Certificate of Freedom

Thomas Harvey, 1843

Certificates of Freedom had to be carried at all times and shown to the appropriate authorities on demand. Thomas Harvey, who received this certificate in 1843, after completing his 14-year sentence, kept his certificate in a tin container to protect it from wear and tear. In nearly all cases the certificate restored all their legal rights and privileges as free citizens.

Norfolk labourer Thomas Harvey had arrived in Sydney on Katherine Stewart Forbes in 1830. His sentence was 14 years, for stealing fowls. When he received his freedom, Harvey was paid the money he had in his bank account - a sum of 3 pounds, which he had probably arrived with in 1830, and the government had banked it for him until he served out his sentence.

Emancipated convicts were given free grants of land, animals, tools and seed to establish themselves as viable settlers. Many in NSW became large landholders. By the 1820s, ex-convicts had become masters of most of the newly assigned convicts, owned over half the colony’s wealth and three-quarters of its land.

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Convict Sydney, Level 1, Hyde Park Barracks Museum
Convict Sydney


These convict-era objects and archaeological artefacts found at Hyde Park Barracks and The Mint (Rum Hospital) are among the rarest and most personal artefacts to have survived from Australia’s early convict period

Close up of a ceramic bottle. This item was featured in one of our virtual excursions.

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