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Court records contain information about individuals who were involved in litigation or other court matters. Details about Australian convicts are often found in court records. Most court records provide names of individuals who served as defendants, plaintiffs, jurors, or witnesses. They may also provide such information as the individual’s residence, occupation, physical description, and family.

There were several different courts in Australia. Cases brought before the district magistrates’ courts and the courts of quarter sessions in each state concerned petty crimes such as theft, breaches of peace, and drunkenness.

Supreme courts handled divorces, bankruptcies, insolvencies, and naturalizations. Some of the functions of the supreme courts were later transferred to the federal courts. The federal courts tried the most serious and indictable offenses such as murder and manslaughter.

Coroner’s courts investigated unusual deaths. Records dealing with these matters included the deceased’s name, age, and place of death. Newspapers often reported the dealings of the coroner’s courts, which may provide additional information such as the names of the descendant’s spouse and children and reports of witnesses.

Each state published a government or police gazette. These gazettes included information about individuals who appeared before the courts and individuals who were employed by the government or who held public offices (school teachers, constables, or postmasters). The gazettes also gave details about land grants and transfers, leases, mining claims, runaway convicts, and individuals who were granted various licenses.

Court records in Australia can be found in national archives, state archives, and other local repositories and libraries. For further information, see the "Archives and Libraries"article of this wiki.

There are some published name indexes to existing court records. The Family History Library has many of these indexes. Look in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:

AUSTRALIA, [STATE] - COURT RECORDS: INDEXES

AUSTRALIA, [STATE], [TOWN] - COURT RECORDS: INDEXES

Many Australian archives have published guides to their court record holdings. These copies are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:

AUSTRALIA, [STATE], [TOWN] - COURT RECORDS - INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS

The Family History Library has some microfilm copies of Australian court records and gazettes. These copies are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:

AUSTRALIA - COURT RECORDS

AUSTRALIA, [STATE] - COURT RECORDS

AUSTRALIA, [STATE], [TOWN] - COURT RECORDS


 

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