Tasmanian Convict System Information

Tasmanian Convict Record Abbreviations

by Maree Ring

© Maree Ring 2017. All rights reserved



This was first published in 1993 when I intended this guide to help with the transcription of the records of those convicts who served their time in Van Diemen´s Land. It's need was established when I first began tutoring classes entitled "Researching Tasmanian Convicts" with Adult Education.

The records of the convict systems differ from period to period and within each type of record.

Records on convicts and their sentences and offences in the colony were not begun until 1825 when Edward Cook, a law-stationer under a life sentence arrived here. He was put to work to compile a series of "Black Books" [now known as CON 31 for men and CON 40 for women] containing particulars of convicts who had arrived since the Calcutta in 1804. [Guide to the Public Records of Tasmania, Section Three, Convict Department.] http://www.archives.tas.gov.au/guides/Con_guide.pdf

However, by 1825, some of those convicts who arrived on the Calcutta had long since died or left the colony, and their name is not recorded. Similarly there is little, if any information for those who arrived and had served their sentence prior to 1825, those who came in through New South Wales may have records from that state. Now in 2005 this is being rectified by research of early records.

Later records give more information on the appearance and family of individuals. The records of those who arrived during the assignment system and progressed to the probation system have a P/Pn marked on their record in the column on the left of the page under their Police number. The records of those who arrived within the probation period (June, 1840 for men and 1844 for women) note by initials where they had served their probation, and have to whom or the place of assignment noted.

Abbreviations have been unfailingly used on convict records and these varied a little, probably at the whim of the clerk.

I have included abbreviations of names, occupations and place names.

It is probable that I have missed some abbreviations, so you may care to advise me to add to this.


I would like to thank Robyn Eastley, Archives Office of Tasmania for her help in preparation of this and Meryl Yost for her kindness in hosting this dissertation on this site.


Note: not all the following records are available for every convict.

CON 14 = indents of male convicts, Nov. 1827, Aug. 1831, Aug. 1835, Aug./Sept. 1838, Feb. 1841 - May 1853.
CON 15
indents of female convicts 11 Sept. 1839, 19 Apr. - 21 Apr. 1853.
CON 18
description lists of male convicts 1828 - 1853.
CON 19
description lists of female convicts 1841 - 1853.
CON 31
male conduct registers 1812 - 1840.
CON 32 = male and female conduct registers, Supplementary Volumes
CON 33
male conduct registers 1840 - 1853.
CON 40
female conduct registers 1820 - 1843.
CON 41
female conduct register 1844 - 1853.

* applies to records CON 33 and CON 41 only.
** refers to descriptions of persons or family members.

Top left margin police number which was given on arrival
Top left hand corner name; length of sentence
´Tried´ place and date of trial - Assizes, Central Criminal Court; Middlesex Gaol Delivery (CCC; MGD = Old Bailey, London), Court of Justiciary (Scotland), Court Martial, Great Sessions, Oyer and Terminer [Norman French for 'to hear and determine'], Quarter Sessions, Session of Pleas.
´Embarked´ * date of sailing from UK
´Arrived´ * date of arrival, Hobart
Religion * Protestant, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic
Education * R & W = read and write;
B = both, read and write;
N = neither read nor write

´Transported for

  • statement of sentence

  • "Gaol report" from prison in England -

  • marital status, M or S = married or single

  • "stated this offence" = convict's statement of what he was transported for, includes any previous offences

  • "Hulk report" = behaviour on ships used as prisons in England

  • "Surgeon´s report" = doctor's report of convicts health and behaviour during the voyage.
    Description * = physical description of convict (police photographs have taken over this role) abbreviations below
    ´Marks´ = tattoos, scars, moles and other distinguishing marks
    ´Station of Gang´ * = Probation Station where convict employed
    ´Class´ * = Probation Pass Holder [P.P.H.] - 3 classes of pass were issued varying in degrees of restriction and wages.
    ´Offences and Sentences´ - conduct in the colony while still under sentence

  • date of offence

  • place of employment or employer [and town]

  • offence/ sentence/ magistrates initials or APM\PM/ 'vide Lieut. Gov's Memo/Decision' (these memos have not survived)
    ´Remarks´ *

  • refer to health/behaviour whilst under first stage of probation

  • name of employer and residence and any notable events during convicts' period of transportation, e.g. capture of bushranger, applying for indulges (TL/CP)

    Remarks on bottom of page of CON 31, CON 40 and along margin side of page of CON 33 and CON 41 indicate the areas/towns to which the convict was assigned.

    * applies to records CON 33 and CON 41 only.
    ** refers to descriptions of persons or family members.
    # the following abbreviations also use the old fashioned long ´f´ then ´s´ indicating ´ss´.


    abs(d) absconded
    Absentg Absenting
    abt about
    accorg according
    acct account
    actg acting
    add(it)n addition
    admond admonished
    agt against
    APM Assistant Police Magistrate
    appd approved
    apprehd apprehended
    Apts apartment(s), see Sep Apts
    Ass # Assize
    assaultg assaulting
    assd # assigned
    assignt # assignment
    b & w bread and water
    B both - can both read and write
    B ** Brother(s)
    Bd Board - in the context of on that same ship
    Beatg beating
    Bks Barracks
    blk ** black
    bro ** brown
    Cal calendar
    Calr also calendar
    CCC Central Criminal Court, London, also known as the Old Bailey
    Cert Certificate (of Freedom)
    Ch Gang Chain Gang
    Chr character
    chs chains
    C.H. Colonial Hospital
    Col(l) Colonial
    Co. Justicy Court of Justiciary (Scotland)
    comd committed
    Commd commended
    complt complaint
    concealg concealing
    Cond Conditional (Pardon)
    conf(d) confined
    conf(t) confinement
    Connexns connections (relation(ship)s)
    Constle Constable
    convt(d) convict(ed)
    CP Conditional Pardon
    CPM Chief Police Magistrate
    Ct Ml Court Martial
    CS Colonial Service/Servitude
    D & D drunk and disorderly
    D. [Ln] District [of Launceston]
    DC District Constable
    Decisn decision
    Dischd discharged
    dism(iss)d dismissed
    disobce disobedience
    disordy disorderly
    distributg distributing
    dis(turb)g disturbing
    do ditto (a repetition of information)
    D.P. Deputy Purveyor (in regard to death and subsequent purchase? of coffin)
    E.R. Ecclesiastically revoked (in regard to obtaining permission to marry - for reasons unexplained the Church revoked permission to marry.)
    Evidce evidence
    exam(inat)n examination
    extd extended
    existg existing
    expirn expiration
    F ** Father
    F in L(aw) ** Father in law; not the current meaning of the spouse's father, but an old meaning of step-father
    FHC Female House of Correction
    F(y)/Fac(ty) Factory
    fm from
    Gazd gazetted, notice usually in Hobart Town Gazette
    GD Gaol Delivery
    Govt Government
    Gt Great Sessions
    GS General Sessions
    H ** Husband
    H (of) C(orrn) House of Correction
    hd lab or HL hard labour
    hh high
    Hospl hospital
    Impt/imprit imprisonment
    ins ** inside (part of body)
    inst instant (date of the current month)
    intenn intention
    intoxn intoxication
    L ** large (description)
    L lashes
    L(ieu)t G(ovn) D(ecn) Lieutenant Governor's Decision
    Lieut Gov M(emo) Lieutenant Governor´s Memo both of above usually with the latin ´vide´. Record of these decisions or memos have not survived.
    Lodg lodging
    lt ** left (side)
    lt ** light (colouring)
    Ly lazy
    M Married
    M ** mother
    makg making
    Middx Middlesex (see MGD)
    medm medium description
    messr # messenger
    MGD Middlesex Gaol Delivery see CCC
    M.H. ** medium high
    M.L. ** medium length
    M.S. ** medium size
    M.W. ** medium width
    misc(ond)t misconduct
    morng morning
    mos months
    mths months
    N neither (read nor write)
    NP/N.P(lace) native place
    obtg obtaining
    origl original
    O & T Oyer and Terminer, referring to court sessions, often followed by GD
    P/Pn Probation (added after changing from Assignment system)
    P(rot) Protestant
    partn partition
    P.B./ P Bks Prisoner Barracks
    perpen perpendicular
    P E L'ton Prison Establishment, Launceston
    Ppendic perpendicular (referring to shape of forehead)
    Petn petition
    P.O. Police Office
    Possn # possession
    PPH Probation Pass Holder
    Prinl Principal
    prisr prisoner
    Pr (os) Prosecutor
    prob(at)n probation
    propy property
    p(r)ty party
    PS Office Principal Superintendant (of Convicts) Office
    P.W. Public Works
    Q O School Queen's Orphan School
    Q.S. Quarter Sessions
    RC Roman Catholic
    rd received
    Rd pty road party
    recom(m)d recommended
    redh ** reddish (colouring)
    removd removed
    reprimd reprimanded
    residce residence
    resistg resisting
    retd returned
    RL reads (a) little
    R/N Read/None - able to read; not able to write
    rt ** right (side)
    R&W Read and Write
    S single
    S ** unmarried sister(s)
    S ** small (description)
    Saty Saturday
    Secy Secretary (Col. Sec.)
    Sentce sentence
    Sep Apts separate apartment(s)
    serv(e) service
    Sessn Session (of Pleas)
    sol/solity Solitary
    st(eal)g stealing
    Supt Superintendent
    Suspd suspected/suspended
    Td Wl tread wheel
    threatg threatening
    TL Ticket of Leave
    tm term
    transpd transported
    transpor(t)n transportation
    T. Wheel tread wheel
    Ux Uxor (uxor Latin = "wife". Where a convict has married and may have been assigned to the husband. The surname noted is the husband's.)
    vide latin 'see' - see also LGD
    W ** wife
    witht without
    writg writing
    yesty yesterday
    yrs years


    Bernh(d)                       Bernhard                       
    Cath(e) Catherine
    Ch(a)s Charles
    Edwd Edward
    Eliz(t)h Elizabeth
    Fredk Frederick
    Geo George
    Hy Henry
    Jas James
    Jno John
    Jos Joseph
    Josh Joshua
    M.A. Mary Ann(e)
    Marg(t) Margaret
    Michl Michael
    Patk Patrick
    R(ich)d Richard
    Robt Robert
    Sam(l) Samuel
    Thos Thomas
    Wm William


    Farms                           farm servant                           
    F servant do
    FWK frame work knitter
    Gard gardener
    Ho house (maid/servant)
    Impt imperfect (tradesman - unqualified?)
    Lab Labourer
    Md maid (see also Ho)
    Pl C(ook) plain cook
    Plo´ plough(man)
    Servt servant
    Wm woman


    A. Ponds Antill Ponds
    Bagd Bagdad
    Beacond Beaconsfield
    B(t)n Brighton
    B. M. Broad Marsh
    Brd Marsh Broad Marsh
    B(r) R Brown's River (now Kingston)
    B.W. Bridgewater
    Casc Cascades (female factory, Hobart) or on Tasman's Peninsula for males
    C. Head Circular Head
    C. Mines Coal Mines
    C(onstn) Hill Constitution Hill
    C.Town Campbell Town
    Darln Darlington (Maria Island)
    Del Deloraine
    Elizth St. Elizabeth Street (Hobart)
    F. Fingal
    Fls Island Flinders Island
    G. Gaol (usually followed by a place name)
    G. Ponds Green Ponds (now Kempton)
    G(eo)T(own) George Town
    G.S. Port Greater Swan Port
    G.T. H(ill) Grass Tree Hill (road party)
    Gleny Glenorchy
    Ham(n) Hamilton
    Hob(t) Hobart
    H.T(own) Hobart (Town)
    I. Bay Ida Bay
    Imp Bay Impression Bay
    Jer(us)m Jerusalem (now Colebrook)
    Jer/o Jericho
    L. Point Long Point
    L(y). B(ks) Lovely Banks
    Launcn Launceston
    L(to)n Launceston
    Longfd Longford
    L/pool St. Liverpool Street, Hobart
    Ly Banks Lovely Banks
    Macq. St. Macquarie Street, Hobart
    McQuarrie St. Macquarie Street, Hobart
    M.I. Maria Island
    N.N. New Norfolk
    N.Plains Norfolk Plains, now Longford
    N.R. Nicholls Rivulet
    Oatld Oatlands
    Oats Oatlands
    O. Cove Oyster Cove
    Ptn Picton
    P. Puer Point Puer
    Pont(v)e Pontville
    P(t.) A Port Arthur
    Pt. P Point Puer
    P. Esperance Port Esperance
    R. Ross
    R.H. Rocky Hills
    R. Hills Rocky Hills
    Richd Richmond
    S.M.C. Seven Mile Creek, near Victoria Valley, Hamilton
    S.M. Pass St Marys Pass
    S. Port Southport
    S.W.C. Saltwater Creek, see proper name S.W.R.
    S.W.R. Saltwater River
    T Bridge Tunbridge
    Tunb Tunbridge
    Westby Westbury

    * applies to records CON 33 and CON 41 only.
    ** refers to descriptions of persons or family members.


    AJCP Australian Joint Copying Project, records from PRO, London and CRO's available on microfilm in selected libraries including AOT.
      ADM = Admiralty, (naval matters includes surgeon's reports for convict ships), found in handbook part 7
      AO = Exchequer and Audit Dept., found in handbook part 7
      BT = Board of Trade, found in handbook part 6
      CO = Colonial Office, found in handbook part 2
      DO = Dominion's Offices, found in handbook part 10
      FO = Foreign Office, found in handbook part 5
      HO = Home Office, (convicts) found in handbook part 3
      MT = Ministry of Transport, found in handbook part 7
      PC = Privy Council, found in handbook part 7
      PCOM = Prisons Commissions
      PMG = Paymaster General's Office, found in handbook part 7
      T = Treasury, found in handbook part 7
      WO = War Office, (army) found in handbook part 4

    AONSW Archives Office of New South Wales, some of these records are held at AOT.
    AOT Archives Office of Tasmania, hold Tasmanian Government and other records, see booklet by Neil Chick and Lilian Watson (now out of print).

    Some of the documents from various government departments are referred to by the following abbreviations:

    CEN = census
    CON = convict
        AP absolute pardon
        APM Assistant Police Magistrate
        AS assigned servant
        CF certificate of freedom
        CP conditional pardon
        FC free certificate
        FS free by servitude
        TL ticket of leave
        NP native place, see earlier explanation
        PM Police Magistrate

    CSD = Chief Secretary's Department, see CSO
    CSO = Colonial Secretary's Office, forerunner of CSD
    CUS = Customs Department
    ED = Education Department
    GD = Gaol Department
    GO = Governor's Office
    HSD = Health Services Department
    LA = Local Authority (forerunner of the municipal council, and can include local cemetery trust and/or road trust records)
    LC = Lower Court
    LSD = Lands and Survey's Department
    MB = Marine Board
    MM = microfilm of some Tasmanian related records from ML, NSW.
    NS = non state records (includes church records)
    POL = Police
    RGD = Registrar-General's Department, holder of BDM's
    SC = Supreme Court
    SWD = Social Welfare Department

    Many of the above government departments have had name and administration changes and the policy of AOT is to no longer use the initials of the department, but to designate new agencies by unrepresentative initials of the alphabet.

    (Since 1993 when this book was first published, these agencies may have changed name.)


    These records of convicts from Ireland were a bicentennial (1988) gift from the Government of Ireland to the people of Australia.

    The indexes on CD-ROM, and corresponding microfilms for these records are available in the reference section of the State Library of Tasmania. Also see the National Archives of Ireland: Ireland - Australia Transportation Database

    The following abbreviations have been used in the records.

    CRF = Convict Reference Files
    FSP = Free Settlers' Papers
    MCR = Male Conduct Register
    PPC = Prisoners' Petitions and Cases
    RCS = Register of Convicts on Ships
    TR = Transportation Registers


    Many convicts came from London and were sentenced at the Old Bailey, although the court stated may have been the Sessions of Oyer and Terminer and Gaol Delivery for the City of London and County of Middlesex, sometimes abbreviated to Middlesex Gaol Delivery. From 1834 the court was then known as Central Criminal Court and the courts covered besides the Central Criminal Court, were Essex, Kent and Surrey.

    The Old Bailey Session Papers date from 4 December 1776 to 20 November 1870 and are now available online Old Bailey Session Papers


    Inveraray Jail, Scotland’s living 19th century prison – has prisoners listed on their site Inverary Jail

    Submitted to this site by Maree Ring
    © Maree Ring 2017. All rights reserved

    Back to Main Convict Page

    Submitted 10-Jun-2005
    Revised 25-Sep-2017