What type of information can I find in police gazettes?
The police gazettes contain a wealth of information for family historians. The information found in the police gazettes varies from state to state but may include:
- convicts and criminals who have absconded from prison or their masters
- reports on criminal activities such as murder, arson, robbery, assault etc.
- criminals discharged from prison
- persons wanted by the police for criminal activities
- seamen and soldiers who have deserted
- appointments, promotions and resignations in the police force
- reports on missing friends and relatives.
Examples from 1883 Queensland Police Gazette
Attempt at Arson
“About 12:40 am on the 13th instant, a malicious attempt was made to burn the dwelling-house of James Johnson, Kennigo street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. An old bag was set on fire under the wall-plate, and some of the weather-boards had caught fire but were soon extinguished. 16th March 1883.”
“Peter Reilly is charged, on warrant issued by the Brisbane Bench, with deserting his wife Jane, Sherwood, on the 8th instant. Description: - An Irishman, about 55 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, slender build, short thin whiskers turning grey, dark-brown hair, round-shouldered, a farmer; wore brown overcoat, dark tweed trousers, striped crimean shirt, grey felt hat, elastic-side boots. 13th March 1883.”
“Robert Smith is charged, on warrant issued by the Townsville Bench, with deserting from the ship “Scottish Lassie”, Captain Kerr, at Cleveland Bay, on 30th ultimo. Description: - About 20 years of age, 5 feet 4 inches high, no whiskers, small red eyes, no beard, fair complexion, bandy-legged, sailor-like appearance. Supposed to have gone to Ross Island. 28th April 1883.”
How can I access the police gazettes?
SLQ hold copies of the Police Gazettes for Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. There are also are a number of indexes that will assist researchers to locate specific information. The CD versions are keyword searchable.
1867 – 1944 [CD-ROM]
|New South Wales||
1856 – 1862 [microfilm] (MFL 364.9944 199-)
1853 – 1870 [microfiche] (MFCS 364.9945)
1881 – 1947 [CD-ROM]
1861 – 1933 [CD-ROM]
1797 – 1810; 1828; 1830 – 1840 [microfilm] (MFSCA 364.941)
Indexes to the police gazettes
Queensland Police Gazette Index 1864-1874 [CD-ROM] QCFS 363.209943 2006
Victorian Police gazette consolidated index 1859 – 1863 [microfiche] MFC 364.9945 1992
Victorian Police gazette consolidated index 1864 - 1868[microfiche] MFC 364.9945 1998
Victorian police gazettes: criminals index, 1853-1858 [microfiche] MFC 364.309945 1997
Victoria deserters from ships index 1853 – 1880 [microfiche] MFC 929.3945 1996
Index of deserters of wives and children 1880 – 1890 (Victoria) [microfiche] MFC 346.994017 1999-
Army deserters from H.M. service [books - 2 volumes] PAM 929.3945 1988
The Deserter Index, 1828-1840 [CD-ROM] QCFS 929.341 1999 [Deserters from British Army units, Royal Marines, and the Honourable East India Company’s service. Extracted from Hue and Cry]
Missing friends in the Victoria Police Gazette [microfiche] MFC 929.3945 1995
Index to Tasmanians in the Victoria Police Gazette 1853–1893 [microfiche] MFC 929.3945 1997
Where else can I look for reports of crimes?
Reports of crimes can also be followed up in the local newspaper of the day. Newspapers can provide a great deal of information by reporting on court trials, inquests and executions. The State Library holds a large number of historical newspapers for Brisbane, regional Queensland and other states. Check the One Search online catalogue for details.
The State Library has some online newspaper databases, available at the library or from home through the website (log in from home if you are a Queensland resident, using your e-services card or QPL account).
Also search digitised historical Australian newspapers online via the National Library of Australia’s website.
Queensland criminal reports: 1860-1907 / [by Thomas Macleod] [CD-ROM] QCFS 636.201025 2008
It is a compilation of all criminal cases that were reported in the Supreme Court Reports Vol. 1-8 (1860-1881), the Queensland Law Journal and Notes of Cases Vol. I-XII (1881-1901) and the Queensland State Reports and Weekly Notes (1902-1907).
New South Wales Weekly Notes Compendium, 1884-1900 (Court Reports) [CD-ROM] QCFS 348.944043 2009
Summaries of court cases reported in NSW Weekly Notes. Individuals named as defendants or plaintiffs in a variety of cases - bankruptcy, probate, custody, libel, divorce as well as criminal cases.