Bankruptcy records held in Sydney – Fact sheet 120
Bankruptcy is when an individual is legally declared unable to pay his or her debts. Until 1977 the responsibility for administering bankruptcy rested with two agencies within the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department; the Registrar in Bankruptcy and the Official Receiver. Each of these agencies created large numbers of records relating to individual bankrupts and these records are now held by the various offices of the Archives. This fact sheet describes records of New South Wales bankruptcies held by the office in Sydney.
Bankruptcy became the responsibility of the Commonwealth government in 1928 when the Bankruptcy Act 1924 came into effect. Prior to this time, bankruptcies were administered by the state governments and most pre-1928 bankruptcy records should therefore be held by the respective state archival authorities. Material on pre-1928 cases may be held by the Archives if they were still active at the time bankruptcy became a Commonwealth responsibility. The Sydney office of National Archives has material dating earlier than 1928 in several series of bankruptcy records.
Types of records
Bankruptcy records that are useful in tracking individual cases are Bankrupts' administration estate files and Sequestration records.
Bankrupts' administration estate files were created by the New South Wales Official Receiver (CA 931). These files document most activities in connection with a bankrupt estate including transcripts of Bankruptcy Court hearings, the report of the Official Receiver, property statements, details of the arrangements made for selling assets and information about the claims made by creditors for amounts owing. Relevant records held by the Archives in Sydney office are listed below.