Wife & Child Deserters
WIFE & CHILD DESERTERS IN AUSTRALIA IN THE 19th & 20th CENTURIES.
In 1988, I published Digging for Gold. A guide to researching family & local history in Victoria’s Central Goldfields. The book was the first basic guide to goldfields research for genealogists and local historians. It has been out of print for some years now, but copies are available in many family history organisations, local libraries and various State libraries. I subsequently co-authored and published Cops and Robbers. A Guide to Researching 19th Century Police and Criminal Records in Victoria, Australia. This book is now also out of print.
One particular source I find useful is the listing of wife and child deserters regularly published in the Victoria Police Gazettes. As the Gazettes were not indexed until 1859, in Digging for Gold I included the basic details of those deserters listed from the commencement of the Gazettes in December 1853, until December 1858. I also found and included a listing of South Australian families left destitute by husbands abandoning them for the Victorian goldfields. The South Australian listing can be searched from the link below.
Copies of the Gazettes to 1872 are now available on microfiche, and many family history libraries have them, but the only way for many people to access Gazettes after this time period is to purchase the CD version, which is expensive,and the search facility is not always 100% accurate. For some time now I have been extracting the basic details of these wife and child deserters, indexing the entries and creating cross references to places, and publishing them on microfiche. The periods covered are: 1880-1885, 1886-1890, 1891-1895. Each microfiche contains around 3,000 entries, and includes some extracts from interstate Police Gazettes.
As well as wife deserters, there are many references to men deserting their illegitimate children. While the police were concerned with offenders, and thus list only the offender in the Gazette indexes, I have also cross referenced the names of all victims. For those people trying to find the father of an illegitimate child, this source can be very useful. Copies of the microfiche are available from Harriland Press. Special reduced prices for these fiche apply while stocks last.
During my searches through miscellaneous police correspondence files I have also come across many references to wife (and occasionally husband) deserters. While the basic details of many of these entries are reproduced in the Victoria Police Gazette, the files themselves can contain more information. Some of these files also include a photograph of the deserter, and I have now started including these details on this web page.
ARRANGING PHOTOCOPIES OF THE FILES (VICTORIAN INDEX ONLY)
Note the names, date and detail of the file, including the number of pages involved.
- Work out the cost of photocopying, at 65c per page, (including GST) as charged by the Public Record Office. Add $AUS40 retrieval fee for each file. (No GST charged on retrieval fee.)
- Either send a cheque in Australian Dollars made out to Harriland Press to PO Box 92, Forest Hill, Victoria, Australia, 3131, or email me to obtain details for a direct credit to our account. If you wish to send a cheque in a foreign currency please allow $Aust15 bank fee. New Zealand orders are advised to email me for alternate arrangements. Please include two International Reply Paid Coupons for return postage if outside Australia, (obtainable from any post office) otherwise a $1.20 Australian stamp if under 10 pages, or $2.00 for extra pages.
- Remember to supply your own address, including if possible, an email address.
- You will be emailed when your letter arrives and the photocopies are ordered, and again when your order has been posted to you.
- My email address is hdh1atozemail.com.au (you will need to remove the ‘at’ and replace with @).
- Note: The Public Record Office will not allow photocopying of photographs. The minimum charge for reproduction of a photograph by the PRO is $A7, and there is a delay of about a month. However the PRO also now offers a digital copy of a photo, produced on a CD, for $15. There is a quicker turnaround with the digital copy.
- The Public Record Office has now (2012) made a digital camera available for researchers in the search rooms, so it is possible to record the material digitally onto a USB, burn it onto a CD at home and post it off in a padded bag. I will undertake this alternate option for orders where there is a photograph and a file of under 20 pages, for a fee of $50.