The information given falls into two parts: that relating to the convict's history before arrival, and the details of his career in the colony. The former details include (normally), offence, date and place of trial, sentence, gaol report (i.e., the British gaol), hulk report, whether married; the last three begin to appear from 1816, and by 1821 a statement of relatives and religion is added. Also recorded here is the convict's own statement of his crime, which was taken by personal questioning on board ship before disembarkation and which usually expands the information formally recorded of the offence The information contained in these "confessions" (the word is used in 1826) varies greatly, but often includes particulars of previous offences, connections and way of life.
The information of conduct after arrival consists chiefly of offences which are recorded on a standard pattern: date of trial, place of convict's employment or name of his master, charge, sentence, magistrate. Instances of good conduct are sometimes recorded, as are the grant of emancipations; if death occurred while the convict was on strength, it is noted
|System of Arrangement:
The entries are arranged by number, which during this period was assigned as follows: all convicts whose surname began with the same letter were numbered from 1, chronologically by date of arrival (expect that many anomalies occurred in the period before the entering of the registers was brought up to date), up to the end of the assignment period; thus there is a series of numbers for each letter of the alphabet. The names are in alphabetical order only by the initial, and those arriving by a given ship are normally to be found together.