- Record series in the index: NRS 5247 copied onto Reels 3114-3118. This is a partial index. It does not cover the items [4/4644] - 1854, and [4/4652, 4/4636, 4/4640, 4/4645 part, 4/4651] - 1857-1864.
- Entries in the index: 22,700+
- Copy service available
This index covers the names of individuals found in the letters, including those mentioned in the body of the letter, subject of the letter, official position, place and ship.
The letters are mainly manuscript copies sent by the Immigration Agent, mostly addressed to people in New South Wales. They deal with complaints, transport arrangements, advertisements, and financial arrangements. Replies to complaints show aspects of the immigration schemes running at the time, for example that a proportion of immigrants did not abide by the agreement they signed before embarking.
Letters deal with the following subjects:
- Accounts: payment of suppliers, salaries etc
- Advance: money advanced to a public official to enable efficient payment of accounts.
- Agricultural labourers: also farm labourer and farm servants (usually female)
- Certificates of deposit/deposit certificates: a process undertaken in the Colony. Money for an immigrants passage could be paid by a depositor in NSW to a local government official, for example the local Court of Petty Sessions. This money was transferred to the Colonial Treasurer. The amount paid for a passage would be specified in the Immigration Remittance Regulations, which set a passage amount depending on criteria such as gender, age, marital status, familial connections in the Colony, and occupations.
- Examination of immigrants: When an immigrant ship arrived in NSW the Immigration Board would examine the immigrants and take information about rations, treatment by the crew, ventilation etc. Depending on the nature of the evidence provided, the Board could hold an enquiry into the matter. See
- NRS 5257 for Reports by Immigration Board on complaints of immigrants about their passage, 1838-1887, and
- NRS 5255 Reports by the Immigration Agent on condition of immigrants and ships on their arrival, 1837-1895.
- Gratuities: The Immigration Board decided whether the ship's senior officers would receive their gratuities for the voyage, based on the examination of the immigrants.
- Indentures and agreements: processes for an immigrant's employment on arrival in NSW
- Instructions: to senior crew for the listing and unloading of passengers and their belongings, as well as fraternisation with the (unmarried female) immigrants.
- Marriages: as many immigrants were single female orphans, information about proposals of marriage was sent to the Immigration Board.
- Prohibited employers: typically those running a House of Public Entertainment (eg: an inn or hotel)
- Protected immigrants: males under 14 and females under 18 had to be under the protection of a respectable person on the voyage, or when travelling to a district outside of Sydney
- Returns of wages, prices etc: for the wages and prices applicable in each District. These were used to set a fair wage. Schedules of wages were displayed in Immigration Depots and other public places.
- Surgeons Journals: on arrival in NSW the Surgeon Superintendent's Journal was sent to the Immigration Boad, where it was examined before being returned to the Surgeon. Again this was used as evidence to determine whether senior crew would receive gratuities.
About (often used in identifying ages)
Care of, used in addressing letters back to sender, via another person, company, PO, etc
Clerk of Petty Sessions
Doctor of Divinity
Doctor (usually of Medicine)
Corner, as in cross-streets
Esquire, indicating a male of higher status in the Colony (usually owning land or a professional)
Justice of the Peace
Member of the Legislative Assembly (Lower House of Parliament)
Member of the Legislative Council (Upper House of Parliament)
Royal Navy officer. Often the actual rank was not shown in letters
Retired, generally naval or army officers
Sydney Morning Herald – a prominent newspaper
Saint or Street (depending on context)
Van Diemens Land (now Tasmania)