New South Wales, Australia Genealogy
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Guide to New South Wales, Australia ancestry, family history and genealogy birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.
New South Wales is a state in south eastern Australia. The capital is Sydney. In 1770 Captain James Cook claimed the eastern coast of Australia for Britain naming it New South Wales. A convict settlement was planted at Sydney Cove (later simply Sydney) which became the mother colony for Australia and New Zealand. Colonial New South Wales developed with the wool industry in the 19th century achieving responsible self government in 1855 and becoming one of the founding six states of the federal Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
Getting started with New South Wales research
Numerous articles are available on FamilySearch Wiki to help you get started in family history. This portal will provide links to articles about general research topics: Principles of Family History Research.
Family History Research can be done at the State Library and Mitchell Library on Macquarie Street, Sydney just off Martin Place. Be sure to take some ID that shows your current address so that you can get a State Library Card that will allow you to use the computers anywhere in the building. The card gives residents of NSW access to online resources from home.
A variety of New South Wales record collections and related information is available at:
- The New South Wales section of the Family History Library Favorites.
- The State Archives and Records Online Indexes.
- The Eden/Monaro Pioneers Database, which contains over 393,000 names of individuals from the Eden/Monaro region and surrounding areas.
The FamilySearch Help Center includes these lessons (Microsoft browser may be required for viewing):
- New South Wales Early Church Records 1788-1886
- Using the New South Wales Birth, Death, Marriage Index
For most purposes, New South Wales is now a single jurisdiction but has been subdivided over time into different districts for different purposes: land administration, legal, electoral. local government, and so on.
The first British settlers brought with them as part of the common law of England units of administration - counties, hundreds, parishes - which had developed over centuries in Britain to form a framework which simply failed to work in the new geography and society of New South Wales. Fifty years after the arrival of the First Fleet, the colony was given a new legal beginning: the law of New South Wales (and Van Dieman's Land) was to be the law of England as it was on the 28th July 1828. Further, subsequent statute law passed by the Parliament at Westminster was only to apply to the colony if it was expressly stated to apply or because of the legal doctrine of paramountcy. Since 1823, the local colonial legislators had been empowered to make laws 'not repugnant to the Laws of England, but consistent therewith so far as the circumstances of the colony would admit'. As a result, local colonial authorities would often begin with an English model and adapt it to make it appropriate to local circumstances.
Counties and ParishesFrom the earliest days of settlement after the arrival of the First Fleet, the area around Sydney Cove and Port Jackson was called the County of Cumberland. Other counties were proclaimed as the limits of settlement expanded until 1825 when Royal Instructions ordered a general survey of the colony of New South Wales and its division into counties and parishes. The present State of New South Wales remains divided into 141 counties each with an area of about 40 square miles (the original survey measure). In turn, these are subdivided into 7,459 parishes. These counties and parishes have significance for land ownership records and in legislative instruments but have almost none of the other significance that an English county or parish had and has.
- Archives In Brief 80 NSW State Archives information on using county and parish maps
- Geographical Names Register search Find information on particular parishes etc.
Regions and Places
- Australian Courts Act 1828 (9 Geo 4 c 83) (repealed).
- New South Wales Act 1823 (4 Geo IV c 96).