Friday, October 03, 2008

Do you have a Ticket to leave?

When I first saw the phrase "Ticket to Leave" it made me think of the Beatles song "Ticket to Ride". The only similarity that the two phrases have is the word Ticket. A ticket by definition is a slip of paper that allows one admission or entitlement to a service. So you may be wondering what a Ticket has to do with genealogical research. Could it be a ticket for boarding a ship to emigrate?

A "Ticket of Leave" was a document given to convicts in Australia to work and live in a given area of the colony prior to their sentence was completed or if they were pardoned. Those convicts that were given a "ticket of leave" (TOL) could own property and be self-employed, but they were required to attend church and appear before the judge when it was required. As previously discussed in an earlier post regarding convicts to the Fremantle Prison, the convicts were expected to work off their sentences. Ticket of Leave male convicts were allowed to marry or to bring their families over from England. The Ticket of Leave provides the genealogist with valuable information including birth year, previous occupation, their native country, year and place the person was tried and convicted, and also information regarding the transportation ship they were on to Australia. Another piece of information which is included on the document is a physical description of the person convicted.

This Ticket of Leave information was discovered on a website called Convicts to Australia - A Guide to Researching your Convict Ancestors. This website allows you to search the name of the ship, convict, pensioner guards, convict tales and also by the woman's name. The easiest way to these databases is through the link on the top that is titled "Search These Lists Online". Once you click on the the Convict Ships to Australia link you will need to look to the left of the page that loads to broswe the names of the ship. The other databases have a drop down list for the ships located on the upper right hand side of the page to assist in browsing. All of the links provide a search box on the upper right hand of each page where you can type in your search terms.

Now if you do not have a convict in your family tree, don't feel left out. The "Convicts to Australia" website will allow you create your own personal convict under the link "Claytons Convicts". This just for fun, but it will even create a fun story to go along with the name you choose. Another great feature of the site is the Convict tales. This link provides a brief biography of various individuals. Please note that not all of the convicts in the databases are included in the Convict Tales section. The biographies that are presently at the site are ones that have been contributed by researchers to the site.

If you would like to learn more about Convicts to Australia or the Guards, click Convicts to Australia. Have fun!
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