Tony Laffan - Guest Speaker on 25 October 2003
Here are some hints as to how to locate your ancestors.
Start from your parents and grandparents. Once you can find the approximate dates of their births or marriages. Once you get back before 1945 death dates become more important. The exact date is not necessary but the year is.
Where to look.
If you are on the internet it is easy, if your folks come from NSW. The address is http://www.bdm.gov.au Once you get to this site punch in the Indexes. Once here you fill in the necessary gaps. You can only access births 1788-1905, Deaths 1788-1945 and marriages 1788-1945.
Spelling can be a problem especially as you get back as you might have to try different spellings. Eg Shea or O'Shea, Cloulthread, Colthread Colethread etc. Marriages help and children it is easy to over the 10 years to chart the children. There are numerous other places to search like Supreme Court trials etc.
If you are not on the internet next step is to go to NSW Library, and later the Mitchell Library. (These are just down the road from State Gov House in Macquarie St). Go in then down the spiral staircase to the lockers. On that floor there are all the newspapers. These include country newspapers accessible at the inquiry desk at the far end of the room. Great if you have date of death. Best of all down stairs to the next level where there is the Family History section, very helpful people at the desk. At the desk there are all the Birth, Death, and Marriage details on microfiche easy to follow, and helpful staff.
Other things down there are the Convict Indents where you can find convicts of your name etc. The Musters are great if you can get back before 1837
At the Mitchell you have unbelievable resources including all the early newspapers, Sydney Gazette and Australian dating from about 1803. The first 40 years are indexed so if you are a James Hanks you simply look up Hanks and find all the times they have a story in the paper. Some of the best I found were robberies and a marriage spat. Some unbelievable other news items on the pages.
Also there on microfilm are the birth, baptisms and deaths from the churches. Looking up these I have been able to see all the signatures way back in 1805. Also recorded are the people who were the witnesses and probably friends.
Another place to visit is the Government Records at the end of a small street at the Rocks off George St called Globe Street.
Here you can find court cases, in the indexed Colonial Secretary indexes. But best of all you can find out about migrant ships, copies of the ships logs which gives very good info about the passengers. Eg migrants from Ireland in the 1850's. Also you can find the convicts Tickets of Leave and Pardons where there is often a description of the person.
Back to later days. Sometime you reach a dead end. You need to send for a death certificate and very often find all sorts of information especially where they were born and who were the parents and where and where they were born. You can send off to BDM for these for about $34 but you must wait 5-7 weeks. There are a number of people who have permission to access these files. You no longer get photocopies from the BDM so you get the same from these people. They usually charge about $16 and get info back about one week to ten days.
One who has been good for me is: