WA Convict Probation Records 1850-1868

This set comprises the records of 215 London convicts granted probation or a 'Ticket-of-Leave under the Western Australia convict establishment in the The Australian Colonies, 1787-1901. The "Probation Registers" record the original crime, trial and sentence details for those transported, as well as ship of transport. Registers also contain a range of personal information, including name, age at conviction, marital status, number of children, and occupation. Additionally there is often information on labour, location, conduct and discharge whilst under sentence.

Origins and Content

A "Ticket of Leave" was granted to most Western Australia (WA) convicts around half way through their sentence, giving them the right to undertake employment within an assigned district. However, for a small number of convicts who either had their licences revoked, or were reconvicted while on a "Ticket", they would be required to spend additional time in the Convict Establishment before being released again. There were also those who were released earlier than the date at which they would have been entitled to receive a "Ticket". Each of these individuals had their details recorded in the "Probation Registers".

Relationship to Other Sources

The probation records are most likely to link to other records from the Western Australia convict establishment, namely the WA Character Books and General Registers 1850-1868. The high level of overlap between the fields recorded in these collections means identifying individuals in each dataset is relatively straightforward. In particular, the General Registers for Western Australian convicts follow on from the probation registers, providing information on the labour and regulatory infractions of convicts after they were granted a Ticket of Leave.

The registers link to the British Transportation Registers 1787-1867. Those tried at the Central Criminal Court will also link to records from the Old Bailey Proceedings 1740-1913.

Strengths and Limitations

As with each of the Western Australian collections, the "Probation Register" offer the opportunity to learn about a convict’s time under sentence. The probation records in most instances give date and location for where convicts worked whilst under sentence, and provides information about conduct and offences under sentence, and eventual date of discharge from the convict establishment. Along with the Western Australia Character Books and Western Australia General Registers the probation records are the closest comparator to the VDL Founders and Survivors Convicts 1802-1853 data for Tasmania.

The Probation Registers are, however, inconsistent. Some entries have far more detail than others, and not every field is available for every entry. The Registers can also lack depth of information about labour, offences, and experiences under the Convict Establishment.

Original Source and Digitisation

The Probation Records for Western Australian Convicts are held on microfilm at the State Records Office of Western Australia in Perth. They are available to access free of charge.

The original records were photographed and subsequently transcribed by Lucy Williams of the "Digital Panopticon" project.

Further Information

Author Credits

This page was written by Lucy Williams, with additional contributions by other members of the Digital Panopticon project team.