NSW Lands Department Research

This is a very brief summary of a talk to be given at the Society of Australian Genealogists on Saturday 22 January 2011, showing links to all the websites mentioned.

You can find land titles, deeds, plans and other records at the NSW Lands Department, now known as the NSW Land & Property Management Authority. Some of these records are available to purchase online, others must be inspected and copied at the Land and Property Information office in Queens Square, opposite St Mary’s Cathedral and Hyde Park.

References

First you need to find the references. When searching an index, map or other document copy down everything you see, even if you don’t know what it means. It may be that crucial reference that you will need later on.

References to look for:

Volume and Folio – Torrens Title reference   eg. Vol 1234 Fol 123, also written as 1234-123 (manual title) or 123/12345 or 12/3/45678 (computerised, after 1989)

Book and Registration Number – Old System deeds   eg. Bk 2345 No. 321, or Reg 321 Bk 2345

Primary Application Number eg. PA 12345, or Appn 12345

Deposited Plan eg. DP12345

Crown Plan eg. B123.4567

Where to find references

Parish maps

Lands online inquiries

Index volumes at Queens Square

Where to purchase copies of documents

Digital copies

Paper copies

  • Queens Square Basement Wing

Where to learn more

NSW Land & Property Management Authority http://www.lpma.nsw.gov.au/home

Research Guides http://www.baseline.nsw.gov.au/guides.html

A map of Sydney from 1802

A message on the AUS-CONVICTS mailing list on Rootsweb has provided a link to this wonderfully detailed German map of Sydney in 1802.

Plan von Sydney der Hauptstadt der Englischen Colonien in Australien.

Aufgenommen von Hrn. Lesueur; und berichtigt von Hrn Boullanger i. J. 1802

[Map of Sydney, the capital of the British colonies in Australia.

Recorded by Mr. Lesueur, and corrected by Mr Boullanger AD 1802]

http://archivemaps.com/mapco/sydney1802/sydney.htm

It is an excellent reminder to all of us to look at maps of the places where our ancestors lived from the time that they lived there. Even if they didn’t live in Sydney, as my ancestors didn’t, they passed through here on their way out to the areas where they eventually settled, and probably stayed a day, or a week. Imagine them walking down these streets, past the Barracks or the Hospital, and seeing convict gangs and red-coated soldiers, and trying to find a bed and a meal for the night.

Look for maps of the area where your ancestor lived or might have visited. Here are a few examples:

  • Mapco, where the above map came from. They are constantly finding new maps for our pleasure.
  • National Library of Australia’s MapSearch, over 100,000 maps held in libraries across Australia.
  • Historical Parish Maps – NSW Department of Lands
  • Old Maps UK for UK maps

And don’t forget Google Maps, to see what the place looks like now, in both map and satellite views, and street view in some areas. Perhaps the old house is still there!

Five essential websites for NSW genealogy

Today I want to discuss websites that I find to be essential for researching family history in New South Wales. Genealogy has come a very long way in the last few years, with so many government repositories and others putting indexes, and even images of the actual records, online. Here are the websites that I use most often.

1. NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages Historical Index Search is a necessary first step for anyone starting on their family history. Starting with the people you know – your parents and their parents, you can then start putting the meat on the bones – the hard evidence of birth, death, and marriage registrations. The index allows searching for births from 1788 to 1906 by name and/or parents’ names; deaths from 1788 to 1976 by name or parents’ names; and marriages from 1788 to 1956 by either or both parties’ names. The upper search limit increases each year by one year. Once an entry is found the certificate can be ordered and paid for online. Current cost for a certificate is $25.00.

2. NSW State Records was previously names the Archives Office of NSW. Their indexes online has many useful indexes including some censuses; Colonial Secretary Correspondence; Convicts; Court, Police and Prison records such as civil and criminal cases, divorces, gaol photographs, police service records, and some early probate records; Deceased Estate files of the Stamp Duties Office; Education and Child Welfare; Immigration and Shipping; Indigenous Australians; Insolvencies; Land records and Naturalization. Additional records and series are added to as indexing progresses. The Convict and Immigration indexes are essential resources for finding out how your ancestor arrived in Australia. Some indexes are held on the websites of other organisations.

3. Society of Australian Genealogists is based in Sydney and is a marvelous resource for Australian research and NSW research in particular. Their research guides are enormously helpful – factual and very informative. Online databases include Convicts’ Tickets of Leave, Electoral districts for Sydney Streets, Soldiers and Marines from 1787 to 1830, and NSW Ships Musters 1816-1825. The catalogue shows what resources are available when you visit the library and is being added to all the time.

4. State Library of NSW has many resources that are also available in other repositories such as State Records NSW. I always check their catalogue to see if it is worthwhile to visit for records on microfilm or microfiche, both Australian and from the UK. They also have some records for other states. Mitchell Library and the William Dixson Library in particular specialise in Australian and New Zealand books and manuscripts. The State Library also has a vast collection of maps and plans, pictures, photographs and newspapers.

5. NSW Department of Lands is not an immediately obvious source for family history, and it does allow some limited property searches here. What I use it for most often is its Historical Parish Maps, which can be viewed in small sections from here. It may be useful before doing a map search to find the correct parish using the search at the Geographical Names Board. All the existing parish maps that have been superceded by more recent versions have been digitised and put online. Towns are included to the street level, and portions of land have the names of the original purchaser. Hours can be spent looking at these maps. CDs of the maps are also available from the Department.

6. I know I said there would be five websites, but I think the State Records NSW website must be mentioned again apart from its online indexes. This is the place to find out whether the records you want actually exist and have been archived. As the progressive indexing of their holding continues more and more records can be found by searching in Archives Investigator, their catalogue search facility. For example, probate files can be found by searching for the name and the word “death” as keywords (and using “All Words” not “Exact Phrase”). Their Archives in Brief series are very useful guides to the records they hold and are available online or in hardcopy in State Records Reading Rooms.

These are the NSW sites that I use most often in my research for myself and others. I would be very interested to hear from others if they disagree with anything on my list, or have others they would like to share.

Switch to our mobile site