet


History and Background

What this index contains

Difficulties encountered in compiling the index

Missing Tickets of Leave and Clerical Errors

Ships of Arrival

What you can find on a Ticket of Leave Butt

Other Sources for Ticket of Leave information




History and Background

The following extract act from Ticket of Leave Circular to the Magistrates dated 1830 (in J. A. Ferguson, Bibliography of Australia) explains the different forms of remission of sentence granted to convicts in the Colony of New South Wades and states that A Ticket of Leave is a permission to the individual to employ himself for his own benefit, and to acquire property, on condition of residing within the District therein specified. It also explains, in detail, the regulations and conditions under which the convicts qualified for Tickets of Leave

The earliest Tickets of Leave which survive appear in 1810. However it is evident that there was a Ticket of Leave system operating before this time. On the 10 February 1801 Governor King reported to the Duke of Portland (Historical Records of Australia (hereafter HRA) Series I, Volume III, p.48).

‘All prisoners whose terms of transportation is not expired and are off the stores, or those with settlers, are to attend at the Secretary’s Office in the morning, to receive their tickets of leave Those who hold former tickets to bring them in. Those who neglect to appear will be immediately called in to Government labour.’


On 1 July 1805 a Government and General Order stated that

‘Several of the prisoners under sentence of the law who have been indulged with permission to he off the store on tickets-of-leave having neglected to attend die muster of yesterday, are ordered to public labour, and to be sent to some other settlement’


As several prisoners who have been allowed to be taken off the stores by individuals are let out to hire and otherwise secreted; If such prisoners are not immediately given up by the person employing them, or secreting those who are no longer with the persons to whom they were originally assigned, such person will incur the penalties already ordered, and the prisoner consenting thereto will receive a severe corporal punishment’ (Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. V, p.655)

As early as 1795 there was a system similar to a Ticket of Leave operating. This is evident in Governor Hunter’s report to Portland dated 2 October 1795 (HRA, Series I, Vol. I, p.678):

‘As great evils have arisen from the frequent passing and repassing of many idle and disorderly persons between this place [Sydney] and the settlements to the westward of it, in order to cheek such a nuisance as much as possible, the constables and watchmen of the districts of Sydney, Parramatta, Toongabbe, the Hawkesbury are hereby directed to examine all male and female convicts and all suspicious persons whom they may find in either settlement not belonging thereto, and are authorized to confine them if not provided with a written pass, signed by the Judge-Advocate at Sydney, Lieut’t Macarthur at Parramatta, or officer commanding at the Hawkesbury; and as such passes will not be refused where there is sufficient reason for granting them, any person who is taken up for not having one will be punished.’


What this index contains

An alphabetical list of all known extant Tickets of Leave held in the Archives Office of New South Wales (AONSW) and issued to convicts between 1810 to 1875. It also includes Tickets issued to those who to committed colonial offences some of whom were free but most of whom were reoffenders (recidivists) who arrived in the colony as transported convicts from England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales or other colonies of England of countries where the British Army were serving.


The index also incorporates those Tickets of Leave which were issued between 1824-1827 (AONSW 4/4060) which have previously appeared on AONSW Fiche 752-754 in the Genealogical Research Kit. This index was a typescript compiled from the Register of Tickets of Leave 1824-1827 In order to be consistent with the later ticket numbers which show the year the ticket was issued followed by the number of the ticket for that year (e.g. 36/142) the early series of tickets have also been given numbers in this manner.


This system of numbering is confirmed by a note found at the end of AONSW 4/4063 which relates to Tickets of Leave in 1827 and which reads:

“NB Nos 1 to 37 inclusive issued during the year 1827, are registered in a former Book, extending from 29th July 1824 to 8th March 1827 and containing Nos 203/ 1227 to 37/2422.

 The 37 Tickets above alluded to as issued during this year, are numbered 1/2386 to 37/2422, in which series the upper number shews (sic) the Tickets issued during the year. the Lower number those since 3 December 1821, the commencement of the administration of Sir Thomas Brisbane.

 In the following series the tipper number stands for the year 1827, the lower for the number of’ the Tickets issued during that year.

 No money to be exacted on Original Tickets of Leave but upon duplicates, per Colonial Secretary’s letter 23/213, 21 March 1829 vide Gazette No.1634 19 March 1829.”


Thus for example John AHERN who arrived on the Batavia 1818 appears on this new index as having two tickets one 24/295 and the other as 25/449. The first ticket appears on fiche 753 as 295/ 1229 and was issued on 29 July 1 324. The other appears on fiche 754 as 449/ 1923 issued on 4 October 1825.


The majority of the more than 47,000 entries in this index are from the Ticket of Leave Butts, 31 March 1827 31 December 1875 (4/4063-4/4226, 4/4234). Each butt can provide the following information: prisoner’s number, name, ship and year of arrival, master of ship, native place, trade or calling, offence, place and date of trial, sentence, year of birth, physical description, the district to which the prisoner is allocated, the Bench of Magistrates which recommended him and the date of issue of the Ticket. There are also notes of change of district, Conditional Pardon numbers and various other annotations on these Tickets of Leave.


NOTE that most of the letters whose numbers are noted in the margins on the Ticket of Leave Butts relate to the series of letters which were from the Principal Superintendent of Convicts. In general this series of letters have not survived although occasionally one is found in the general series of Colonial Secretary’s Letters Received (CSLR).


NOTE that although there are over 47,000 names in this index there are some multiple entries. That is for a variety of reasons some convicts received more than one Ticket of Leave. The principal reasons were reoffending or losing a ticket. Approximately 160,000 men and women were transported to Australia and it is important to remember that not all received Tickets of Leave and that this index only covers the area New South Wales as it was at particular times during the period 1810-1875. That is there are Tickets of Leave issued for Port Phillip and Moreton Bay because there were part of the Colony of New South Wales at the time.


Difficulties encountered in compiling the index

Where a name was difficult to read on the Ticket of Leave Butt, it was checked back to the Convict indent of the ship on which the convict arrived. Where practical any aliases or notations of husbands or wives were added to the index. If the convict was not found on the ship indicated on the Ticket of Leave then a question mark (?) was placed after the name of the convict.


Missing Tickets of Leave and Clerical Errors

Occasionally the clerk made a mistake when issuing the Tickets of Leave and a number was missed. For example there are no Tickets of Leave numbered 35/153, 35/256, 36/2000 or 37/860. Other clerical errors occasionally occur. For example 35/135 is actually numbered 35/153 but it has been indexed as 35/135 because that is what it should have been and it appears in that sequence.


Ticket 38/1391 is actually written as 38/1291 and 38/1399 is written as 38/1299 but they are indexed as they should appear thus as 38/1391 & 38/1399.


Michael Lloyde (Loyde)’s Ticket follows 45/1562 but is actually numbered 45/1502. It has been indexed as 45/1502 and appears on Reel 959 in 4/4202 but will be found after 45/ 1562.


There are several instances of a Ticket of Leave butt being missed in the filming so if a number and reference is found on the index hut does not appear on the relevant microfilm a request should be made to the Archives Office of New South Wales to check the originals.

Most of these were noted and are:

36/879     37/1122     37/1252     37/1760     38/70

38/310     38/1407     41/1497     41/1787     41/2227

40/1126     42/2528     32/994     45/1343


The early series on Reels 601 (COD 18) and 890 will need patience to search as they are often difficult to use. If searching in AONSW it is easier to search COD 18 (Copy of Document).


Ships of Arrival

Most of the ships on this index are convict ships. Where it was definitely known that a ship indicated on the Ticket of Leave Butt showed an incorrect year this was amended. Some ships made voyages every year or every second year over a considerable period Where it was not practicable to check the arrival of an individual the Ship and year were left as on the Ticket of Leave. Thus if a ship arrived in 1835, 1837 and 1839 it may often be shown as one of the years between. If no date was indicated and could not easily he established “nd” appears after the name of the ship. Where a ship arrived twice in one year (e.g. Atlas in 1802 and Regia in 1838) no attempt has been made to check on which voyage the particular convict arrived.


What you can find on a Ticket of Leave Butt

Other than the standard information on a convict which can he supplemented by looking at the Convict indent for the ship of arrival, additional information can he obtained from the Tickets of Leave. This can include the reason for the granting of the Ticket which sometimes involved assisting setting up new settlements for example John Hughes (TL 34/ 28). Anthony Joseph (TL 34/336), William Shean (TL 34/909) and George Waighman (TL 33/442) were at Port Macquarie and William Nexson (TL 34/8) was at Melville Island.


Spikeman (TL 31/700) obtained his Ticket of Leave on the special recommendation of the Missionary Society where he worked and Thomas Lewis Styles (TL 44/2975) requested his Certificate of Freedom because he thought his colonial sentence was illegal. With Styles Ticket of Leave is his colonial history.

Sometimes a Ticket of Leave was cancelled and the reason written on the Ticket. The main reason for the cancellation was usually that the Ticket of Leave was lost or mutilated and a new one was needed. At times the reasons can be most revealing For example John Grover (TL 31/721) arrived on the Anne in 1810 and in 1831 his Ticket of Leave was ‘cancelled by Penrith Bench for repeated acts of misconduct and particularly in supplying spirits to persons in his charge and allowing a woman sentenced to solitary confinement to remain in his own apartments.’ Robert Mallett was granted his Ticket of Leave (TL 32/999) from the Maitland bench for supplying ‘information which led to the capture of parties who plundered the house of his master’ while Thomas Bentley (TL 37/680) was ‘killed by Blacks with Faithful’s Party while conducting stock across to Port Phillip.’


Sometimes the Tickets are annotated with other interesting information. For example Samuel Hall (TL 34/146) was under a colonial sentence when he died on Norfolk Island; William Lewis (TL 34/925) had a Ticket of Leave ‘granted for assisting in the capture of the native black George Murphy’; Jacob Wagner (TI 34/667) had his Ticket cancelled for ‘outrageous conduct’, Thomas McGrady (TL 34/1542)’s Ticket shows he was only 12 when convicted at Carrickfergus [County Antrim, Ireland] in 1830; John Austin (TL 34/884) had his Ticket cancelled for a month because he was found in a public house on a Sunday during divine service and William Henry Jefferies (TL 35/99) received his Ticket for his involvement in the capture of two bushrangers, John Welsh per Mangles and William Boyne per Ann & Amelia.


Convicts who reoffended sometimes have their full colonial history cited either on or with the Ticket of Leave. For example see the following for Mary Neville per Roslin Castle 1836 (4/4168 AONSW Reel 946). This document appears between Ticket of Leave 42/2734 and 42/2735) which lists her offences from the first of June 1838. when she spent two months in the third class section of the female factory tor disorderly conduct as a result of appearing before the Sydney Bench. She continued to offend and on 24 November 1840 she appeared before the Bench in Maitland and was ordered to spend 14 days in the cells for drunk and disorderly conduct. A total of 12 offences are shown here between June 1838 and November 1840.


Other Sources for Ticket of Leave information

Many applications for Tickets of Leave appear in the letters received by the Colonial Secretary (CSLR). The earliest Tickets of Leave appear on 4/4427 AONSW Reel 60 1 and are also copied on COD 18) and cover the period from 2 July 1810 to 3 October 1814. Because of the difficulty in finding this material a page number has also been included in this index. For example, Richard ADAMS who arrived on the Indian 1810 was issued with Ticket of Leave number 14/3 and this Ticket can be found on AONSW Reel 601, 4/4427, p.420.


Applications for Tickets of Leave, cancellations of Tickets of Leave and other mentions of Ticket of Leave holders may be found in the Colonial Secretary’s Letters at the Archives Office of New South Wales and also in The Sydney Gazette or the New South Wales Government Gazette (see following for some examples).



This Index to the Tickets of Leave began as a project of the late Norma Tuck. She had completed indexing 4/4135 to 4/4186, a total of 13,674 entries when she died in 1990. The fulfilment of Norma’s dream could not have occurred without the diligent work she put in to the commencement of the project. Joan Reese and Perry McIntyre began work to complete Norma’s project at the end of 1991. The late Joan Reese returned to her own indexing project on Convict bundles in the Colonial Secretary’s Papers but continued to give advice and support until her death, Perry McIntyre completed the project.


None of it could have been undertaken without the permission and assistance of the Archives Office of New South Wales and the staff in the Reading Room at Globe Street. Finally without Mr Brian Bell from Glenbrook to give all the computer advice and be ever present to avert computer disasters this project would still he in its infancy.



Kath. Stew Forbes = Katherine Stewart Forbes 18 February 1830

Mt. Stew. Elphingstone = Mount Stewart Elphingstone 3 October 1849

us = uxor = wife of

nd = no date indicated

Nr = no record given

COD = Copy of Document


Some of the ships with names which vary have been standardised.

For or example the Lord Lyndoch rather than Lord Lyndock

Roslin Castle rather than Roslyn Castle

Surry rather than Surrey

General Stewart rather than General Stuart.



Information Pages written by Dr Perry McIntyre. BDA thanks her for allowing her dataset to be added to the Database.


The text on this page is copyright. Permission to reproduce it should be obtained from BDA.