Example of a Ticket of Leave

You may find that not all information about a convict is recorded on the Ticket of Leave Butts 1827-1867, particularly for earlier records.

There were consequences for not producing a Ticket of Leave or Conditional/Absolute Pardon, including being considered a Prisoner of the Crown and returned to Government Service.

A Ticket of Leave or a Conditional Pardon was sometimes offered as a reward to convicts, usually in exchange for information that would lead to the apprehension of somebody for a crime.

Convict uprising at Castle Hill, 1804
Convict uprising at Castle Hill, 1804, nla.obj-135226428

Convicts were normally sentenced to seven or 14 year terms but others had sentences ranging from 10 years to life. About half the convicts were transported for seven years, and a quarter were sentenced for 14 years.

If they were well behaved, convicts were not usually required to serve out their full term and could apply for a:

  • Ticket of Leave
  • Certificate of Freedom
  • Conditional Pardon; or
  • an Absolute Pardon.

With good conduct, a convict serving a seven year term usually qualified for a Ticket of Leave after four or five years, whilst those serving 14 years could expect to serve between six to eight years. 'Lifers' could qualify for their Conditional Pardon after 10 or 12 years.

A convict was required to carry their Ticket of Leave at all times. Persons neglecting to produce their Ticket of Leave, or their Conditional or Absolute Pardon at time of muster would be considered Prisoners of the Crown and returned to Government Service.

Indexed online

State Archives & Records New South Wales Convict Index (Free to search)

The following records are included on the State Archives & Records New South Wales Convict Index:

  • Certificates of Freedom, 1823-1869

  • Tickets of Leave, Certificates of Emancipation and Pardons, 1810-19

  • Tickets of Leave, 1810-1875 

  • Tickets of Leave Passports, 1835-1869

  • Recommendations for Absolute and Conditional Pardons, 1826-1856

  • Convict Pardons, 1791-1873 

Digitised online

Both Ancestry Library edition and Findmypast can be accessed via the Library's eResources inside the National Library of Australia building. Most public libraries throughout Australia also provide free onsite access to both subscription services, check with your local library before you visit. 


Tickets of leave butts, 1824-1867. Indexed and fully digitised Ticket of Leave butts are avalable on Ancestry via the Library's eResources - visit our eResources portal and search for this resource under the Browse eResources tab.

New South Wales, Australia, Convict Registers of Conditional and Absolute Pardons, 1788-1870. Indexed and fully digitised pardons are available on Ancestry via the Library's eResources - visit our eResources portal and search for this resource under the Browse eResources tab.


This resource is only accessible inside the Library building. Check with your local public library to see if they provide access.

Australia Convict Tickets Of Leave 1824-1874. Indexed and fully digitised Ticket of Leave butts are available on Findmypast, accessible in the Library building. Visit our eResources portal and search for this resource under the Browse eResources tab. 

Australia Convict Conditional and Absolute Pardons 1791-1867. Indexed and fully digitised pardons can be accessed via Findmypast, accessible within the Library building. Use the eResources portal and search for this resource under the Browse eResources tab. 

Public Records Office Victoria

Register of convicts 1842-1854Browsable (not indexed) records of convict assignment. Some records indicate the date an assigned convict received a Ticket of leave, Conditional/Absolute Pardon, or Certificate of Freedom.

Microfilmed and other materials

Tickets of Leave Index & Butts 
New South Wales

Find the name of the convict in the index to Convicts index 1791-1873 and note the year, index number and citation. Use this information to view the Ticket of Leave Butts 1827-1867 on microfilm in the Library's Newspapers and Family History zone. If you can't make it to the Library, you can Ask a Librarian.

Ticket of leave registers, occurence books and prison earnings [microform index]
Western Australia
This index has been compiled from the original volumes held at the J.S. Battye Library of West Australian History - Accession No. 1386. 

Miscellaneous pardons, 1847-1889. Document - work of female convicts
Tasmania, Convict Department
Record of prisoners tried before the Courts of Quarter Sessions in Van Diemen's Land, commencing April 1836 /Tasmania, Convict Department [microform]


A Tcket of Leave allowed convicts to work for themselves provided that they remained in a specified area, reported regularly to local authorities and attended divine worship every Sunday, if possible. They could not leave the colony.


A certificate of freedom was issued at the completion of a convict's sentence, as proof he/she was a free person. They were free to travel anywhere, and could return to the United Kingdom (if they could afford it!).


A conditional pardon allowed convicts with life sentences freedom of the colony, but they were not allowed to return to the UK.


An absolute pardon gave a 'lifer' complete remittance of sentence. The convict had freedom of the colony and could return to the UK.

Convicts could collect their Absolute or Conditional Pardons from the Principal Superintendent of Convicts' Office, or from the the district clerk's office.

Not sure where to start?