Alt banner image

Expert Q&A: Christine Yeats answers your family history questions

For our Expert Q&A Thursday, March 7 we had Christine Yeats to discuss convict transportation, immigration, gaol records, hospital and asylum records, and orphan schools. Thanks again to Christine for giving us all the benefit of her time and expertise.

Christine Yeats was the Manager of Public Access at State Records NSW. She is on the Council of the Royal Australian Historical Society and additionally currently holds many positions within the history and archival sector: Vice President of the Professional Historians Association (NSW); Vice President of the Randwick and District Historical Society; Treasurer of the NSW Branch of the Australian Society of Archivists and NSW Liaison Officer, UNESCO Memory of the World Committee.

Please find the transcript of the Q&A and links below.

Don’t forget our Expert Q&As happen every Thursday night on the Inside History Magazine facebook page

When: NSW – ACT – VIC – TAS: 8:30-9:30pm AEDT | QLD: 7:30-8:30pm | WA: 5:30-6:30pm | NT: 7:00-8:00pm | SA: 8:00-9:00pm | Weekly on Thursdays nights!

Christine Yeats’ top tips for family history research:

  1. Do your genealogical homework by checking out what else was happening in the time your ancestors were living (it will add to their stories).
  2. Do start from the present and work backwards.
  3. Do obtain birth, death and marriage certificates or transcriptions.
  4. Don’t rely on online index entries.
  5. Do refer to published family histories and online family trees but
  6. never assume anything – always check the facts for yourself.
  7. Do your research from the records and original sources.
  8. Do record your findings.

Summary of links from the Q&A:



Transcript of Expert Q&A – Christine Yeats 

Our Expert Q&A with Christine Yeats  starts in 30 minutes at 8:30pm AEDT on this page. Tonight we’ll be discussing convict transportation, immigration, gaol records, hospital and asylum records, and orphan schools. Please ask your questions in a comment below and Christine will answer in a following comment.

Comment: IHM: Welcome everyone, thanks for joining us. Please welcome Christine to tonight’s Q&A.
A. IHM: Questions received earlier this week will be repeated in a comment on this post, for Christine to answer in a following comment.
A. Christine: Hi everyone, great to be here!
A. Anne: G’day Christine

Q. From Nichole: I found some convicts in my family tree in the last 12 months… One person I can’t find much information on is a Edward Wickham from England came to VDL… Where can I find some info on Wickham family?
A. Christine: @Nichole Have you checked the index to Tasmanian convicts on Linc Tasmania? This will be your best starting point for your research. There are a number of other indexes on the Linc website but it’s always best to start with the record of the convict’s arrival and go from there. Depending on when they arrived in Tasmania it might also be possible to search some of the UK census records.
A. IHM: Hi Nichole, here’s the link to the Linc Tasmania – Index to Tasmanian Convicts ::
A. Nichole: Thank you for the information 🙂

Q. From Anne: How much information is accessible from the Protestant Children’s Home? Anything other than admission details?
A. Christine: @Anne A good place to start would be SRNSW Archives In Brief 59 which lists the various orphan schools including the Protestant Orphan School. These are available for research at the SRNSW Reading Room at 133 O’Connell St Kingswood.
A. IHM: Hi Anne, here’s the link to the State Records NSW Archives In Brief 59 – Child care and protection ::
A. Anne: Yes I have checked them and got a copy of the admission details, I was just wondering if any thing else is available.
A. Christine: @Anne The only other possibility is that there might be info in the Colonial Secretary records. We have occasionally found details of children being placed in government care – the best bet is to go to SRNSW Kingswood to see if there is anything further. The only other possibility is that very occasionally there are references in police gazettes to children being placed in care. These are available on Ancestry.
A. IHM: Hi Anne, here’s the link to the New South Wales, Australia, Police Gazettes, 1854-1930 on ::
A. Anne: Thanks Christine They were admitted 1877 and 1888.
A. Anne: They were admitted because their father was dead, but I can find a death record for him
A. Anne: They were on the Mudgee/Gulgong area 1870-1875 but no record of their father being a miner
A. Christine: @Anne you could also have a look at the online index for the Benevolent Asylum in case the children were placed there before going into the Protestant Orphan School. There is also a useful website on Hill End & Tambaroora and which may have some info to help you if they were in the Mudgee area – In the end I would suggest you do try the Col Sec correspondence.
A. Anne: Thanks Christine I will try those links 🙂

Q. From Tracey: Trying to find a Philip McCormack comming to Australia before 1834 – married a Susannah/Susan Jackson and they had a child John McCormick – I have found info about John and his family – but can’t seem to find parents – Where would I start to look – unfortunately don’t have a paid Ancestry account. Thanks.
A. Christine: @Tracey Your best bet would be to go to the FamilySearch Index to Bounty Immigrants from 1828 to 1842. Its free and gives quite a lot of information. From there you can consult the actual records of the shipping arrival which are part of the Archives Resources Kit. The records are held at the SRNSW Reading Room on microfilm and are also part of the Archives Resources Kit. Have a look also at the SRNSW website and search on Index to Bounty Immigrants.
A. IHM: Hi Tracey, here’s the link to the FamilySearch Index to Bounty Immigrants :: | and the State Records NSW Community Access points ::

Q. From Sharn: I found in the Qld State Archive Reformatory Schools records, ( Westbrook School) that my g g grandfather, John Nargar, was ‘sentenced’ in Brisbane with being ‘neglected’ and sent to spend 5 years on a hulk moored in the Brisbane River. He had been in an orphanage according to the record in 1876. How can I find which orphanage he had been in and for how long? He was born in Toowoomba in 1864.
A. Christine: Hi Sharn, this is a fairly complicated one, I’ll have a look at the QLD archives website and I’ll get back to you. In the meantime have a think about checking sources like the QLD Police Gazettes because they sometimes list children who’ve been taken into care.
A. Sharn: Thank you Christine. I hadn’t thought of Police Gazettes for children. I very much appreciate your help.

Q. From Kelly: Where can I get more information about a person who returned from Hong Kong to Australia post WWII. He was a civilian POW and I would like to know when he returned.
A. Christine: @Kelly I suggest you contact the National Archives of Australia, there are a number of ways you can search the collection and this is the most likely place to find the info you’re seeking.
A. IHM: Hi Kelly, here’s the link to the National Archives of Australia :: | Also try Tim Sherratt’s Archives Viewer ::

Q. From Mark: I am wanting to find information on the Broadmarsh Convict Farm, which was established circa 1845. The commandant was James William Henry Walch, who is my main point of interest.
A. Christine: @Mark I might need to take your query offline, I’ll get back to you!
A. Mark: No worries Christine, thank you.
A. Christine: Mark, the Broadmarsh Convict Farm was in Tasmania (then Van Diemen’s Land). You will need to contact Linc Tasmania (formerly the Archives office of Tasmania) for information about James William Henry Walch’s employment as the Commandant. This is the link to the contacts page: The Linc Tasmania website has a number of online (name indexes) to the records at: I checked of the index to the Wills and found that James died in 1852, leaving a will. You can view the will free of charge.

Join our mailing list