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 Research Guide > Emancipation > Next: Repeat Offenders

Research Guide

Tickets of Leave
Conditional Pardons
Absolute Pardons
Certificates of Freedom
Leaving the Colony
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Tickets of Leave
A Ticket of Leave (TOL) was a document given to convicts when granting them freedom to work and live within a given district of the colony before their sentence expired or they were pardoned. TOL convicts could hire themselves out or be self-employed. They could also acquire property. Church attendance was compulsory, as was appearing before a Magistrate when required. Permission was needed before moving to another district and 'passports' were issued to those convicts whose work required regular travel between districts. Convicts applied through their masters to the Bench Magistrates for a TOL and needed to have served a stipulated portion of their sentence:
- 7 year terms needed 4 years service with 1, or 5 years with 2 masters
- 14 years needed 6 years with 1, 8 years with 2 or 12 years with 3 masters
- Lifers needed 8 years with 1, 10 years with 2 or 12 years with 3 masters
TOL documents record the convict's number, name, ship, year of arrival, the master of the ship, native place, trade or calling, offence, place and date of trial, sentence, year of birth, physical description, the district the prisoner was allocated to, the granting Bench, the date of issue, and further remarks about Conditional Pardons and district changes. Registers of Tickets of Leave 1824 to 1827 (with index) are included in the SAONSW Genealogical Research Kit. Records of applications for replacement tickets and records of passport tickets for convicts moving between districts from 1835 to 1869 were also kept and are held by the SAONSW.

Conditional Pardons
Conditional Pardons (CP) freed convicts and were granted on the condition that convicts did not return to England or Ireland. Original copies of the pardons were sent to England and duplicates remained in Australia. Copies were also given to convicts as a proof of pardon. Conditional Pardon records give date, name, where and when tried, sentence, ship and date of arrival. Later records may also give master, native place, trade or calling, offence, sentence, year of birth and a physical description. Copies of butts of Conditional Pardons (1824-1827) and Conditional Pardons registered by the Colonial Secretary (1826-1870) are available. An alphabetical register of pardons (1828-1862) is on microfilm as well as a register of Colonial Pardons from 1788 to 1867.

Absolute Pardons
Absolute Pardons (AP) allowed convicts to return to England as their sentences were totally cleared. These pardons were often earnt but the Governor could grant the pardons for several reasons. From 1791 to 1810, Absolute Pardons recorded name, date of pardon and number but later registers contained more details. The SAONSW holds copies of Registers of Absolute Pardons.

Certificate of Freedom
Certificates of Freedom (CF) were introduced in 1810 and issued to convicts at the completion of their sentence. Records usually note date, name, ship, year of arrival, when tried and sentence. Certificate of Freedom Butts from 1827 to 1867 also give native place, calling, year of birth, physical description and sometimes TOL information. Once again, the SAONSW holds copies and indexes of these records.

Tasmanian and Western Australian convicts also qualified for the various forms of pardons and records are available in Tasmania and Western Australia.

Leaving the Colony
Convicts could leave the colonies after their sentences were completed or after being granted an Absolute Pardon. Departures were announced in the Sydney Gazette's 'Notice of Intent' column. Some went to work on trading, whaling and fishing vessels while others returned to England. Those released on Conditional Pardons were not allowed to return to England or Ireland.
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