The term "indents" is a contemporary one and seems to have had varied meanings. Its application to the documents of legal significance which conveyed a property in the services of the convicts is clear, as these were legal indentures
but the documents in this series, which were bound up after compilation, and the volumes entitled "Indents", were compiled on board the transports before the convicts disembarked
their purpose appears to have been to provide the basis for the "pre-arrival" information, certain parts of which were, after 1827, entered on the conduct records (CON 40).
The information regularly given includes number, name, when and where convicted, sentence, trade, native place, some details of personal appearance (always age and height) and some information on crime and relatives at the native place and elsewhere. In some cases the information on relatives at the native place is fuller than on the indents of the male convicts. After approximately 1828 information is usually given on literacy, religion, number of children. The "confession", or statement made by the convict on arrival of the offence for which she was transported and of previous record, appears regularly after 1841, and this information corresponds with the statement copied into the conduct records.
The indent papers were prepared on a ship's arrival, and the procedure seems to have been for the details on the Assignment List to be copied first and the rest added from personal questioning. Each volume usually contains lists for several ships often arranged in approximate alphabetical order by the ship's name, and each convict's entry is made under printed headings covering two pages.
Many volumes of indents have found their way out of official custody and are at present held elsewhere
others are in other Record Groups.
These records are part of the holdings of the Tasmanian Archives