Convicts transported from South Australia
The following database will allow you to access details
on persons convicted in South Australian courts to transportation.
Many people have expressed surprise that South Australian
courts were involved in the transportation of convicted
criminals but every court in every jurisdiction throughout
the British Empire operated with the same statutes.
An examination of the offences which resulted in conviction
revealed that the South Australian courts were closely aligned
to the sentencing strategies of their British counterparts.
The South Australians sentenced to transportation in the
first eleven years of settlement [1837-1848] can be located
at State Records by searching through a range of material
including the Adelaide Gaol registers which are on microfilm.
For the remaining period [1849-1851], the material is a
little more elusive and a multitude of sources, all incomplete,
need to be examined. The best sources are the newspaper
reports, however, these do not indicate a subsequent pardon
or commutation of the sentence. Moreover, the details of
the actual transportation are not outlined as in the gaol
records. Once the name is secured the researcher can check
the indexed Colonial Secretary's and Supreme Court correspondence
files for further details. This is a rather hit and miss
affair as not all those convicted were the subject of correspondence.
Some correspondence on related matters does refer to the
transportees but this can usually only be located by checking
the whole index. References to convicts have been noted
in correspondence to Colonial Secretaries of neighbouring
colonies, agreements between the government and ship owners
to transport convicts and pay adjustments for police escorting
In the early days of settlement, South Australia was plagued
with problems attributed to escaped convicts [called bolters]
from the penal settlements in the east of the continent.
These outlaws saw the colony as a safe haven but had to
resort to a life of crime as they were unable to obtain
The other link South Australia has with transportation is
through the number of transported convicts who ultimately
settled in South Australia. A significant, but unknown number
of ex-convicts chose to settle in South Australia. Several
individuals rose to prominent positions within their local
communities, but by and large they can only be located by
chance. In the century following the discontinuation of
transportation, ex-convicts and their families went to considerable
lengths to hide their past.
Many cases have come to light where not even immediate members
of the family knew that a member of their family had been
a convict. It is only in quite recent times that it has
become almost fashionable to locate an ancestor who was
a convict! Regardless, there are still families living in
South Australia who refuse to believe they descend from