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Ticket of Leave Regulations (at various times)

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Tickets of Leave
(Circular to the Magistrates)
Colonial Secretaries office Sydney, 1st January 1830

SIR, - The distinction between the several forms of Remission of Sentence granted to Prisoners of the Crown, and the nature of the indulgence which they are respectively intended to bestow, appearing to be imperfectly understood – I am directed by His Excellency the Governor to request your attention to the following statement:

  1. An Absolute Pardon, when issued under the Great Seal of England, but not before, restores the Individual to all the rights of a free subject, in every part of His Majesty’s dominions, from the date of instrument.

  2. A Conditional Pardon, when approved by His Majesty through the Secretary of State, but not before, restores the Rights of Freedom, from the date of instrument, within the colony. But it bestows no power of leaving the colony, and no rights whatever beyond its limits  … this changed in 1846

This and the former, when once confirmed, according to law, cannot be revoked: and the holders are of course equally empowered to pursue their lawful occupation in any part of the country, as if they had never been convicted.

  1. A Ticket of Leave is a permission to the individual to employ himself for his own benefit, and to acquire property, (this did change)  on condition of residing within the district therein specified; of presenting himself and producing his Ticket before the Magistrates at the periods prescribed by the regulations; and of attending Divine Worship weekly if performed within a reasonable distance. But he is not allowed to remove to another district without the express sanction of Government entered on the face of his Ticket; the Ticket itself is liable to be resumed at any time at the pleasure of the Governor; and, in that case, the individual reverts to the situation of a prisoner of the Crown in every respect.

  2. A Ticket of Exemption from Government Labour differs from a Ticket of Leave, in conferring no permission for the individual to employ himself for his own benefit, or to acquire property, but simply the privilege of residing until the next 31st December, with the person therein named, generally a relation, in some specific district, and no other.  In requiring the attendance at Muster and Devine Worship, it is as strict as a Ticket of Leave, and, like it, is liable to be resumed at any time by His Excellency’s order; it is also void, if not renewed on the 1st of January, every year, and the holder then becomes liable to be treated as a Prisoner of the Crown, unlawfully at large.

    As it is evidently of importance that the regulations with regard to these individuals should be strictly enforced, and their residence and employment always known – and as numerous instances have been detected of persons who hold the inferior, pretending the superior indulgence. Also of their residing at a great distance from the prescribed districts, and merely attending on the appointed muster days – I am further directed by His Excellency to recommend your adopting the following rules, with a view to prevent the above-mentioned and other similar irregularities: viz-

    1. That a register be immediately opened of every person residing in your neighbourhood, under the remission of sentence of any kind, noting the same accordingly.

    2. That every change of district in Tickets of Leave and Exemption Tickets sanctioned by the Government, be carefully entered in the same register, both of individuals allowed to come from other districts into yours, and of those permitted to remove elsewhere. With this view the proper particulars will always be duly communicated to you by the Principal Superintendent of Convicts.

    3. That care be taken to cause every instrument of remission in the first instance, and afterwards every Ticket of Leave and Exemption Ticket, to be actually produced to you on the prescribed days, and marked with your initials, in order that it may serve as a proof at any future time how far the holder had complied with the regulations.

    4. That measures be adopted from time to time to ascertain that every individual is actually resident in the stated place, and has visible means of obtaining an honest livelihood.

    5. That every breach of the regulations or other serious offence be reported to the Government (though the Principle  Superintendent of Convicts) together with a recommendation that the indulgence may be either suspended for a certain limited time, or totally cancelled, as the circumstances may appear to you to require; and accompanied, in the latter case, by the instrument itself, in order to its being destroyed, if such be His Excellency’s decision.

Qualifications Order 1st January 1827

Prisoners transported for any of the following periods will be considered eligible to hold a Ticket of Leave under the stipulations hereafter specified: viz-

Transports for 7 years having served 4 years with one, or 5 years with 2 masters

Transports for 14 years, having served 6 years with one, 8 years with two, or 10 years with 3 masters,

Transports for Life, having served 8 years with one, 10 years with 2, or 12 years with 3 masters

Prisoners will be considered eligible, though the number of masters whom they have served may exceed the number above specified, provided it shall clearly appear that their removal from their places was not occasioned by misconduct.

Government Notice, 30th January 1827

The Governor is desirous that the most ample latitude should be given to the regulations, so that the prisoners who have endeavoured to atone for their former offences may enjoy the full benefit of their good conduct, and that the example thus held out may stimulate others to merit the like indulgence.

The intention of the foregoing is not that a prisoner, who has been in the number of services mentioned in each case above, is to be allowed a Ticket of Leave in the same time as if he had only served one master; but, that although he exceed the largest number there specified, he may nevertheless obtain this indulgence if the removals have not been caused by his own misconduct.

In calculating the number of services a prisoner has passed through, and estimating how far they have been caused by himself, the following rules are to be observed: viz –

  1. A transfer from private service, either to another private individual or to Government, is reckoned as one change, but from Government to private service is not so reckoned. It is therefore evidently of importance not only to specify the number of services a prisoner has passed through, but to state them in the same order in which he entered them.

  2. If the reason given for the transfer be merely that the master “had no further occasion for him” or if “no cause” be assigned, it is considered as a proof that the prisoner has not exerted himself, or made himself sufficiently useful to induce his master to retain him, and his Ticket is postponed accordingly.

  3. But in cases of mechanics of particular trades; of persons incapacitated from labour by sickness; the death of the master; his quitting the Colony; or other circumstances in which it is evident that the prisoner has been transferred solely for his good qualities or peculiar usefulness, or for reasons which it was physically impossible to control, the change of service is not allowed to operate to his prejudice.

It is plain therefore, that all such reasons ought to be distinctly stated.

Government Order 1st January 1827

Any prisoner who shall apprehend two runaways, having been absent not less than 48 hours from the service of their employees, or one bushranger or person guilty of felony, or who shall bring to justice a fellow-servant who has robbed his master, shall be allowed a deduction of six months from the above period;  and any prisoner who will bring to conviction a receiver of stolen property, shall be allowed a deduction of twelve months from his period of  service; the conviction of two receivers shall be equivalent to two years service; and bringing to justice three receivers of stolen property; shall qualify a prisoner immediately to receive a Ticket of Leave.

The period of six months, on account of the services above specified, will be extended in proportion to any greater number of the said description of offenders who may be brought to justice.

In stating the claims for these extraordinary services, it is of importance that the different classes of offenders should be accurately distinguished, whether “Runaways, having been absent not less than 48 hours,” or Bushrangers” etc so as to enable the Government to ascertain exactly the degree of indulgence to which the applicant is entitled.

Government Order 1st January 1827 

Ticket of Leave men, who habitually neglect to attend Divine Worship, will be deprived of their Tickets. Those who reside in the towns, or within 5 miles of a place affording them an opportunity of performing their religious duties, and shall neglect to attend, are to be reported by the Magistrates or other persons to the Colonial Secretary, when sue notice will be taken of their conduct.

His Excellency the Governor is pleased to direct that persons charged with the Superintendence of Convicts in the Towns of:

  • Sydney
  • Parramatta
  • Windsor
  • Liverpool
  • Newcastle
  • And other places where Government establishments exist, will make a point of mustering all convicts holding Tickets of Leave and Tickets of Exemption, as well after as before proceeding to church on Sundays, as a more certain means of insuring their attendance during Divine Service.

His Excellency further directs that this Order be read the first Sunday in every month to these men, so that they may clearly understand that any one who shall absent himself from church will be immediately deprived of his Ticket and the Superintendent will be held strictly responsible to report any such individual accordingly.

Government Notice 15th February 1827

A person will be eligible to hold a Ticket of Leave under the present regulations, although he may have committed an offence and have even been punished, provided that subsequently to the commission of such offence he shall have conducted himself in a meritorious manner for the period required to render him eligible for that indulgence.

In compliance with this provision, the probation of each applicant (except those who have been sentenced to penal settlements) is to commence from the date of his last punishment. But if the fault, for which that punishment was inflicted, shall appear of so venial a nature, as to render an entire recommencement of the probation too severe a penalty for it, the Magistrates will use their discretion, by withholding their recommendation for two, three, six months, or such a time as the circumstances of the case may appear to them to require; taking care, however, to specify on the face of the abstract, when the application is finally recommended, that they have done so.

But no prisoner, while under sentence to a penal settlement, is to be considered as in any way eligible for this indulgence.  If his said sentence has been strictly regular, his probation will commence on the expiration of that sentence. But where the term of re-transportation has been left indefinite, and in the cases of individuals who have been permitted to return from the penal settlements, under the proclamations of His Excellency the Governor, dated 8th June 1826, the probation is to be considered as commencing either at the end of three years from the date of passing the colonial sentence, or on the date of the said proclamation, whichever falls the latest.


Colonial Secretary’s Office Sydney, 1st November 1831.

The regulations for granting Tickets of Leave appearing to have been misunderstood in numerous instances, is has been thought advisable to publish the following summary and explanation of them, with instructions for filling up the monthly lists or abstracts of applicants recommended:

Male Convicts:

Applications for Tickets of Leave, in the Annexed Form A, are to be made periodically (once a month) to the Bench, to consist of not less than three Magistrates of the district in which the applicant is employed: and the Magistrates will notify in their respective districts the period which they may fix on as most convenient for receiving these applications.

  • Applications from persons in the district of Sydney are to be transmitted to the Office of the Principal Superintendent of Convicts.
  • Should the master of any prisoner applying for a Ticket of Leave consider the applicant undeserving the indulgence, he should state the circumstances in writing to the Bench. A Certificate of good conduct is not, however, to be considered indispensable to a servant’s obtaining a Ticket of Leave.
  • His Excellency the Governor having been pleased to direct that the fee of two shillings and eight pence which has been usually received from convicts obtaining Tickets of Leave are requested to communicate personally to the individuals who receive Tickets of Leave, that they are not to pay any fee whatsoever.
  • There being also reason to apprehend that money has been exacted from individuals under pretence of obtaining indulgences from them, and facilitating their applications, His Excellency further requests that the Magistrates will take an opportunity of guarding individuals against such imposition and will report when any person shall be detected in practices of this nature, in order that be may be dismissed from employment.
  • Many complaints having been made of the delay that takes place in answering applications for Tickets of Leave, His Excellency the Governor directs it to be notified, that the List of Applicants may be sent in three months earlier than was allowed by the Government Order of 1 January 1827, No. 1, so as to admit of their being fully examined, and the indulgence punctually granted to such persons as may be found eligible.
  • At the same time, it is proper to point out, that much of the delay complained of has been occasioned partly by the non-communication of the replies transmitted to the Magistrates, and partly by the recommendation of prisoners, who had been recently punished, or were otherwise disqualified. It appears, from a return recently prepared, that one-forth of the whole number of applicants submitted has been necessarily rejected as being inconsistent with the regulations.
  • His Excellency, therefore requests that the Magistrates will be particularly careful, both to exclude every applicant not really entitled, and to apprise each individual of the result of his application, which as little delay as possible after the same has been communicated to the Bench, in the usual manner, by the Principal Superintendent of Convicts

Government Order 30th May 1831

It having become necessary, in order to reduce the expense of the Police Establishment, to revise the present system, His Excellency the Governor is pleased to order the following regulations to be established: viz.

  1. Prisoners of the Crown shall be employed as Constables
  2. Every Prisoner who shall be so employed, shall receive a Ticket of Leave at the end of three years service, provided the Magistrates under whom he has been employed, shall report that he deserves that indulgence.
  3. At the expiration of five years further service, that is from the date of his receiving a Ticket of Leave, every prisoner shall, on producing a Certificate from the Magistrates as above, receive a Conditional Pardon.
  4. No man will be admitted into the Establishment, unless he be able bodied, active and intelligent; nor unless he produces satisfactory testimonials of good conduct; nor will his services entitling him to a Ticket of Leave commence until he shall have been two years in the Colony, although he may have been previously appointed a constable.
  5. Misconduct during the period of a prisoner's service as a constable, will deprive him of all claim to the advantages held out; and it will be the duty of the Magistrates immediately to report to the Colonial Secretary, for the Governors information, whenever a constable shall misbehave or become unfit for the duty of his position
  6. The Constables will be allowed pay, while employed as above, at the rate of one shilling and nine pence a day, They are to provide themselves with food and clothing.
  7. They will, of course, be entitled to the usual rewards for apprehending runaways etc.
  8. These Constables will be removed occasionally from one district to another; and will not be able to cultivate land for themselves or others, or engage in business or employ themselves in any manner not immediately connected with their duty.
  9. Any person who shall employ any of these or any other paid Constable, contrary to their duty, will be made responsible for the same as far as circumstances may permit.
  10. The Governor trusts, for the important nature of the boon now held out, that the services of an efficient body of Police will be ensured; and that they, with the zealous co-operation of the Magistrates in the arrangements now promulgated, will carry on the duty of the several districts at a much less expense to the public than hitherto.
  11. The new organisation of the Mounted Police, which has proved the means of re-establishing the tranquility of the country, will render it unnecessary to employ the Constabulary in the pursuit of Bushrangers, should they again disturb the Colony, and a much smaller number of Constables will consequently be employed. The arrangements which have been made already enabled the Government to dispense with the services of the sixty five Constables and a further reduction will shortly be carried into effect.

By His Excellency’s Command
Alexander McLeay

Government Order  28th May 1830

His Excellency the Governor directs it to be notified :-

  1. That although authorised by the 13th paragraph of the Government Order of 1st January 1827. No 1 to grant passes for one month to prisoners holding Tickets of Leave, and if not abused, to repeat this indulgence on some subsequent occasion.  Magistrates have no authority to renew passes from time to time to the holders of Tickets of Leave, or to grant passes under circumstances to other prisoners of the Crown, excepting only their own servants.
  2. That such passes are not to be granted in future for more than 14 days, without the express permission of the Governor; and that all passes are to be made out according to the annexed Form B, and to have the description of the party distinctly written on the back; it being of importance that it should be known whether the individual who receives a pass is proceeding on the business or to the destination for which it was granted; and all Magistrates, Constables etc are hereby required to apprehend and report to the Principal Superintendent of Convicts, any Ticket of Leave man, or other prisoner of the Crown, proceeding in a different direction to that for which the pass was granted.
  3. That any prisoner holding a Ticket of Leave or Ticket of Exemption from Government Labour, who shall be discovered to be out of his prescribed district more than 14 days in a year, without the special permission of the Government, will immediately forfeit his Ticket, notwithstanding any pass with which he may be furnished.
  4. That in order to prevent the practice which has obtained of individuals residing in one district and attending the periodical Musters in another, all holders of Tickets of Leave and Tickets of Exemption are to be mustered once a month by the Magistrates of the respective districts, who are to appoint certain places and days for the purpose, of which the holders of such Tickets are to make themselves acquainted by application to the Magistrate nearest to their residence respectively; and if any such person fail to attend at the place and time so appointed, he or she shall be immediately  of his or her Ticket.
  5. That any person who shall grant a pass to his assigned servant, at variance with the present Regulation, will be noted in the proper office as being not allowed to receive assigned servants in future and the name of such persons will be published in the Gazette as having forfeited his claim to indulgence from the Government.  Magistrates and other persons, who may have been granted passes to Ticket of Leave men, or to their assigned servants, are requested to take the necessary steps for immediately recalling the same.  The above is to be read and explained to men holding Tickets of Leave and Tickets of Exemption on the days of Muster.

Circular to the Magistrates 21st October 1831

With reference to the Government Order of 27th August 1830 No. 10, respecting the Sunday Muster both before and after Devine Service, of prisoners holding Tickets of Leave and of Exemption, in the Towns therein mentioned-

I am directed by His Excellency the Governor to acquaint you, that is has been represented that this Muster is altogether neglected in places where there is no Resident Magistrate; and to request that you will call upon the Constables under your direction every Monday, and on the days after Good Friday and Christmas Day, to report the absentees from the Muster in question.

I am also directed to inform you, it is to be understood that attendance of the prisoners alluded to is required as well on the two Festivals above mentioned, as on the Sabbath day, although not so specified in the Government Order in question.


Government Order 1st January 1827 

Prisoners in the immediate employ of Government will be considered eligible to receive a Ticket of Leave under these regulations, the same as those in the service of individuals.  In the event of Government requiring their services after they have received their Tickets of Leave, they will be allowed wages according to their qualifications during the periods they may be retained.  Holding a Ticket of Leave for a period of 6 years will be a recommendation to the individuals receiving a Condition Pardon.


The mode of applying for Tickets of Leave, and the rules for granting them to female convicts, are in all respects exactly the same as detailed above with regard to Males except in the period of probation, as shown by the following extracts from the Government Order of 17th March 1829. No. 10 and a circular letter addressed to the Magistrates on 4th September 1829; viz:

With the view to encouraging good behaviour among female convicts, His Excellency the Governor has been pleased to direct that the existing Regulations relative to the granting of Tickets of Leave shall be modified with respect to them, and that they be allowed that indulgence after the following periods of uninterrupted good conduct in service, in the married state, or as monitresses in the factory:  viz:-

A female under sentence for 7 years, after 2 years
For 14 years, after 3 years
And for Life, after 4 years

Women returned to the first class of the factory will not be considered as having forfeited their claim to a Ticket of Leave, as a return to this class implies that the individual has not been guilty of any fault.

Circular Letter 11th September 1829

At the instance of the Board of Management of the Female Factory, Parramatta, it is recommended that women sent to the factory for pregnancy, when not living with their husbands, may be sentenced to the second class.

If this precaution be not observed, the circumstances of bearing illegitimate children will be rendered a qualification for obtaining a Ticket of Leave; and in the cases of women under sentence for 7 years, will frequently entitle them to that indulgence while residing in the factory in consequence of their confinement.

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