It can be frustrating when you cant find a records of your ancestors arrival in Victoria after completing the research steps outlined in my previous post. There are a range of explanations why you may not find your person in the usual passenger lists at the Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV).

They may be hidden under a miss-transcription in the PROV’s indexes to passenger lists. I recommend that you make use of the wild card (*) search feature in the online indexes. For example, if you are searching for the family Fawkner/Faulkner but dont find them in the index, you could do a search under Fa*r and work through the list. You may locate your family under Fauldner or some other miss-transcription.

Another feature of the PROV’s online indexes is that it limits search results to 500 passengers. If you have more than 500 matching entries, I recommend that you look at the last page of results and then do a new search with the surname that follows the last one.

Unfortunately for family historians, sometimes the names of passengers on board ships arriving in Victoria were never recorded. It is important to know that before  the Passenger Act of 1852 captains were not obliged to make lists of their passengers.  Early shipping records may simply list our ancestors as one of  784 steerage (as opposed to cabin) passengers with no names provided at all!

Don’t forget that some people who arrived in Victoria worked as crew to pay their passage and were not recorded as passengers for that voyage.  Check the State Library’s immigration research guide to starting researching crew lists. Some immigrants also arrived on cargo ships that were mainly delivering supplies but carried a few passengers as well. If you know the name of the ship and a year, I recommend that you check Marten Syme’s volumes of Shipping Arrivals and Departures which is available in the Genealogy Centre.

Of course, it is possible that your ancestors arrived in to another state and then moved to Victoria and no-one in your family knew. You can check indexes to passenger lists for other states to make sure.

This article has 2 comments

  1. My grandfather arrived to Australia just before the First World War.
    He had a job on the Sydney Harbour Bridge where he was killed at the age of 40 yrs. In the year 1932.
    John Alexander Faulkner.
    We have no know ledge of where he was from.
    [email protected]
    Thank you

    • Thanks for your question Janet.
      I have logged this with our Ask a librarian service and a staff member will be in touch shortly,

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