Carol Baxter August 2013 120An experienced and informed historian and genealogist, an internationally-acclaimed, award-winning author and a dynamic, inspirational presenter.

Carol has been a genealogist for over three decades, having first become interested in family history research while still at school. Her career as a professional genealogist began when she was appointed Project Officer of the Australian Biographical and Genealogical Record (ABGR). In that role she edited six volumes of early New South Wales muster returns (similar to census returns) and later the convict indents for 1788-1812. She edited other record series when she became General Editor of the ABGR’s new incarnation, the Biographical Database of Australia. She is a Fellow of the Society of Australian Genealogists and an adjunct lecturer at the University of New England, and is now a full-time writer and speaker. She has already spoken on two Unlock the Past genealogy cruises and will be one of the lead presenters on our Baltic cruise in July 2015.

Carol began writing ‘popular history’ in 2004 and is the author of four ‘true-crime thrillers’. An Irresistible Temptation: the true story of Jane New and a Colonial Scandal (2006), Breaking the Bank: An Extraordinary Colonial Robbery (2008), and Captain Thunderbolt and his Lady: the true story of bushrangers Frederick Ward and Mary Ann Bugg (2011) were all published by Allen & Unwin to critical acclaim while The Lucretia Borgia of Botany Bay will be published in 2015. Both Breaking the Bank and Captain Thunderbolt received first prize in writing competitions. In 2013, Britain’s Oneworld published The Peculiar Case of the Electric Constable: a true tale of passion, poison and pursuit. It has received international acclaim – Britain, America, Canada and Australia – with The Times (London) writing that it is ‘as lively and readable as a crime novel’ and Britain’s Independent praising it as ‘totally irresistible’.

‘How to’ genealogy books are among Carol’s other works. Writing Interesting Family Histories was published in 2009 and updated in 2010. She will publish a companion volume, Publishing Interesting Family Histories, in 2014. She has two guidebooks being published by Unlock the Past in 2014. In 2014/15 she will also publish Help! Historical and Genealogical Truth: How do I separate fact from fantasy along with books on convict research, New South Wales research, British surnames and British given names.

Carol is also the author of the History Detective newsletter, a free email newsletter with tips on history, researching, writing and publishing along with information about her forthcoming publications (including pre-publication discount offers). You can subscribe to the newsletter and find out more about Carol and her books and talks via her website.


Unlock the Past Cruises – 1st, 3rd, 8th & 11th


  • Convict Indents for 1788-1812 – Due March 2015
  • An Irresistible Temptation. Breaking the Bank
  • Captain Thunderbolt and his Lady
  • The Peculiar Case of the Electric Constable


  • Anointed: given names in history
  • Arrived by sea: a comprehensive examination of ‘free’ passenger records
  • Australian newspapers
  • Australia’s greatest bank robbery
  • Bail up! The story of Australia’s most successful bushranger
  • Bearing arms for the King: tracing British military ancestors
  • Blessed! The tricks and traps of church register research
  • Case study: researching the notorious Captain Thunderbolt
  • Case study: researching the notorious Mary Ann Bugg
  • Colonial crimes and criminals
  • Dodgy claims: the Landed Gentry Drews of Ireland and Devonshire
  • Dodgy research: the Douglass controversy
  • Dodgy research: the immortality of Frederick Ward aka Captain Thunderbolt
  • Don’t assume: Dealing with errors in original records
  • Electoral rolls and directories
  • Family stories: truth, myth or a bit of both?
  • Free at last! Records of Pardons, Certificates of Freedom and Tickets of Leave
  • How to become a skilled historical detective
  • Land ahoy! Tracing ancestors who arrived by sea
  • Mary Ann Bugg: Lieutenant and lover
  • Milestones in Australian history relevant to family historians
  • Nicked! Tracing criminals and their crimes in Britain and Australia
  • Norfolk Island: the first settlement 1788-1814
  • NSW church registers: a comprehensive examination
  • Polled! Australian muster and census returns
  • Records relating to NSW, Norfolk Island and Tasmania found in Colonial Office microfilms
  • Retransportation: researching convicts sentenced to secondary penal settlements
  • Scandal and skulduggery in early Sydney
  • Something from nothing: reading between the lines of military research
  • Tagged: surnames in the making
  • Temptation
  • The murder that kick-started the communication revolution
  • The Thunderbolt conspiracy
  • Tracing your ancestors in colonial New South Wales
  • Tracing your ancestors in the Mitchell and State Libraries of New South Wales
  • Tracing your ancestors through New South Wales land records: Old System, Torrens Title, Pastoral and Conditional Purchase
  • Tracing your ancestors through the Land and Property Management Authority (aka Land Titles Office)
  • Tracing your ancestors through the State Records of New South Wales
  • Tracing your criminal ancestors
  • Transported beyond the seas: a comprehensive examination of convict transportation records
  • Which family did my ancestor come from?
  • Writing a non-fiction book in 15 easy steps
  • Writing and self-publishing a ‘how to’ book
  • Writing INTERESTING family histories
  • Writing narrative non-fiction
  • Writing: structuring a family history