FamilyHistorySApersons lost & found

Deserters & Deserted South Australia

1838 to 1920

Maureen M Leadbeater
surname * given name

30,900 deserters from wives, families, ships, military and other service (eg apprenticeships and work contracts), the deserted, those failing to support their families, missing persons, escaped prisoners, absconders from asylums and industrial schools, convict expirees arriving from other colonies, and bigamists compiled from South Australian Police Gazettes, early SA Government Gazettes, and registers of ship deserters at the National Archives of Australia. All ship desertions are from Port Adelaide unless otherwise stated.

Sources & abbreviations

GG = South Australian Government Gazette
PG = South Australian Police Gazette
D6 = NAA Register of ships crew deserted at Port Adelaide 1852-76
GRS 2414 = Register of Prisoners - Adelaide Gaol
GRG 28/5 = Register of admissions to Destitute Asylum, Adelaide
GRG 78/49 = Admissions Register - Adelaide Hospital
SA Newspapers

Further notes & acknowledgments

The SA Police Gazettes include a number of extracts from interstate and New Zealand Police Gazettes, particularly when the person had a connection with SA or was likely to go to SA. These have all been included and the source of the extract noted, eg "Extract from VIC PG".

The amount of information in the Gazette full items varies greatly. Early Government Gazettes have a number of inquiries by the Immigration Agent - these rarely give more than the ship of arrival. Most entries have a description of the person being sought, generally height, hair and beard colour. Sometimes tattoos or peculiarities of walk or speech are noted. A few items have tantalizing hints of good news. Other items have a sad ending such as "Found drowned". Most items do not have follow-up information.

The earliest surviving SA Police Gazette is for 1862. Prior to this the SA Government Gazettes have been searched for similar entries. However there are few names reported in the SAGG for this period.

The SA Police Gazettes and SA Govt Gazettes were issued weekly with the occasional supplementary issue.
The SA Police Historical Society holds a complete set from 1862.
The State Library of SA holds SA Police Gazettes from 1868 (early volumes not on open access, but can be accessed on request) and all SA Govt Gazettes (open access).
State Records of SA has SA Police Gazettes (1868, 70, 73-75 missing) and SA Govt Gazettes.

The assistance of the South Australian Police Historical Society, especially Allan Peters, is gratefully acknowledged.
Also, I am indebted to the State Library of South Australia, State Records of South Australia and National Archives of Australia (Adelaide).
Thanks to Anthony Laube for providing desertions from miscellaneous SA newspapers.
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