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state library of queensland

Exploring family history documents: electoral rolls and early birth registers

By Gaby Asenjo, Library Tecnician | 23 May 2016

Do you know who was the first white child born in ‘Queensland’?

Amity Moreton Thompson was the first white child born in ‘Queensland’ at Humpybong on the Redcliffe Peninsula, Moreton Bay, on Tuesday 21 September 1824. Amity’s parents were Robert and Mary Thompson. Robert Thompson was a Scottish Corporal with the 40th Regiment, who came to Moreton Bay in 1824 to guard the first group of convicts in the settlement and to help establish a new colony in northern New South Wales. The Thompson family decided to give their first Australian born child a significant name by choosing the name of the vessel on which they sailed from Sydney to Moreton Bay, ‘Amity’, and part of the name of where she was born, ‘Moreton’.

State Library of Queensland holds a copy of her original birth registration on microfilm, and it can be accessed easily by using our records from the State Record Office of New South Wales.  It is a delightful and significant hand written historical document of the first born white ‘Queenslander’, available here at State Library to see for free.

Gaby at microform machine viewing the record of Amity Moreton Thompson on the early birth register. Image by SLQ staff.

What can you find at State Library, and how you can find 20th Century voters in Queensland?

Information can be obtained through different State Library resources, such as Brisbane newspapers, CD-ROMs, microfiches and Findmypast and/or Ancestry (Library edition) databases.

Today we concentrated on searching selected Queensland electoral rolls on CD-ROMs (QCFS 324.64) 1903 to 1959 because of their flexible searching options.

Three major searches we can do when searching these particular electoral rolls on CD-ROM are:

  • locating all the voters in a street before they appear in the post office directories when the place is outside the inner suburbs of Brisbane
  • finding the occupations and associated roles of voters on the electoral lists
  • identifying the married name of a woman outside the limit of public marriage indexes if the name is unusual.

Flexible search elements to use include:

  • minimal information
  • word stem with asterisk*
  • 'anywhere in the field' option.

Do you want to find all voters in a specific street for a particular year?  I was impressed with this.

  • Search street name only; put nothing before or after it
  • Use ‘anywhere in field’ option
  • Find the subdivision and division for the particular street, then refine the search using them.

Do you know the difference between the terms ‘householder’ and ‘freeholder’ on pre-1900 electoral rolls?

These terms appear on pre-1900 Queensland electoral rolls when eligibility to be on the roll depended on a property qualification.

Senior Archivist, Jane Wassell, at Queensland State Archives explained that according to the 1867 Elections Act, the qualifications for electors are described as:

FREEHOLD estate - in possession situate in the district for which his vote is to be given of the clear value of one hundred pounds sterling money above all charges and encumbrances …
HOUSEHOLDER - being within such district occupying any house, warehouse, counting-house, office, shop or other building of the clear annual value of ten pounds sterling money and having occupied the same for six calendar months before such registration.

These are just a few of the many documents State Library holds that allow you to see firsthand the records identifying our ancestors, whether they are convicts, soldiers, immigrants or landholders. We can trace them now, not only by looking at original sources on microform or in digital format, but we can use flexible ways of searching, bringing new information to light much more quickly.


Check State Library's family history web pages, which have family history guides, indexes and a great collection of useful websites for family historians. Visit us at State Library on Level 3 or Ask us.

Gaby Asenjo

Library Technician, Visitor Services

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