A muster was a survey of the population. It required the population to assemble at specific locations on appointed days, to be counted and information collected. It could involve surveying a specific cohort such as convicts, or the whole of the inhabitants in the colony in a general muster. General musters included convicts, ex-convicts and free settlers. Convicts who were free by servitude were expected to display their certificates at the muster. They were generally conducted under the order of the Lieutenant Governor and an officer of the Commissary.
Government & General Orders.
Government House, Hobart
Monday, September 5, 1814.
The Lieut. Governor is pleased to direct, that a General Muster of the whole of the Inhabitants (Civil and Military excepted) shall take place at the several Settlements on the following days, under his own Inspection, and accompanied by Mr. Hogan Deputy Assistant Commissary General.
At Hobart on Monday the 19th Inst. including the District of Sandy Bay, and extending to Browns River; Newton, and its environs extending up the river on this side as far as the Black Snake swamp, Kangaroo point, extending up the river as far as Herdsmans Cove.
On Thursday the 22nd Inst. at Clarence Plains, extending down the river. And on Monday 26th Inst. at New Norfolk, including the back Settlement.
At which time and places the whole of the Free Men on and off the Store, including such as came to the Colony, such as have become free from their sentence of Transportation having expired, and such as are free by absolute pardons, or conditional Emancipations; all male prisoners on and off the Stores, including Ticket of Leave Men.—All free women, on and off the Stores, including, those that came free into the Colony, as well as those who are free by absolute pardons, or conditional Emancipations, or from their sentence of Transportation having expired; at which time they are to give in their names and ages of their children, and all Female prisoners on and off the Stores, will give in their names, and the ages of their children; and if any of the above description of Persons are Land-holders, they are to give an account of their land in cultivation together with their Stock and Grain in their possession.
As sufficient Notice is given those Persons who do not make their appearance, will forfeit all indulgencies they hitherto have had from the Crown.
The places appointed for the Muster are as follows—at Hobart the Commissary's Office—Clarence Plains, the house of E. Kemberly Constable—at New Norfolk, the Lieut. Governors Marquee, pitched in a centrical part of the Settlement.
By Command of his Honor
The Lieut. Governor,
A. Lascelles, Secretary.
The Van Diemen's Land Gazette and General Advertiser, Saturday 20 August 1814 - Page 1
Convicts holding Tickets of Leave were regularly required to attend musters. Failure to attend a muster could result in a convict's Ticket of Leave being revoked.
The 1823 Muster advertised:
'The Medical Officers of the several Stations and Districts, will make nominal Returns of all the Sick under their Charge, who are incapable of attending'.
All Persons whose Term of Transportation has expired, and who have Certificates, and all who have obtained Free or Conditional Pardons, are to produce their Certificates, Free or Conditional Pardon, as the Case may be; and all Ticket of Leave Men and Women are to exhibit their Tickets of Leave, at the Time of Muster ; and all Persons neglecting to do so are to be considered as Prisoners of the Crown and returned to Government Service. (Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser, Saturday 20 September 1823 - Page 1)
The Muster Roll for 1841 is a list of the female convicts who were listed on the 1841 muster roll. An analysis of the 1841 muster roll shows the following breakdown for the female convicts:
- 28% holding a ticket of leave, holding a conditional pardon, free by servitude, married or absconded
- 29% institutionalised at a female factory, gaol, prisoners' barracks, nursery or hospital
- 1% dead
- 42% in service to masters/mistresses or at Government House
The Courier published the following dates, times and places for musters on Friday 2 September 1842 (p.2).
Those residing in that part of the district from Grayfort to Eastham, Ellerslie, and Kingston, will be mustered on Friday, the 16th of September next, at 10 o'clock in the forenoon, on the Church Hill, Avoca.
Those residing between Grayfort, Falmouth, and George's River, will be mustered at the Police Office, Fingal, on Tuesday, the 20th September, at 10 o'clock in the forenoon.
At the Police Office, Campbell Town, on Friday, the 23d September, at 9 o'clock.
On Tuesday, the 20th September, at the Court House, Oatlands.
On Wednesday, the 21st September, at the London Inn, Spring Hill.
On Thursday, the 22d September, at the White Hart Inn, Antill Ponds.
On Friday, the 23d September, at Mr. William Neale's, Eastern Marshes.
The Muster each day will take place at 10 o'clock precisely in the forenoon.
All those to the northward of the Whiteford Hills, at the Police Station at Port Sorell, on Monday, the 19th September next, at 10 o'clock a.m.
Those to the northward and in the neighbourhood of Deloraine, at the Police Station at Deloraine, on Monday, the 19th September next, at 10 o'clock a.m.
Those in the neighbourhood of Westbury, at the Police Office, Westbury, on Tuesday, the 20th September next, at 10 o'clock a.m.
Those residing in the vicinity of Longford, and between the Cressy and Entally estates, at the Police Office, Longford, at 10 o'clock on the 20th September; and those residing between Cressy and the Macquarie River, at the same hour, at Brumby's Creek Bridge.
Those residing at Carrick, Entally, and the adjacent neighbourhood, will muster at the Police Station, Carrick, at 10 o'clock on the 21st September.
And those residing within Perth and its vicinity at the same time, at the Police Station at Perth.
At the Police Office, New Norfolk, on Wednesday, the 14th September, at 10 o'clock.
At the Police Office, George Town, on Thursday, the 29th September, at 10 o'clock.
Those residing to the northward of the Wye River, on Monday, the 26th day of September next, at 12 o'clock, near Messrs. Amos's, Glen Gaia.
Those residing between the Wye River and Kelvedon, on Tuesday, the 27th day of September next, at 10 o'clock, at the Police Office, Swansea.
And those residing to the southward of Mr. Webber's farm, on Wednesday, the 28th day of September next, at 12 o'clock, at the Constable's Hut, Rocky Hills.
All such convicts residing at Prosser's Plains, including the White Marsh, the Sandspits, and Cockle Bay, will muster at the Police Office, Prosser's Plains; and all such residing at Spring Bay, Little Swanport, and the Eastern Marshes, at the residence of the District Constable, Spring Bay, on Monday, the 12th September, at 11 o'clock.
Those who reside in the neighbourhood of the Nine Mile Marsh, Bashan Plains, and Marlborough, will muster at the District Constable's residence at Marlborough, on Tuesday, the 20th September, at 11 o'clock.
Those who reside in the neighbourhood of the River Ouse will muster at the Ouse Bridge, and the remainder at the Police Office, Hamilton, on Tuesday, the 20th September, at 11 o'clock.
At the Richmond Police Office; Sorell Police Office; and the Clarence Plains School-house, on Saturday, the 10th September, at 10 o'clock.
Those residing at the Black Marsh, and within five miles (including the Hunting Ground District,) will be mustered on Monday, the 19th of September next, at 12 o'clock, at the Constable's Hut at that place.
Those residing at the Lakes, and within five miles of Mount Pleasant, near the Shannon, will be mustered at Mr. Robert Patterson's Hut, as last year, on Wednesday, the 21st of September, at 12 o'clock.
All other ticket-of-leave men residing in the district will be mustered at the Police Office, Bothwell, on Friday, the 23d of September, at 11 o'clock.
All persons holding tickets-of-leave who do not attend the musters as directed, will be gazetted as illegally at large, and dealt with accordingly.