The Victorian Police Gazette present a fascinating and unique view of social and family history in Victoria. Not only does it provide a detailed record on the history of policing in Victoria but it also include valuable information on individuals – the police, the criminals and the victims. Use this terrific resource to research your family – you might discover that your ancestor was a constable in the police force, a ships deserter, a horse thief or perhaps the victim of a theft.

Hargreave Vic Police Gazette April 12 1934 p458

The Victoria Police Gazette commenced in December 1853 and was distributed each week to city and rural police stations and to government offices and newspaper publishers. It’s main aim was to keep the police up to date on current police affairs including recent appointments, promotions and retirements. It also provided a detailed list of recent criminal activities that appeared under such headings as:

  • Murder
  • Highway robbery and stealing from the person
  • Housebreaking and stealing from dwelling houses
  • Deserters of wives and children
  • Deserters from HM vessels
  • Deserters from merchant vessels
  • Incendiarism (burning of property)
  • Escaped prisoners
  • Horses and cattle (Stolen)
  • Property lost
  • Property found
  • Warrants issued
  • Ticket of leave holders

The State Library holds the Victoria Police Gazette for the years 1853 to 1971 and although there is an index to the gazette it’s frequency and depth of coverage varies. The first index appeared in 1860 and was produced annually until 1869. It then became monthly until 1935 and from then on was issued quarterly. You will find a separate consolidated index on microfiche Victoria Police gazette index : for the years 1853-1868 and we recently purchased a Compendium index for the years 1864-1924.

If you do find a reference to an ancestor be sure to carefully evaluate the information provided. Look for such information as dates and places; the names of acquaintances and relatives; the name and location of property, or the name of port of departure for a ship. Such clues can open up other avenues of investigation and really help to bring the story of your ancestors to life.

Here are just a few excerpts from the gazette, that show the level of detail included in each report. Click on each image to enlarge.

Prisoners discharged Vic Police Gazette May 1910 1934Prisoners reported as discharged from penal establishments. Victoria Police Gazette, May 10, 1934, p 559.

 

Incendiarism. Victoria Police Gazette April 13 1865 p 166
Incendiarism. Victoria Police Gazette,  April 13, 1865, p 166.

 

Missing friends Vic Police Gazette may 11 1865 p 195Missing friends. Victoria Police Gazette, May 11, 1865, p 195.

 Deserters from merchant vessels April 1892

Deserters from merchant vessels. Victoria Police Gazette, April 20, 1892, p111.

 

Beer April 26 p 513 1934Property found. Victoria Police Gazette, April 26, 1934, p 513.

 

Throughout the gazette you will find incredibly detailed descriptions of victims and people that can help you visual what they looked like. Here’s a brief description of  James Henry Freeland, charged with deserting his two illegitimate children in May 1892.
Blacksmith, about 30 years of age, 5 feet 8 or 9 incues high, fair complexion, blue eyes, reddish hair, sometimes wears a moustache, round face and head, surly appearance. Plays the flute at concerts.

Photographs started to be included in the early 1900s and in 1906 a monthly supplement of discharged prisoners was issued. A  separate photo supplement was issued from 1931 onwards.

 photo

Photograph of John H. Webster Photo supplement to the Victoria Police Gazette, April 5, 1934, p 31.

Online access

You can now access sections of the Victorian and interstate police gazettes through the following online resources:

Find my past Australasia (available only in the library)

  • Victoria Police Gazette 1855 – 1900
  • New South Wales Police Gazette 1862, 1864-1900
  • Queensland Police Gazette 1864-1900
  • Queensland Police Gazette Index 1864-1874
  • South Australian Police Gazette 1862-1900
  • Tasmania Police Gazette 1884-1900

Find my past Australasia also provides access to over 3 million records from Victoria Petty Sessions (1854-1985). The Court of Petty Sessions was created to hear minor criminal cases such as those involving drunkenness, criminal damage and theft. These cases, brought before a magistrate, would usually not involve a jury.

Ancestry Library Edition (available only in the library)

  • Victoria, Australia, Police Gazettes, 1893-1924
  • Queensland, Australia, Police Gazette Index, 1881-1945
  • South Australia, Australia, Police Gazettes, 1862-1947
  • New South Wales, Australia, Police Gazettes, 1854-1930
  • Tasmania, Reports of Crime, 1861-1883 Tasmania, Australia, Police Gazettes, 1884-1933

The Police Gazette of Western Australia 1876-1900
The State Library of Western Australia have digitised sections of the WA Police Gazette. You can freely access this resource from home.

Further information

The Public Record Office Victoria holds a range of records relating to police in the State of Victoria, including salary cards, police muster rolls, registers of appointments etc. Go to the PROVguide 33: Police Records for a list of their holdings.

 

This article has 34 comments

  1. Brian Johnson

    Hello Ann , i am searching for more information regarding my wifes great grandfather Robert WALKER , he could have been the person who deserted ship ” Mary Ann ” and was released in 1860 ? He also at times used the name Robert WALLACE born circa 1831 Greenock Scotland . In later docs he is described as a master mariner . Would love to find out more on the desertion and when where he obtained his masters ticket

    • Hi Brian
      Thank you for contacting us.
      On the Ancestry Library Edition database (which is available at the State Library and atall Victorian Public Library services), there is a new collection, called
      Victoria, Australia, Deserter, Discharged, and Prisoner Crew Lists, 1852-1925. This collection contains lists of crew members who either deserted left employment on a particular ship.
      There are several sailors named Robert Walker listed.

      If he received his masters ticket in the UK you might find him listed in the Ancestry Library Edition collection called – UK and Ireland, Masters and Mates Certificates, 1850-1927.

      The Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) holds records of ships’ crew commencing or ending their voyage in Victorian ports from 1852 to around 1922. See their guide PROVguide 49: Ships’ Crew for further details.

      If you are trying to find out more about Roberts life in Australia you should have a look at our online research guide called Researching your Victorian Ancestors, which lists a number of key collections that could be useful to your research. IF he was a deserter you might find some interesting newspaper articles in the Trove digitised newspaper database. Good luck with your research. Ann

  2. Judy D'Arcy Evans

    Hi, I am looking for any information on Robert Wilson Martin who I believe was a police Constable in Victoria, could be number 4528. He was my Great grandfather. They lived near Colac for a while in the late 1800’s.

    • Hi Judy. Thank you for your comments.
      I have managed to find a few references to Robert Wilson Martin and I will send them by email to your home email address. Ann

  3. Hello Ann, I found mention of one of my ancestors in the Vicrorian Police gazette index on FMP. How does one access the actual record?

    • Hi Russell

      You can access copies of the Victoria Police Gazette here at the State Library.
      Some of the collection is available on microform and some is in hard copy – depending on th years you require.
      Here is a list of our holdings.

      Victoria police gazette.
      Use microform copies for 1853-1939 issues.

      For 1853:Dec.30-1870:Dec.27
      Held in the microfiche cabinets in the Family History & Newspapers room. Call number GMF 102 / BOX 1
      Duplicate copies are also held in onsite storage MF 371

      For 1871-1939
      which includes – Photo supplement to the Victoria police gazette no. 1 (1931:May 7)-no. 12 (1938:Dec.)
      Held on microfilm in Onsite storage. Call number M 401
      Phone 03 8664 7002 to order item from storage or, if you have a State Library membership card you can request it through the library catalogue.

      Hard copies are held in our Offsite store for the following years.
      no. 1 (1853:Dec. 30)-no. 51 (1971:Dec. 23)
      Phone 03 8664 7002 a day or two before you plan on visiting the library to arrange delivery from Offsite Store YA 343.945 V66

      Good luck with your research.
      Ann

  4. Hi Ann, When researching ‘Find my Past’ I found the following notice for my 2xggf Frederick William Dolloffsky in the Victoria Police Gazette dated Sept 21, 1865 Pg. 353 ” .. “See Police Gazette 19th January 1865 p.34 …..charged with disobeying an order …… maintenance of his illegitimate child by Ellen Roberts …. arrested by the Daylesford police 20 Sept 1865”. As I & other family members were unaware of this matter I would appreciate your advice as to how I may be able to view / obtain a copy of Pg 34. Thanking you in anticipation. Regards Anita

    • Hi Anita
      Copies of the Victoria Police Gazette are held here at the State Library. As you are after the 1865 gazette you could use the
      Victoria police gazette.
      For 1853:Dec.30-1870:Dec.27
      Held in the microfiche cabinets in the Family History & Newspapers room. Call number GMF 102 / BOX 1

      The whole of the 1865 Victorian Police Gazette is available on FindMyPast, but for some reason the p34 article isn’t apppearing when i search Frederick Dolloffsky. It is possible to browse through the volume, but it’s a bit complicated, so I will email you details on how to browse.
      Regards, Ann

  5. Marilyn McGregor

    Hi Ann
    I have found a reference to my grandmother in the 1913 Police Gazette. It was an inquiry by Albert Edwin Shepperd as to her whereabouts. There is a number at the end of the paragraph – O.9917A
    Do you know what this number refers to or if there is any other information available?
    Many thanks
    Marilyn

    • Dear Marilyn, Thank you for your inquiry regarding the Police Gazettes. I have checked with my colleagues and at this stage we have not been able to identify what the O numbers refer to. We will do some further research and get back to you in soon – it has us intrigued. Best wishes Ann

  6. Marilyn McGregor

    Thanks Ann

  7. Hi Ann, similar enquiry to Marilyn, I would very much like to know also if there is any way to follow up the reference number at the end of the paragraph to gather more info, if it’s a case number or linked to a police station perhaps. I have just found an entry in the Vic Police Gazette Jan 25, 1912 of my G-Grandfather Thomas Walter Seaton deserting his wife and family, it’s my first find of him in 17 years and I’d like to pursue anything I can.
    Many thanks, Donna

    • I’m actually wondering if the reference number is possibly linked to a Warrant Number issued by police?

      • Hello Donna, We will look into this and reply to your email address. Thank you for your interest.

    • Hi Donna,
      Thanks for your query regarding the O number which appears in the Police Gazette reports. We’ve finally managed to verify that the O number refers to the offences committed.
      I contacted the historian Helen Doxford Harris who co-wrote the excellent publication Cops and robbers: a guide to researching 19th century police and criminal records in Victoria, Australia. Helen informed me that the offences were initially written out on Criminal Offence Report forms and then listed in the police gazettes.
      The Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) holds a range of records relating to Victorian police, however not all records have survived and many of their files are still to be catalogued. YOu can find more information on the PROV records in their online PROVguide33: Police Records. Good luck with your ongoing research. Best wishes Ann

  8. Is it posible to find out any information on a great uncle of mine Wiliam Besch. Originally from Perth WA we have been told he worked at the Burke Street station in the 1950’s but we have also heard he spent time in prison we are interested to know what is the truth?? Many thanks.
    Lynley Besch

  9. Hi Ann,
    You are doing such an amazing job helping us all find further bits of information on our ancestors, Thank you!!
    I am wondering if you can help me!
    My gr-gr grandpa, Henry Schuler of Preston (I think but that area) apparently hit his wife over the head with a decanter, I am wondering if there is any further information available? there was a Trove article from 2/12/1887.
    well, we think he is our relative and would like to know if there is more info and also his wife’s name?
    Thanks you!

    • Hi Lauren,
      Thank you for your query. I will look into this and reply direct to your email address. Best wishes Ann

  10. Hi Ann,
    Just came across a suggestion that details of my ancestor’s arrival in Australia may be listed in the Police Gazette.
    His name was Thomas Richard ETTERY (b. 1842), and he ran away to sea in England (as a cabin boy), and so quite possibly jumped ship in Australia. Based on details from his death certificate, he arrived circa 1855 (known he married in Victoria in 1867).
    Any help or suggestions in finding out more details of his arrival?

    Regards

    Kevin

    • Hi Kevin,
      Thank you for your query. I will look into this and reply direct to your email address. Best wishes Ann

  11. Hi Ann,
    I have found information on a relative by the name Frances.W.Wood, saying he was a Police Constable in the 1930’s .It gave reference to a number 8467. I was wondering if there was a way to find out more about him.
    Thanking you for your time.
    David Wood.

    • Hi David,
      Thank you for your query. The number 8467 would have been assigned to Frances W. Wood when he was appointed to the Police Force. There are several places you could look, to find out more information about him. If you want to find details about his career in the Police you should have a look at the Publice Record Office Victoria (PROV) PROVguide 33: Police Records, which lists the various police employment records held at PROV. Records include muster rolls, registers of employment, salary cards etc.
      If you are interested in general genealogical information go to our Researching your Victorian Ancestors research guide. This guide lists the various resources you can use to research an individual, such as indexes to wills, indexes to births, deaths and marriages, online newspapers, electoral rolls etc.
      Regards
      Ann

  12. Hello Ann, I have found a cutting regarding my Great Grandfather William John Timlock in February 1912 entitled “Missing Friends”. At the end of the article there are the words “Photographs at Detective Office, Adelaide – (C.288)”
    Would you happen to know if those photographs actually exist online anywhere in connection to the newspaper cutting?
    Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    Many thanks

    Angela

    • Hi Angela
      Thank you for your query. The South Australian Police Gazette is available from 1862-1947 on the Ancestry database but it doesn’t look as though any photographs or photo supplements are included. As you are researching a South Australian collection it would be worth emailing the library staff at the State Library of SA – they may know if these records are still available. I also suggest you have a look at their research guideGovernment Records and the Family Historian which has a page on researching South Australian Police Gazettes.
      Regards
      Ann

  13. Hello Ann,
    I have found two references to Emily Jane Bond and Emily Jane Munday (the same person), in the Victoria Police Gazette of 1896 under “Missing Friends”. After her name there is number 173. There isn’t a page number 173. What does that number mean and where would I find more information about this posting?
    Best regards.
    Wendy

    • Hi Wendy

      Digitised copies of the Victorian Police Gazette are available on the Ancestry database – available here at the State Library and at all Victorian public library services.
      I searched the index for Emily Jane Bond and found a copy of the full Missing Friends article on page 173 fo the June 10, 1896 issue. Here’s a transcript of it.

      EMILY JANE MUNDAY, nee Emily Jane Bond, is inquired for by Sergeant A. E. Dungey (2859), C.I. Branch. Description: 35years of age, a native of New Zealand, a hat trimmer. The woman is required as a witness in the case of Police v. Frederick Leslie, charged with bigamy. Was last heard of a few years ago in Richmond. The case against Leslie is to be heard on the 16th inst – O4942. 4th June, 1896.
      Regards
      Ann

  14. Hello Ann,

    I am looking for details of my late father Ronald Sydney West. He joined the army by putting up his age in 1941, but was discharged 7 months later. His army record states – Discharge – 10 Oct 1941 – Having during service been sentenced to penal servitude or imprisonment, or by Court Martial. I couldn’t find anything in the army records, so I assume it was not military. Would his crime be listed in the police gazette – he would have been 16
    Kind regards,
    Carol

  15. Hi Ann
    My GGGrandmother was Phoebe Folkes, When she was only 14 or 15 (in 1900 or 1901), she had a baby. I’ve managed to find a reference in the Victorian Police Gazette (quarter ending Sept 1900) to a John N Clark getting into strife for carnally knowing Phoebe. But it’s just a single line in the index with the number 341 after it. Is there more information about the incident somewhere? What does the 341 refer to? I searched via findmypast and paid to look at the record, but it only gave me the same index line I had already found for free. My fingers are crossed you know how to find out more!
    Thanks for your time. . . Angela (in Brisbane)

  16. I am doing some research for an Ancestry friend in the UK regarding Albert Ward Newton in the South Australian Police Gazette 1862-1947 in which it is stated that a photograph of the offender can be found in Victorian Police Gazette 1906 Page 187 (C.751). Is it possible for me to obtain a copy of that photo please. Thank you for your time … Dawn (in Brisbane)

    • Hello Dawn, Thank you for enquiry. If you have access to the Ancestry database you should be able to access the Victorian Police Gazette for 1906.
      It appears as – Victoria, Australia, Police Gazettes, 1855, 1864-1924. Once you open this collection you will see a Browse option (which appears towards the right hand side of the search screen). From this select 1906 and then jump to page 187. There you will find an image of Albert Ward Newton. Best wishes Ann

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