An original Ticket of Leave, 1818

The Ticket of Leave was one of the key incentives to good behaviour within the convict system. It provided a measure of freedom after several years of acceptable conduct; most importantly permission for convicts to work for their own benefit.

State Records has many registers and official copies of Tickets of Leave issued, but examples of the actual tickets held by the convicts themselves are not often found. These items are clearly identified by their size and format, and the requirement that a convict had to carry the ticket at all times is evident in the obvious fold marks across the document.

Convict Robert Leach

Robert Leach, a groom, arrived on the Fortune in 1813 on a life sentence. He was first granted a Ticket of Leave by Governor Macquarie on 24 October 1818, and this original ticket has survived. It is believed to be the earliest example extant within the official records. Leach remained a convict for a further 27 years, until he was eventually granted a Conditional Pardon in 1845
This is in stark contrast to William Parr, a well-educated ‘gentleman convict’ who arrived on the same ship as Leach in 1813, was granted a ticket of leave soon after, and was subsequently pardoned and returned to England.
It is interesting to note that the initials ‘L M’ (Lachlan Macquarie) appear several times on Leach’s ticket. This is a good example of the ‘hands-on’ involvement of the Governor in the administration of the convict system.

Source: NRS 905: Colonial Secretary: Main series of letters received, 1826-1982 Letter No. 27/7218 [4/1941]

Transcript of the letter

27/7218 1 Augt 1827
Court House Liverpool
21 July 1827
Herewith we have the honor
to transmit to you the Ticket of Leave
of Robert Leach per ship Fortune (2)
which we have cancelled for repeated
Drunkeness and other Acts of Improper
We have the honor to be
Your Most Obedt Servants
Thos Moore JP
Pat Hill JP
The Hon Alex McLeay Esq
Colonial Secretary

Convict John Chave

Also included here is an extremely rare example of a ticket of leave (for John Chave) which had been torn up. While it was standard practice for a ticket of leave to be torn up when cancelled or when the recipient had become free, it is highly unusual for the pieces to have survived, as in this instance.

Source: NRS 905: Colonial Secretary: Main series of letters received, 1826-1982 Letter No. 27/3579/2 [4/1928]

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