I need some help in sorting through three convicts of the same name who were sent to Tasmania /Van Diemans land
Is there a professional geneologist?
Have you visited the State Library of Tasmania which is linked to the Archives of Tasmania? If you google Tasmanian Archives it will send you to LINC where you can actually view the conduct records (and other original records) for Tasmanian convicts. You can then compare and eliminate. If you are searching for women in VDL before 1840 get the book (or CD) called "Notorious Strumpets and Dangerous Girls" (I just love that title!) where the convict women to that date have had their info amalgamated. It is very useful for eliminating the women. The Archives site will send (or used to) you lists of suggested Tasmanian researchers.
If you are not familiar with the convict records available online, as described by Spison, then you may need some pointers on interpreting the information presented on these old hand-written records.
The index to 'Tasmanian Convicts' that leads you to the actual digitised records is available here:
There is a great book titled "Transcribing Tasmanian Convict Records" by Susan Hood (2003) that is very handy if you are serious about fully understanding these records.
Here are some brief points to help sort out which convict is which:
- The conduct record, description list and convict indent all show the age, and therefore the approximate birth year
- The conduct record and convict indent will usually show the "Native Place", and the description list often shows the Native Place written to one side. The native place may be proceeded by a hand-written "N.P." in early records
- The conduct record, description list and convict indent all show the convict's trade prior to conviction
- The conduct record and convict indent usually show the court/place where the convict was tried
- The conduct record for Female convicts will usually provide information about any marriage while they are a convict
- By following through all the dates written in various places on the conduct record you can get an idea of their movements and whether that fits with other information you have on the person. However there are a great many abbreviations on the convict record that are hard to decipher - this is where you really need the book.
- The conduct record will usually have "Cert" or "Free Cert" or "FC" near the bottom with a date. This is the date they became free and could do as they please.
- Often the convict was effectively free well before the 'Certificate of Freedom' was issued, by virtue of a Conditional Pardon (which usually meant they could not leave Tasmania until they were completely free). The conduct record will indicate this near the bottom by "C Pardon" or "CP" or "CP appd" and a date (maybe with a number as well). After a Conditional Pardon a lot of convicts did not bother actually getting their 'Certificate of Freedom' once they qualified because they actually had to pay for it !!
- The indents are very handy because they often state who are the convict's immediate relatives - but it is handwritten and can be difficult to decipher. The early convict records sometimes have this information written in the box at the top of the conduct record instead.
If you are lucky you might see something in the 'Remarks' column of the convict Indent like this:
"W Sarah F John M Mary B Jas Robt S Martha Maria NP"
This is genealogical gold, because it is telling you that his relatives are:
wife - Sarah
father - John
mother - Mary
brothers - James & Robert
sisters - Martha & Maria
all residing at the convicts Native Place (i.e. NP)
The other index to check at the LINC name indexes website is "Convict applications for permission to marry", which might also help work out which convict is which. These applications state which convict ship the applicant arrived on (or if their spouse was in fact free), so you can sort them out.
So if you can pull out all these bits of information for each convict, and compare it all with whatever other information you might have about the person you are after, then you may have a good chance of working out which is the right convict.
I should have added that there is another very useful website for finding out about convicts, the Founders & Survivors site:
Once you find a name you are after then it will provide a summary of information from various sources. Links are provided to these other sources if they have been added by users of the site. The other useful thing is it usually provides you a page reference for the various convict records on the LINC website, so you do not have spend half an hour trawling through convict records to find the one you want.