Certificate of freedom

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Australian Colonial Certificate of Freedom[edit]

A Certificate of Freedom was a government issued document given to a convict in one of the Australian penal colonies at the end of the convict's sentence. This stated that the ex convict had been restored "to all the rights and privileges of free subjects" effectively now a free person and could seek out employment or leave the colony.

Certificates of Freedom were introduced in 1810 and were generally granted to convicts, upon application to the Governor, who had served their 7, 10, or 14-year sentence.[1] Convicts who had received a life sentence could receive a pardon but not a Certificate of Freedom.

There were three classifications given to convicts that were to be given greater freedoms. The first level was the Ticket of Leave, this still imposed significant restriction upon the individual and could be issued after at least half the original sentence was served. After the entire original sentence was served a 'certificate of freedom' may be issued no remaining restrictions upon the individual. A third category was a conditional pardon or full pardon, these were issued to prisoners who had been sentenced to a life sentence.

The information contained on the certificate usually noted the date, persons name, aliases (if any), ship on which they were transported, year of arrival, when tried and their sentence in years. Certificates from 1827 to 1867 also give native place, calling, year of birth, physical description and sometimes Ticket of leave information.

Certificates comprise two components, the certificate proper[2] was issued to the person named and it was mandatory for the person to carry that document on their person at all times. The second component was the 'butt'[3] this was the official copy and was kept by the Government on file. The certificates proper are quite rare as they were in constant use by the owner, the 'butts' are still retained in archive records and are available for researchers.

A variation on the Certificate of Freedom was the Colonial Certificate of Freedom, these related to sentences received for offenses committed after arrival in the colony.[4]

There were approximately 40,000 Certificates of Freedom issued by the Colony of New South Wales. Tasmania and Western Australia also received convicts and had issued Certificates of Freedom.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Index to Certificates of Freedom". NSW Government. Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "Certificate of Freedom". NSW State Library. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Certificate Butt". NSW State Records Office. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  4. ^ "Colonial Certificate of Freedom". church of Latter Day Saints. 2/1/2012. Retrieved 24 December 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)