Using Find My Past for Aussie and NZ research

As a lot of Aussie and NZ research relates to our ancestors from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, a great database to use is Find My Past. But there are also lots of Aussie/NZ records on the database.

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What Australian and NZ records have you found helpful on Find My Past?

Reasons why I like the site, + ways in which it’s better than the opposition: bit.ly/2Hxp1Ad. I’ve had a subscription for over 10yrs & I use it constantly.

Ooh so many records to choose from. I probably have found the electoral rolls the most useful (our Census substitute) but there are lots of others e.g. school records and railway records. Check out QFHS datasets on FMP here findmypast.com.au/content/about-…

Being busy at work my FMP membership lapsed so have to use library versions when I need it. Checked my saved images and winners are AUS and NZ results are passenger records.

When using FMP I found it useful to help locate NZ BDM information or Electoral Rolls. From what I remember they have a large variety of the less usual databases / lists so a check of the catalogue confirmed this. Thinking I better join up again.

Haven’t used @findmypast very much but now I have dad’s family there from early 20th century, I will certainly look at their records more carefully.

I have found FMP invaluable for both Australian and NZ research – Birth, death, marriage, Qld Schools, NSW Govt Gazettes, Wills, Military Records, Convicts, Pioneer records and more.

I’ve had a FMP subscription for ages but haven’t used it as much as I could have until recently. I’ve found a huge amount of information there. Electoral rolls and QFHS records

I have tended to use FMP more for English research until recently Jennifer but I have been exploring the Australia/ NZ records more recently. Having a tree on FMP helps and hints are fairly accurate

Sometimes a bit freaky when you get an email saying ” we know you were searching for Mr X, you might be interested in this” LOL

It just means that the records come to you so to speak via hints which I find more accurate than on other sites

I get those all the time after I have found a record on the 1881 Census, usually one of the other Census records. Their cookies must be rather good.

I haven’t yet had a sub to FindMyPast. I use it mainly for the 1881 Census (which is free) for my @WikiTreers profiles. Once I finish my projects, I plan to take a sub for a time to see what I find.

I have been a bit more focused on UK records on FMP lately but am interested to hear what others have found useful for Aus and NZ

The birth, marriage and death indexes are great, plus the electoral rolls and military records – these are my go-to record sets. The sheep returns are another fab resource, and @findmypast has a few more than Ancestry. Pays to check who has what.

I haven’t seen the sheep returns Maggie but with quite a few sheep farmers in NZ in the past (South Island) I will now have a look

For NZ records I use BDM Online, Ancestry for Electoral Rolls, Wilson Collection, Papers Past, Archway, etc. I don’t know what they have that I can’t access elsewhere.

I spent all weekend diving into FMP They have many more records than I realised and some more unusual records. I found lots of information I hadn’t previously come across

Queensland Licences, Qld Land Records and Qld Early Pioneers has been really helpful for my Qld research

I’ve just discovered a Queenslander in the family. He bought up many pastoral leases so I’ve been looking into FMP land records. So much info there

I sometimes find if you cannot find something another site might help. Especially when indexing/ transcription errors have occurred. With electoral rolls different sites index different dates and other years are image view only so multiple sites can help.

I just dial up the Electoral Rolls and go looking. Amazing who I find. I am looking at the originals, so no transcription errors.

There’s a few niche record sets there, good to have a look through.

FMP has 340 AUS and NZ record sets. findmypast.com.au/search/histori…

I have found the Queensland school pupil indexes really helpful in tracing families that moved around

I discovered my grandparents knew each other as young children through Qld school records

Cemetery transcriptions on FMP are a bonus!

More SA records on FMP than the others, in particular I like the search for the electoral rolls and SA Govt Gazettes, also has emigrants applying for free passage to SA not available elsewhere

I’ve found convict/prisoner records on FMP helpful. It’s always good to remember that convict admin made multiple copies of prison, court, shipping records. Look at them all. There are slight differences ie more information.

I think the first time I used FMP I found the 1928 passenger list for my grandmother’s migration to Australia.

I discovered NZ jury records on FMP this weekend past. I found the NZ Women’s Suffrage records fascinating.

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Do you have a family tree on Find My Past? Are the hints useful and accurate?

Helen Smith has written a great article on using @findmypast for Australian research: findmypast.com.au/blog/family-re…

No I don’t. I mainly use it for searching

Yes but only a teeny weeny one. Because it is so tiny and the info so thin there aren’t many hints. I need to work on this area. Sigh. So many trees to maintain…..

That is the problem isn’t it Alex. I tend to update more my Ancestry tree then if it gets much larger than the FMP tree and I don’t have time to tend to those and family Tree Maker

No, too much else on my to-do list which I want to finish this year (not only genealogy). Then I hope to do so

I have a tree on FMP and so far the hints I get are really accurate. I like how they put the % of accuracy and you can start with those that are most accurate.

Not really, but I accessed FMP for free thru my local library for last 18 months (thanks covid) & find the search results much easier to scan than Ancestry. Miss it. Time to take out my own sub

Yes I have an old tree. Never had problems with the hints that I can remember although I try to focus on what I am researching and often leave hints.

I have several trees on Findmypast. This weekend I uploaded my Living DNA results to FMP as well

I have found the hints on Findmypast to be far more accurate than on other sites. But a tedious process saving them

Yes, I have 2 trees on FMP. Generally the hints are fairly accurate (not always) except in the case of hints from other people’s tree which can be ‘hit and miss’

I have a couple of family trees on Findmypast – at the moment they’re mostly for fishing on brickwalls, and the hints have generally pretty good. I need to build the trees up more to take better advantage.

Passing on to our England & Wales Interest Group that are talking about the 1921 Census tomorrow. With regard charges of £2.50 for every record transcript and £3.50 for every original record image. Does this mean if you want both it is £6?

Feeling a right geneabunny at the moment. I uploaded a tree to FMP in March of this year and completely forgot about it. Just looked and there are hints and hints and hints

I have just realised you can filter your hints so you only get census or BDM – makes it easier to add to just one person

I find it time-consuming to go through them, but occasionally there are hidden gems! I don’t mind them, just ignore till I have time to review them

I have family trees on FMP – I like the idea of fishing in all ponds and hence FMP is not necessarily as my starting point but it is an essential element and I like all the record sets on FMP – I’ve been learning about Scottish records in particular this year

Fishing in all the ponds is a good idea. I think that’s why I added my tree to FMP. Just don’t know why I completely forgot about it,

I like searching across as many sites as possible when I can’t find someone. Found my 3x ggrandfather in 1841 census on FamilySearch, not on the other sites.

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Which other countries on FMP are especially useful when researching? Why? What is unique to FMP?

Tbh my research is very UK focussed so I’d probably use English and Welsh records the most. Census and bdm records would be my focus. I think the 1939 Register is unique to FMP yes?

They had it first, but now available on Ancestry as well. FMP have the address search which is very useful.

I have found FMP very useful for most of my ancestors as many come from Essex, London and Cornwall. From memory Census and BDM for these areas are good.

Ireland is my other country apart from Australia. Occasionally England and I like the digitised newspapers.

Thinking that the British Newspaper collection means I do need to rejoin. I never seem to have time to get to the library.

I LOVE the English records on Findmypast. They are wonderful. Image quality for census records is superior too in my opinion and fewer transcription errors

Over the last few months I have been all over those Catholic registers – Diocese of Southwark, and Scotland. Such a huge help in tackling some brickwalls, absolutely love love love them!

Plus great for Irish records, and the British newspaper collection.

I have also used the 1939 register to trace descendants from common ancestors in England to sort out DNA matches. That has been most useful.

I find 1939 useful for this purpose also. Having a household, even if they are hidden does help.

I use for English #FamilyHistory research a lot. Sometimes for US records too but limited compared to Ancestry

I think the other records on FMP would be more useful so the newspapers is a bonus. I just worry I am missing out on learning about their lives by sticking to BDM, dry facts and dates.

The 1939 Register on FMP has my g uncle listed as Rex Hoyes correctly while Ancestry has him transcribed as Rose Hayes. transcription is important for finding things

One of my best Irish newspaper finds was the death notice for my GGG grandfather Robert Fagan. It also said American papers please copy. Explains some of those DNA matches

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What functionality on the Findmypast website have you found helpful when researching? What would be on your wishlist for the future?

I like the advanced searching where you can list another person’s name in the census. Useful for common name families.

hmmm I suspect it is easier to do a broader search on census documents on FMP rather than Ancestry i.e. I think you can search by address rather than just name but I may be barking up the wrong tree here.

I seem to remember that when you searched I documents you had already reviewed were marked. It saves rechecking the same record. If this is not available then it is the improvement I would like to see. Icons for downloaded and attached to a person.

I have FMP open and there are features I haven’t used or didn’t know were there. I tend to be focused on searching and have not been using FMP as effectively as I could. #ANZAncestryTime More on the to do list!

I think that because we have used the archives and local FHS here in Australia we tend to forget about online records Shauna

I love the address search on the censuses and the 1939 register. Also that every search field is optional – was great to search on just occupation when I was looking for a missing jeweller!

For house history research the address search on the censuses is invaluable #ANZAncestryTime (taking into consideration that street numbers can change)

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Great comments:

Worth signing up to Findmypast’s newsletter – they always publish new or updated record sets on Fridays. Sometimes there’ll be nothing applicable to your family research, but sometimes there is!

I find these types of updates useful for my society FB posts. It means I can quickly see new AUS or NZ records.

Thanks for this great discussion about FMP tonight. I’ve learnt lots and am looking forward to trying out all your hints and tips into action

Readers: Have you used FindMyPast for your Aussie or New Zealand research? Did you find something unusual?

 

Tracing convicts

This was a twitterchat where I knew lots of info for those starting to research a convict in their family.

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Do you have convict ancestors? Share their names, places of origin, when and where they arrived and what their crimes and sentences were.

Maternal: John England Yorkshire, Rebecca Jackson County Donegal, Francis Colgrave Bedfordshire, Isabella Watkins Yorkshire, John Holliday Boyd Cornwall/Devon, Martha Hearn/Virco London

Paternal: William Dawson and Catherine McKay – from Scotland mentioned in our Scottish chat, Matthew Sutton London and Mary McCrewney Newry Parish, Down Ireland, possibly Patrick Somers Wexford Co

James Kirk (1794-1877), Bucks. Convicted Feb 1832 – stole a sheep from Thomas Whitworth, Mursley, Bucks, value 45 shillings. Death, commuted to transportation (life). Arrived Sydney Cove, NSW, on ‘Camden’. Assigned as farm servant to James Arndell of Woodlands

I forgot – my g g g grandfather aged 14 years got death commuted to 14 years for stealing clothes. His brother earlier had received 7 years for stealing rope!

Somewhere between eight and ten: first was John Ryan, stole a hat in London, arrived 1788; last was Charles Millson, ‘Swing Rioter’ in Stanford Dingley, Berkshire, arrived 1831

The Swing Rioter Convicts and other Political Convicts like the Irish Rebels have very interesting stories

I’ve been reading a paper about the Swing Rioters & marriage in the colony. Interesting.

John Madden, sedition, County Galway 1820 arrived on the Dorothy, conditional pardon in mid 1830’s wife & 2 sons joined him in 1838, a daughter died on the way

Patrick Joyce, Yorkshire (but Irish), 7yrs stealing cheese,1835 Isaac Holmes, London, 7yrs for stealing pants, 1819 Robert Riches, Norfolk, stealing 6 geese 9 ducks, 1822 Joseph Collidge, Leicestershire, life 4 rape 1844 (convicts weren’t always petty crims)

now for my husband’s 10 Convicts Francis Byrne Mary Pardoe Thomas Crumpton Mary Johnson Terence O’Brian Mary Doyle Thomas Bates Francis Mills Henry Oliver Margaret Sheldon from Ireland and England

my husband has convicts in his family. His ggrandfather was sent to Tasmania. I’m not sure about his ggrandmother, but she may have too. He changed the surname, and they came to New Zealand. Another descendant is writing a book about them

Sometimes the most upstanding people in the community turned out to be convicts. My husband’s g g grandfather was the first mayor of Shoalharbour Council and no one knew he arrived as a convict

I’m afraid mine turned to drink as many did (said she sipping a wine). Samuel was famous for riding through the town roaring drunk looking for Margaret in the tavern. With no sewerage or running water in the home and 8 kids who can blame her?

there were a few name changes in the convicts of my family and my husband’s family

yes I have – they’re all in my various blogs plus the First Fleeters – Small Parker lines had a book issued in 1988 and there is lots of information available via Fellowship of First Fleeters website

Jonathan Harris (1800-1891) from East Sussex, England. Convicted in Sussex, 1825. Crime of burglary of a dwelling house. Received the death sentence, later commuted to transportation for life.

My 4X great grandparents George Lowe and Hanorah Ahern were both convicts. They were both convicted for stealing in Ireland but met in Hobart Tasmania

An aunt was transported in the ship George Hibbert in 1834 for 14 years for reset of theft. Husband received a same sentence. Originally from Ireland she was living in Glasgow. Had a child with her on the ship. (See post by Paula below)

13 convict ancestors for me and 10 for my husband – makes 23 for our daughter – I have to check the list of names to keep track of them all

John Small Mary Parker James Bradley Sarah Barnes Richard Hicks Margaret Howe Ann Daly Thomas Brain Thomas Callcott Samuel Weatherstone Charles Watson Waters Jean MacDonald Thomas Power – that’s my own 13 – the first 3 of whom were transported on First Fleet

Most of my 13 convicts were from Southern England, Ann Daly from Dublin Ireland Thomas Power from Waterford Ireland Jean MacDonald from Paisley Scotland

my parents did all our convict research years ago but when I did the UTAS course I had to do it again and am glad I did. More records/info available now and I’m more mature have more life experience and can imagine more what it was like.

No. My direct line brought themselves to either New Zealand or Australia. BUT I have a recently discovered convict that might be a missing family member. Family name, right age, but how to prove it.

Yes! I have at least two and possibly more. Samuel Taylor (convict) married Margaret Jones (convict) 3 April 1832. Samuel was from England and Margaret from Wales. Both were convicted for larceny for 7 years. Both died in Yass, NSW.

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What do you enjoy about convict research? Which resources and records have you found helpful for convict research?

General records

A post Sue wrote when doing the convict courses at UTAS as part of the family history diploma. Includes links to pre transportation, surgeon reports as well as links found upon arrival in Australia

There are many places to find information on convicts including the British Newspaper Archive, Trove newspapers and the Digital Panopticon.

New South Wales and Australia in general

New South Wales Archives has a research guide and index to convict records they hold.

Lesley Uebel began the Claim a Convict website before her death in 2014. Does include Tasmanian convicts as well.

Peter Mayberry has links to many Irish convicts arriving in New South Wales.

Begun by Steve Thomas, this website called Convict Records includes 88% of convicts transported to Australia.

Parramatta female factory – Parragirls, searchable database of the female factory online

Jen Willetts website about Free Settler or Felon – lots of interesting information about the Hunter Valley, Newcastle and Central Coast

Tasmania or Van Diemens Land


When the convicts were out working on roads etc they had to build their own little sort of town or village – barracks bakery commandant house etc Ians book list them all with descriptions

Fantastic resources for searching in Tasmania particularly the Tasmanian Names Index with their conduct, indent, description and muster records. Just put convict name in the search bar.

As well as the Tasmanian Names Index there is a convict portal with other links available both online and offline

One of the best things I learned at UTAS Family History Diploma. So glad we were taught how to read the conduct records. And the indents! Family information. Invaluable

Hamish Maxwell-Stewart spoke at the NSWFHA Conference last month and the kind of data analysis they are doing now with the convict records is fascinating. Really exciting stuff. Correlating things like solitary and punishment with life expectancy.

The Female Convict Research Centre has lots of info on their website about female convicts, the institutions, the ships, magistrates etc so check everything out on their website

If children arrived with convicts they were often put in the orphan school in Hobart so check records there.

Moreton Bay

Our own dear Jennifer Harrison published this book recently. mobshop.com.au/products/0af7b…

Scottish convicts

Anyone looking for #Scottish convicts may find this helpful: ‘Using Scottish High Court Records for Scottish Genealogy’ youtu.be/pbLj6ooJylw

I have one other, my 2xg uncle. My Scottish cousin has researched him very thoroughly. He was meant to be transported, but wasn’t. wikitree.com/wiki/McLean-69…

Hi @MargLBailey, we have come across this a few times now. @findmypast has some great prison records for England & Wales, they often show Scottish convicts who were sentenced to transportation but never left Britain.

Irish convicts

Useful for Irish convicts: nationalarchives.ie/article/penal-… findingaids.nationalarchives.ie/index.php?cate…

Some of the convict records accessible from Ancestry

NSW, Convict Indent records, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930, Tickets of Leave – All State Archives NSW

Home Office: Convict Transportation Registers; Home Office: Convict Prison Hulks: Registers and Letter Books, 1802-1849; Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania – All National Archives, Kew

Mr Cassmob’s Tasmanian convict moved to Melbourne after he’d served his sentence. We found the story of his crime in Irish Newspapers before they were online.

As I’m in Scotland I was able to see the original court documents from 1833 which are held in Edinburgh. Fascinating reading and the story was not what I’d expected. Some great info in Australian newspapers too.

I’ve actually lost count of the number of direct ancestors I have who were convicts. Most in VDL where the records are extremely rich and detailed or at least for most. Some were boring but the black sheep are absolutely fascinating

@scottishindexes did great research on my Scottish convict Jean MacDonald of Paisley – absolutely no way I could have unearthed all that information from down here in Australia

I enjoy constructing a life. Early days & family-BDMs, census, etc Crime-newspapers, court recs Transport-ship journals, indents Convict life-musters, colonial sec recs After-Aussie BDM, parish recs

I enjoy knowing the truth. I’m mainly using Ancestry.com, different Australian archives, as well as other websites (e.g. blogs). I’m fortunate to have been in touch with some distant cousins who had already done a lot of research on that line.

I haven’t researched my convict ancestors yet. The information I have was given to me by another family researcher, but I need to confirm it before accepting it as fact. This is on the ‘to do’ list.

Convict lives were so well recorded. Descriptions of them and so many records. That is what makes it interesting for me. And that one of mine left a diary

I have really enjoyed convict research since I studied it at UTAS. I was able to drill down much deeper into their lives with newspapers accounts of their crimes and lives. I would love to have found some prison or hulk records though.

I love reading the conduct records here in Tasmania but also if I can find the newspaper report back in UK, they can be very interesting too.

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What challenges have you found when researching convict lives? (including after they became free) Is it different researching female and male convict lives?

My 2 x ggrandmother’s Scottish trial notes a child, her indent says 1 girl but thats it … I have seen mention, when freed and married to a freed Irish convict they wrote to the Colonial Sec NSW to bring “his” child from Scotland but no record of success.

Still trying to work out what happened to my ggf’s brother Christopher Rooney. Arrived Sydney 1833. In Parramatta gaol sentenced to iron gang for 12 months the following year then COMPLETELY DISAPPEARS FROM THE RECORD! Unfortunately I’ve found no mentions in newspapers runaway lists gaol records or bdms. No T/L or pardon (he was a lifer so no Cert freedom either) can’t find a Certain Freedom for his sister either although there’s plenty of other evidence for her later life

I can’t find any info on the child ancestor had with her on the ship. Don’t know what happened after she was freed and would like to know if she and husband convicted of same offence ever saw each other again.

The convicts were were well recorded but not their children always  Often the shipping record just says ‘child with her’

I’ve found birth records for 3 children in Glasgow and don’t know what happened to any of them. Only one was on the ship.

Biggest convict challenge for me has been Charles Watson Waters husband of convict Jean MacDonald – my theory is he changed his name from Watson to Waters – also not so many records for convicts in later years

I thought my g g g grandfather was an Irish LAWYER. I was quite proud as he arrived in 1836. The years later I realised the record said SAWYER and it dawned on me…. he was a convict. The wrong side of the LAW

The first challenge was that none of us realised my great grandmother used her middle name as her first name. Once we were convinced of that we could verify the line back to the male convict. I don’t think I have any female convicts in my direct line.

I think the biggest challenge is first proving that the person you suspect is a convict is the right person (as in my Mary Kelly) and then the although they are well recorded as convicts they often disappear when freed

my female convict ancestor is less likely to be in a newspaper although she died after her husband so actually got to leave a will. It was very boring reading. I am disappointed that I am not able to pinpoint her place of origin more accurately.

Still trying to find if my Rebecca Jackson’s father and brother actually got transported to Australia as they stopped shipping for a few years from Ireland just after they were convicted in 1847

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Share any interesting stories you have uncovered about your convict ancestors.

When James Kirk was transported, his wife, Elizabeth, and 5 children (aged between 1 1/2 and 12 years old) were left behind. Elizabeth and the youngest child died within 2 years of James leaving England, in effect rendering the remaining 4 children orphans.

Sad story. The young wife of my convict ancestor finally got to Australia to be with her husband then was killed in a horse and cart accident. Their baby was thrown but survived.

In 2019 my husband and I visited the Boxley Inn in Kent where his ancestor had been drinking before he was arrested and sent to Australia. They gave us a tour of the pub when we told them and a meal

If you stand on the corner of Gresham and Basinghall Streets, London, where my earliest ancestor was arrested, and look west, you can see where the second (his future wife) and fifth were arrested

contacted by a guy on Facebook- asking if I was descended from convict Samuel Weatherstone. I said yes – thinking – another cousin. No – he was descended from the person who Samuel robbed. He then adopted Samuel as his and now we call ourselves outlaw cousins

I found the story of my female ancestor’s crime quite disturbing. Pickpocketing sounds quite petty but in fact she was part of a gang and worked together with another woman to lure the gentleman towards other members of the gang. He was robbed extensively.

I have a female ancestors she was transported for “man robbing”. Also appeared to be working in tandem with another girl

I found about 40 ancestry trees referencing my convict ancestor & not one had any sources but finally I stumbled on Ray’s website which had an impeccably sourced story & finally I knew it was true – an Irish convict ancestor – yay!

Discovering my female convicts and my husband’s in the Parramatta Female Factory plus two freeborn daughters of 2 sets of my convicts were sent there – sparked more interest in the Female Factory for me

My convict ancestor became a wealthy business man and acquired many properties in and around Hobart

My g g g grand uncle Lawrence Frayne wrote a diary while on Norfolk Island. His work outlines what he thought of the harsh punishment there and he praised Maconochie. I have transcribed the diary and it is fascinating

My g g g grandfather who arrived aged 14 was doing well until he married the madam of a brother (who had arrived free). From then on each time SHE committed a crime he was sent to jail for her crime

I know my aunt escaped at one time as it was recorded in the newspapers but I’m not sure that would have been especially unusual

I had a convict ancestor who ended up on a hulk and never got transported other relatives were not as fortunate but I have not fully investigated

I’ve found the Convicts on Hulks records on Ancestry really helpful

Mortality on the hulks was shocking.

I recently was researching my ancestors’ involvement in the Red Barn Murder Trial in 1828 in England and discovered their son came to Tasmania as a convict. His daughter born in Tas. became a prostitute and ended up in gaol sad

Convict blog posts

KerrieAnne: Charles Watson Waters, Weatherstone siblings,  Margaret Howe, Oliver/Shildon,

Brooke: Voyage of the Maitland in 1844, Patrick Joyce,

Pauleen: Gavin families, James Boland,

Sharn: Convict ancestors, Kitty Keeffe,

Alex: Convict posts,

Recommended by Carmel: Moreton Bay convicts,

Jennifer: Norah Ahern,

Sue: Rebecca Jackson and gang, William Tedman, My other convicts, Is she a convict?, Tasmanian convict records available,

Paula: Margaret Brawley,

Interesting discussion:

I love talking about & researching transported convicts, but I just can’t bring myself to use the term ‘Aussie Royalty’. If the origin is actually Jack Thompson on WDYTYA, he was referring to the step change, in family attitudes, from stain to royalty.

I don’t begrudge anyone else using the term if it gives them a giggle, of course, but I’m just not comfortable with it. I’m too matter-of-fact. Convicts were criminals, even if the punishment seems harsh to modern eyes. I wish I could articulate it better

I can see what you mean Brooke. There’s a tendency to think they were all badly done by, but not necessarily. Economic circumstances were often dire, but even so, you’d have to look at them case by case. I don’t have a single convict (from the convict era).

After 1770’s Revolutionary War in USA was over England demobbed lotsa soldiers onto streets. Females found themselves dislodged from jobs by returning soldiers. Other males like my 1st Fleeter John Small turned his Marines experience unsuccessfully as highwayman

Readers: Do you have a convict in your family? What records helped you tell their story?