Australian ancestors

This guide was last updated in 2009

Tracking down your antipodean ancestors needn't require a trip 'down under' - there are other avenues to explore first, says Jeremy Palmer.

British migration to Australia began with the sailing of the First Fleet in May 1787. The loss of the colonies in North America meant that the British government needed to find a new location for a penal settlement to dispose of the growing convict population.

The founding of a new colony in Australia would alleviate this problem and would also provide a base for a new expansion of the British Empire into the Pacific. In the years up to 1868, more than 160,000 convicts were transported to Australia.

Many of those stayed in the country after their sentence had expired, while others made the long and hazardous sea journey back home.

Photo © Getty Images

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