Ticket of leave

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A ticket of leave was an important document given to convicts who had been sent to Australia. Convicts who were well-behaved were given a ticket of leave. This gave them some rights, and they did not have to stay in gaol. With a ticket of leave, a convict was able to look for work in a particular area but could not leave the area without permission from a court. Every change of employer or district was written on the ticket. [1]

History[change | edit source]

Governor Philip Gidley King started the tickets of leave in 1801.[2] It gave prisoners a reason to behave themselves. Also, it helped to provide cheap workers for farmers who were settling in Australia. The government saved money as it did not have to feed and clothe the prisoners.

Those with a ticket of leave were able to marry or to bring their families from Britain. They could buy land but not carry guns or get onto a ship. They were often made to pay back the cost of their travel in the prison ship to Australia. The ticket of leave had to be renewed every year[3], and those with one had to attend muster (where it could be checked they were still living in the area), and church services. Prisoners could lose their ticket and be sent back to prison if they were lazy, if they tried to get paid too much, or if they were rude to the police or soldiers.[2] Sometimes, prisoners who helped the government, by capturing escaped convicts for example, might be given a ticket of leave as a reward.[4]

A convict who kept to the conditions of his ticket of leave was given a conditional pardon after half of the time he was supposed to be in gaol. Then, they were no longer a convict and could do everything except leave the colony. Convicts who did not keep to the conditions of their ticket could be arrested without warning, go to court without being able to appeal, and lose all their property.

The ticket[change | edit source]

The ticket itself was a highly detailed document. It listed the convicts' number, the name, the ship in which sent to Australia, the year that they arrived, the captain of the ship, where they came from, their job, the crimes,the place and date of trial, the sentence, the birth date, what they looked like, the area the prisoner was allowed to live in, the court that gave out the ticket, the date the ticket was given, any other conditions of the ticket, and any changes of where they lived.[5] A lot of this information has been kept[6], which makes them a very important source of information for people looking at family history.[7]

References[change | edit source]

Other websites[change | edit source]