Before you can begin searching for your ancestors’ arrival in Victoria, I recommend that you begin by doing some background research to decide when he or she may have arrived.

Start by checking details birth, death and marriage details. If the person married or bore a child in Victoria then they arrived before this date. If they died in Victoria, the death certificate can show the state/colony in which the deceased arrived i.e. 2 years in South Australia and 20 years in Victoria. Remember that death certificates can also be very misleading if the informant did not have access to all the information. Some informants created information to save embarrassment due to their lack of knowledge.

Some hospital records also name the ship on which the patient arrived.  For example,  the  hospital record dated 20 Dec 1873 for Robert McGallon aged 45 of Percydale shows that he arrived on the Glenroy 19 years previously.  Marten Syme’s wonderful Shipping arrivals and departures, Victorian ports showed that the Glenroy arrived 1854 with 1 cabin passenger and 163 intermediate passengers (none of whom are on the PROV website).

Other useful sources for immigration research include:

  • Naturalisation and alien registration papers – usually state when a person arrived and name the ship.
  • Cemetery – graves stones may be useful
  • Military records – could show the birthplace
  • Newspapers – for shipping arrivals or obituaries

If your ancestor was from England, you may have found them in a particular census but they disappear before the next one. This gives you a ten year gap for you to search for an arrival. Also, don’t forget that before 1851 Victoria was the Port Phillip District of New South Wales.

Remember that sometimes another person has done the work and written a book or put the information online. For example a transcription of  the passenger list for the Lord Delaval which arrived in Melbourne during the gold rush is available online at the GENUKI website. You can find these searching the web with your favourite search engine.

l will publish another post later in the week on what to do if you can’t find them arriving in Victoria.

Jenny Carter is an experienced family historian who answers research questions in the Q & A section of Ancestor, the Genealogical Society of Victoria’s journal.

This article has 1 comment

  1. hi,i m looking to trace my relatives anne bright and her son,graham who headed by ship to australia in i957,also i believe anne had another son ian whilst resident in victoria,she was married to albert george bright,who i have been unable to find in australia, if you can help in anyway i would be very gratefull,kind regards sharon darr,

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