National Library of Australia

Convict conduct sheets


Convict conduct sheet

State Library of Tasmania
Convict conduct sheet

Conduct sheets were the 19th-century equivalent of a police record: they recorded details of a convict’s sentence, arrival in the colony, physical appearance and, of course, conduct.

The records provided vital information when authorities were determining whether a convict qualified for a ticket-of-leave or a pardon.

This sheet was for a convict sent to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). Between 1788 and 1868—the beginning and end of the transportation period—almost half of the 160 000 convicts sent to Australia ended up in the island colony. Between 1841 and 1852, it received about 37 000.

A ticket-of-leave was granted after a period of good behaviour, which depended on the length of the sentence: four years for a seven-year sentence, six years for 14, and eight for life.

A conditional pardon was given for good conduct or hard work, and required the convict to stay in the colony for the remainder of the sentence.

An absolute pardon cancelled the unserved part of the sentence, without any conditions.