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Tocal's convicts 1822-1840

Pathways to freedom

Tocal's convicts obtained their freedom through Certificates of Freedom, Tickets of Leave and Conditional Pardons.

Convicts with a fixed sentence such as seven or 14 years became free when their sentence expired. The sentence started from the date of their trial, so they had already served part of it when they arrived in New South Wales. When their sentences expired they were 'free by servitude' and this was unconditional - they could return to Britain or Ireland if they had the means and desire to do so, but very few did. They could also apply for a Certificate of Freedom which provided written evidence of their status if challenged by a constable or the military.

A Ticket of Leave was in effect a release on parole. It allowed convicts to work for themselves in a specified district provided they behaved themselves, reported regularly to local authorities and, if possible, attended divine worship on Sundays.

For convicts with fixed-length sentences, a Ticket of Leave was the way to obtain an early release for good behaviour. For most of those with life sentences, it was an essential first step towards freedom. After gaining their Ticket of Leave, 'lifers' had to earn a Conditional Pardon, which gave them freedom as long as they remained in the Colony. To become free to return to Britain or Ireland, a convict with a life sentence had to obtain an Absolute Pardon, and relatively few of these were granted (there is no record of a Tocal convict receiving one).

Below: Conditional Pardon for John Hoyle, a Tocal convict originally convicted for his part in the power loom riots in Lancashire in 1826.

A Conditional Pardon