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Courts

Queensland State Archives (QSA) hold a variety of court records: like wills, inquests, murders, criminal depositions, also insolvency and liquidation files. Many of these court records have a restricted access period of 65 or 100 years.

How do I find the records?

You can search our indexes if you know the name and approximate court date or year of death of the person you are looking for. Please be aware that the indexes do not cover all court records. For more information on searching indexes, see Start your research.

Court records

  • Read Brief guide to court records—providing an overview of the structure of Queensland courts.
  • Read Brief guide to insolvency and liquidation records from 1859. Liquidation records date from 1874.
  • Search Divorces 1861-1894—Index to records of divorces, also known as matrimonial petitions, causes (writs) or Common Law writs.
  • Search Equity files 1857-1899—Index to records of equity files containing names of all people connected with a case including deceased, interstate and overseas residents.
  • Search Justices of the peace 1857-1957—Index to Justices of the Peace created by the Supreme Court, Moreton Bay later known as the Supreme Court of Queensland and now known as the Supreme Court, Southern District, Brisbane.
  • Search Naturalisations 1851-1908—Index to naturalisations generated from records created by the Supreme Court, Brisbane, Rockhampton and Townsville districts as well as the Colonial Secretary's Office and the Government Resident’s Office.
  • Search Register of court fees 1885-1908—Index to registers of court fees created by the Court of Petty Sessions, Marburg that includes the date, name of case and nature of offence. 

Criminal

  • Read Brief guide to murder records including police investigations, newspaper reports and general correspondence.  Many of the files are subject to a restricted access period.
  • Search Criminal depositions 1861-1885—Index to records of criminal depositions that includes the name of accused, the offence and date and place of trial.

Deed polls

  • QSA holds deed poll records that were registered with the Queensland Supreme Court up until 2004.

Inquests

  • Read Brief guide to inquest records—listing the main series of inquest files, and preliminary enquiry records held at QSA. Inquests are magisterial inquiries held before a Coroner to establish the cause of death, identity of the deceased, details about the death and whether any person is to be charged with a criminal offence. Sometimes inquests into fires or missing persons may be held.
  • Search Inquests 1859-1902—Index to inquests held before a coroner to establish the fact of death, the identity of the deceased, circumstances surrounding the death and whether any charges should be laid relating to the death.

Police gazettes

Wills

  • Read Brief guide to will and intestacy—records created by the Supreme Court of Queensland, and the Public Trustee (formerly the Public Curator).
  • Search Instruments of renunciation 1915-1983—index to instruments of renunciation, where the Executor/Executrix no longer wishes to administer a will.
  • Search Trustee files 1889-1929—index to trustee files set up under the provision of a will including information about land ownership, rental properties, relatives, disbursement of funds, details of children, school fees and employees and wages lists. Most of these files have a 75 year restricted access period.
  • Search Wills 1857-1940—index to wills from all districts from 1857 to 1900 and for the Southern District, Brisbane from 1901 except the Public Curator files (intestacies) in which many other wills can be found.

Search the catalogue

ArchivesSearch provides access to QSA’s collection of records, including documents, letters, land orders, maps, plans and images. For help searching, read the ArchivesSearch help guide

Search tips

  • If you’re searching for wills, intestacies or inquests you need the individual’s name and approximate date of death.
  • If you’re searching through the Justice of the Peace records, then you need to know the person’s name and the approximate date the oath was sworn.
  • If you’re searching through insolvency records, then you need to know the person’s name, as well as the year and jurisdiction of their insolvency.

Why can’t I find what I’m looking for?

There are a number of reasons why you may not find a record at QSA.

  • Some records are restricted or closed to public access and may not be immediately available to view.
  • The name may not be listed in the indexes under the exact year of death. You may need to continue checking the indexes for a few years after the date of death.
  • The name may have been written in the record phonetically as the clerks wrote the names as they heard them. Think about how it could be spelt as it was heard. Also, spelling of all names was not as consistent as it is today.
  • The name may have been incorrectly indexed as the handwriting is sometimes difficult to read or the ink has faded. The capital letters L, T, F and S are often confused as are lower case letters n, m, u and w. Taylor may indexed as Laylor or Brum may be indexed as Bruin.  Also, the use of double ‘s’ (ss) often looks like fs, so Ross will be indexed as Ross but may appear in the record as Rofs.

Contact us

Contact us if you need further help.

Archival research terms

Record—information of permanent and historic value, often in paper-based form (e.g. a letter, photograph, a map), but can also be a CD, a film or a digital file

Item—a single record or many records, e.g. an item may be a single architectural drawing, a 500-page leather-bound book, or a bundle of correspondence (letters, telegrams, reports)

Series—a group of related items created, received, or used in the same activity

Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated
25 May 2017
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