The first convict ships for Australia set sail in 1787. They arrived in January 1788 and established the colony of New South Wales. Over the next eighty years approximately 165,000 criminals were transported from Britain to the Australian penal colonies. The library holds a number of books that tell the story of transportation to Australia, with ‘The Fatal Shore: a history of the transportation of convicts to Australia 1787-1868′ by Robert Hughes (1998) being the most well known.
There are also a number of publications available which describe the surviving records and where they can be found. Examples include ‘Bound for Australia: a guide to the records of transported convicts and early settlers’ by David T Hawkings (2012) and Cora Num’s ‘Convict Records in Australia’ (2007). The State Records Authority of New South Wales has produced an official work titled ‘Guide to New South Wales State Archives relating to convicts and convict administration’ (2006). This book provides in-depth coverage of the available records and what they contain.
Some of the books held by the library focus on convicts in specific areas of Australia, including ‘Convicts of the Port Phillip District’ by Keith M Clarke (1999) and ‘Convicts in Western Australia 1850-1887′ by Rica Erickson & Gillian O’Mara (1994). Photographs and histories of individual convicts who were transported to Tasmania can be seen in Edwin Barnard’s book ‘Exiled: the Port Arthur Convict Photographs’ (2000).
Scots were also transported to Australia and the library holds some publications that provide details of individuals who were sent to the penal colonies. David Dobson’s three volume ‘Directory of Scots in Australasia, 1788-1900′ (1994-7) differentiates between those who were transported and those who emigrated by their own choice. ‘Tay Valley People in Australia’ (1988) also splits its list of individuals into those that went voluntarily and those that were sent by order of the courts.