New South Wales, Australia Genealogy

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Guide to New South Wales, Australia ancestry, family history and genealogy birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

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New South Wales

Background Information[edit | edit source]

New South Wales is a state in south eastern Australia. The capital is Sydney. In 1770 Captain James Cook claimed the eastern coast of Australia for Britain naming it New South Wales. A convict settlement was planted at Sydney Cove (later simply Sydney) which became the mother colony for Australia and New Zealand. Colonial New South Wales developed with the wool industry in the 19th century achieving responsible self government in 1855 and becoming one of the founding six states of the federal Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.

Getting started with New South Wales research[edit | edit source]

Family History Research can be done at the State Library and Mitchell Library on Macquarie Street, Sydney just off Martin Place. Be sure to take some ID that shows your current address so that you can get a State Library Card that will allow you to use the computers anywhere in the building. The card gives residents of NSW access to online resources from home.

A variety of New South Wales record collections and related information is available at:

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Jurisdictions[edit | edit source]

For most purposes, New South Wales is now a single jurisdiction but has been subdivided over time into different districts for different purposes: land administration, legal, electoral. local government, and so on.

The first British settlers brought with them as part of the common law of England units of administration - counties, hundreds, parishes - which had developed over centuries in Britain to form a framework which simply failed to work in the new geography and society of New South Wales. Fifty years after the arrival of the First Fleet, the colony was given a new legal beginning: the law of New South Wales (and Van Dieman's Land) was to be the law of England as it was on the 28th July 1828.[1] Further, subsequent statute law passed by the Parliament at Westminster was only to apply to the colony if it was expressly stated to apply or because of the legal doctrine of paramountcy. Since 1823, the local colonial legislators had been empowered to make laws 'not repugnant to the Laws of England, but consistent therewith so far as the circumstances of the colony would admit'.[2] As a result, local colonial authorities would often begin with an English model and adapt it to make it appropriate to local circumstances.

Counties and Parishes[edit | edit source]

From the earliest days of settlement after the arrival of the First Fleet, the area around Sydney Cove and Port Jackson was called the County of Cumberland. Other counties were proclaimed as the limits of settlement expanded until 1825 when Royal Instructions ordered a general survey of the colony of New South Wales and its division into counties and parishes.

The present State of New South Wales remains divided into 141 counties each with an area of about 40 square miles (the original survey measure). In turn, these are subdivided into 7,459 parishes. These counties and parishes have significance for land ownership records and in legislative instruments but have almost none of the other significance that an English county or parish had and has.

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Regions and Places[edit | edit source]

  • Blue Mountains
  • Central Coast
  • Central NSW
  • Far North Coast
  • Hunter Region
  • Illawarra
  • Lord Howe Island
  • New England
  • North Coast
  • Riverina
  • Snowy Mountains
  • South Coast
  • Sydney

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Australian Courts Act 1828 (9 Geo 4 c 83) (repealed).
  2. New South Wales Act 1823 (4 Geo IV c 96).