Not that hard: Update on Land Records

posted in: Visiting archives | 17
Bound registers in the General Law Library, Land Victoria, Laverton
Bound registers in the General Law Library, Land Victoria, Laverton

My original blog on researching Victorian Land Memorials [old General Law titles] was posted back in February 2011.  Since then the Land Memorial registers have been moved to Land Victoria, Land Information Centre Archive at Laverton.  The Memorial registers have been joined by the Application Files, so it’s appropriate to not only update the method for finding a Victorian Land Memorial, but also include the Application Files.

This blog will guide you through the steps to find a Victorian Land Memorial as well as an Application File – follow these steps carefully as there is NO-ONE at Laverton who can help you.  Most importantly, don’t ask the other researchers in the library – many will be professional land searchers and to them, time is money.  It is NOT their job to help you, so you must do your homework in advance and understand what you’re doing there.

Of course there is no guarantee that you will find a Memorial or Application file for YOUR ancestor, but if it’s there, this guide should help you find it.

Land Information Centre 57 Cherry Lane Laverton
Land Information Centre
57 Cherry Lane


Land Victoria
Land Information Centre
57 Cherry Lane
Laverton 3026


8.30 am to 4.00 pm Monday to Friday

Closed Public Holidays

CHECK THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE for current details.

ACCESS to General Law Library at Laverton – click on the image above right to view details.

  1. Driveway access to Land Information Centre at 57 Cherry Lane, Laverton.
  2. Visitor parking area.
  3. Entrance to reception desk.


  • Report to the Reception desk – the entrance to the left of pathway off the parking area.  There you will sign in and be given an access pass and directions to the General Law Library.
  • Back out through the doors to the Reception area and follow the path to the left.
  • Through two sets of double glass doors and the General Law Library is immediately on your right.
  • Before going to the library, particularly if you’ve had a long trip, the Ladies and Gents are further down the corridor on your left.
  • You will need your access pass on the card sensor to open the double doors for the General Law Library.  Important: when you leave, you need to press the exit button on the wall at the right of these doors.
  • Once through the double doors the General Law Library is through the doorway on the left.


  • DO NOT use pens / biros – use pencils only.
  • YOU MAY use your camera – avoid using your flash.
  • YOU MAY use the photocopier provided at the end of the room.
  • SHARE your time using things like the photocopier with other researchers.
  • There is no charge for photocopying but do NOT abuse this privilege.
  • SHARE your desktop space with other researchers.
  • SHARE your space with other researchers – don’t be too loud.
  • TAKE CARE handling documents / registers – these are original records and any damage you cause will impact all future researchers.
  • DO NOT ask other researchers for help – they are doing their own research and may be on paid jobs – your interruption will cost them money!
  • RESPECT your fellow and future researchers.


  • Bound Memorials of the conveyance (or lease or other Instrument) of land under the General or Old Law, relating to land granted by the Crown between 1838 and 1862.  The Torrens System of land registration was introduced on 2 October 1862.
  • Finding Aids for Memorials
  • Application Files – created by the Clerk
  • Application Files – created by the Examiner
  • Sundry card files / indexes.


  • Left side, in compactus shelves – Application Files [Clerk] in numerical order
  • Far wall on left – photocopier
  • Shelves on far end wall – two bound volumes A-K and L-Z index
  • Shelves on far end wall – numbered FIRST SERIES registers
  • Shelves on left wall – alphabetical volumes A-Z index
  • Shelves on left wall and both sides of cabinets in centre of room – numbered SECOND SERIES registers
  • Bottom shelves on left wall, bottom shelves on both sides of cabinets in centre of room, and compactus on the right near the entrance door – Application Files [Examiner] in numerical order.  BEWARE – you will need to get on the floor to check the bottom shelves of the cabinets in the centre of the room – these are often two deep and you won’t find the second row if you’re standing up!
  • Compactus shelves on right from back wall – Land Memorial Registers


  • Make sure you understand what you’re researching – a good starting point for background reading.
  • Be familiar with the County, Parish, Section, Allotment details and associated names – don’t work on the wrong records by not knowing WHAT and WHERE you should be looking!
  • Application File number – have your Application File number(s) with you.
Application Files - Examiner [stored two rows deep]
Application Files – Examiner [stored two rows deep]

  • Application Files contain references to Memorial Book transactions to enable the property to be brought under New Title.  [Torrens Title] and confirm the legal owner of that property
  • There are two sets – one produced by the Clerk and the second by the Examiner.  A Certificate of Title could be created based on the results of the latter.  It is worth checking / copying both sets as there may be variations – remember that it is the Application File created by the Examiner that will enable a Certificate of Title to be created.  You will also find some handwriting easier to read than others!
  • Application Files are stored numerically so are easy to locate.
  • Take the bundle to the cabinet tops to undo the cloth tape and clip, ensuring that you don’t mess up the order of the files or damage them.
  • Make sure you carefully do up the bundle when you’re finished – ensuring that the bundle number range is clearly displayed.  Be careful that you replace the bundle in the correct location.
  • Remember to check the second row of bundles in the Examiner group of files.


There are a couple of methods of identifying the Application File No [Application No.] – BEFORE you visit Laverton:

  • Certificates of Title – trace back through Certificates of Title, identifying the Parent of each.  The Parent Title will generally be found at the top of the second page.  It will be a Volume and Folio [Certificate of Title] number until you reach the FIRST Title, then it will be an Application Number.  This method is following the Land ownership back in time.
  • Register of Applications for Certificates of Title using the Index of Applications for Certificate of Title at PROV [Public Record Office Victoria] – VPRS 405, VPRS 16705 and VPRS 460.  This method is identifying the owner of the land when it was transferred from Old Title to New.



The search is in three stages.  Our example is a search for Edmond BUCKLEY who had land interests on the coast near Cobden in the 1850s, hence we will search the First Series.

FIRST SERIES: covers the years 1838 to 1859
SECOND SERIES: covers later years with some overlap.


  • First you must consult the index in the First Series Nominal or Name Index – at the end of the First Series books [below left]
  • Volume 1 A-K was searched for Edmond Buckley [below centre]
  • In the columns to the left for Edmond BUCKLEY: Book 44, Number 392 [below right]
Stage One, First Series Index
[No 6] Stage One, First Series, volume 1, A-K
Stage One, First Series, volume 1, A-K
Stage One, Entry for Edmond BUCKLEY
Stage One, Entry for Edmond BUCKLEY


  • Select Book 44 from the First Series books.  These white-cloth covered bound volumes are all labelled in black writing.  [below left]
  • These are the numerical indexes which give a page full of details of land transactions of a particular person.  [below centre]
  • There were three entries for Edmond BUCKLEY:  [below centre]
    • Book 46, No 614 – Patrick COADY – Woranga part por 15
    • Book 63, No 319 – Patrick COADY – Woranga pt Sec 15
    • Book 64, No 267 – J A GOOLD – Woranga pt sec 1
  • Select relevant Memorial Book, First Series, from the compactus file.  [below right]
Stage One, First Series book
Stage One, First Series book
[No 10] Stage Two, entries for Edmond BUCKLEY
Stage Two, entries for Edmond BUCKLEY
[No 11] Stage Three, compactus files
Stage Two, Memorial Books from compactus files


  • Select appropriate Book 46 from the First Series Memorial books.  Take it to the cabinet bench top and open it at Page (or Folio) 614.  This shows that it is a Conveyance.  Edmond BUCKLEY and Patrick COADY are the two parties involved and the date is 10 March 1857.  There is also a witness name.  [below left]
  • Book 63, No 319 describes fully the land being conveyed – sometimes, if it is a hotel for instance, it may well state that the transaction contains the wood building of eight rooms known as the King’s Arms Hotel and the outbuildings and stables attached, or something similar.  Generally there is no description of buildings.  At the right is the amount of money paid by the one party to the other.  [below centre]
  • Select relevant Memorial Book, First Series, from the compactus file.  [below right]
Stage Three, memorial for Edmond BUCKLEY
Stage Three, memorial for Edmond BUCKLEY
Stage Three, memorial for Edmond BUCKLEY
Stage Three, memorial for Edmond BUCKLEY
Stage Three, memorial for Edmond BUCKLEY
Stage Three, memorial for Edmond BUCKLEY


  • Follow the same procedure as for the FIRST SERIES but using the Indexes identified as SECOND SERIES  [below left] and the volumes for the SECOND SERIES  [below right]
Second Series Indexes
Second Series Indexes
Second Series books
Second Series books


The above guide was valid as at Tuesday 28 October 2014 – you should always check that procedures and/or rules have not changed in the meantime.  Information should be available from Land Victoria / Land Information Centre.

The contents of this Blog cannot be blamed on Land Victoria – it was compiled and published by a private individual to assist other researchers looking for items in the General Law Library, Laverton.

17 Responses

  1. Patsy Daly

    Most timely Susie. My understanding is that the Application Files for those properties currelnty held under old titles are in the office and not in the Library. Is this still the case do you know?

    • Susie Zada

      Sorry I’m confused – Application Files are for properties moved from Old Title to New Title – that’s why they are called Application Files. Which ones are you referring to?

  2. Peter Schulze

    I was told by someone at Land Data today by phone that I would have to employ a general law researcher to search for a general law title owned by my family because I wouldn’t be allowed to access the records in the library. Is that incorrect or has something changed recently?

    • Susie Zada

      Hello Peter – I guess a lot depends on who the “someone” was – I suggest you follow the link above for the link to the current web site which includes opening hours and phone number for Laverton. BUT, you must know exactly what you’re looking for and how to find it as there is no-one to assist in the General Law Library. These are all OLD law records.

      • Peter Schulze

        Thanks, I’ll give it a go. I have a couple of Torrens titles that were converted from old general law titles via an application that I know the number of. I guess the application number is where I’ll start. Once I find the application file will that point me to the old law title?

  3. Susie Zada

    Hi Peter, That’s exactly why they don’t encourage people to go to the Old Law Library – if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing there is no point. It takes years to understand and learn how to follow land records. Old Law Title? That is not a normal term.

  4. Susie Zada

    But Peter, an Application File would never “point … to the old law title” – it would point to many, many memorials.

  5. Evie Buckley

    Edmond Buckley is my Great Great Grandfather. Interesting to see where his name comes up in my family history research.

  6. Clive Smith

    Thanks for your information.
    Academic at present as everything’s still closed, but I look forward to following your ‘advice’ soon.
    Clive Smith
    Heritage Officer
    Nepean Historical Society, Sorrento

  7. Cameron

    Thank you for the wonderful blog post, Susie! We would have been completely lost without your guide – it is very easy and straight-forward to follow!

    We visited the General Law Library on the morning of 14 July 2021 (prior to Victoria’s 5th lockdown). It was open – I emailed DEWLP before visiting to confirm opening hours and I would encourage everyone to do the same. In addition to signing in at the reception, masks and QR code check-in are now requirements of entry.

    We visited the library to learn more about land acquired by our ancestor in South Gippsland in the 1850s/1860s, so we followed your guide on locating memorials by searching the name of our ancestor in the indexes for both the First Series and the Second Series.

    One important thing to note is that the First and Second Series indexes only list memorial book and folio numbers where the person was the (1) seller or the (2) mortgagor. Therefore, to find memorials where the person was the (3) buyer or the (4) mortgagee, you have to look up other people’s names in the indexes to then find relevant memorial book and folio numbers.

    Some ways we did this include:
    – When you find the list of memorials related to the person you are searching, take note of the other parties named in the memorials. Then find the index pages for these people which may lead you to more memorials relevant in your search. For example, in Susie’s example for Edmond Buckley, the index page contained two memorials involving Patrick Coady and one memorial involving J A Goold. I would recommend looking up the index pages for Patrick Coady and J A Goold as these pages may contain memorials relevant to Edmond Buckley.
    – Try searching alternative spellings/middle names. We came across some memorials relating to our ancestor with misspelt names. E.g. Patrick Coady is also known as Patrick Coady Buckley.
    – Look up descendants in the indexes as they may have inherited land from the person you are researching.
    – If you know from whom the person you are researching purchased land (e.g. from Trove research, etc), look up their names in the indexes.
    – If you locate a memorial book and folio number, check the memorials before and after in the same book. For example, if the memorial is Book 115 Folio 863, check Book 115 Folio 862 and Book 115 Folio 864 as they may also be relevant (such as a mortgage).
    – Once you have located a memorial, make sure you read it carefully. Memorials might contain previous memorial book and folio numbers that you can then look up.
    – Check Wills & Probates on PROV before you go – sometimes they refer to memorial book and folio numbers you can search (such as in the affidavit of assets of the deceased).

    Beware that if the person you are researching has a very common name (e.g. John Smith), they will share the same index page with all people who share that name (e.g. all John Smiths). In this case, it may take a while to determine which memorials are relevant to your search.

    We spent around five hours in the library and we located fifteen memorials relating to our ancestor, which was very exciting for us! Thanks again Susie.

    • admin

      Hi Cameron,

      So pleased you found it helpful. And I agree with your other suggestions however I didn’t want to get too specific with some of it as there are a lot of conditions / ifs / buts / maybes associated with searching Old Law Titles and land ownership.

      At this stage it could still be a couple of years before all items from the Laverton Archives are moved to PROV at North Melbourne – the finding aids are all supposed to be available before they are moved. BUT it won’t be the hard copies we will be able to access at North Melbourne, but the digital copies and finding aids.

      So it will all be very different. It will be exciting but a new learning curve all over again.

      Did you get to find the Application Files – they are magnificent as they combine all of the other steps into those documents.

      Always learning and I don’t think it will every end.

      • Cameron

        We noticed that many of the memorial books had a ‘scanned’ sticker on the side. Land Information System Tasmania provides online access to all historic Tasmanian deeds and memorials between 1827-1972. From oral history, we knew our ancestor owned quite a lot of land in South Gippsland, but using this website, we discovered that he also owned a house in Battery Point, Hobart! It’s truly amazing what you can find out thanks to digitisation.

        We didn’t check any Application Files – we found a few AP numbers written on memorials relating to our ancestor so it’s on our to-do list for when we return to the library. It seems quite a lot of the land owned by our ancestor has not yet been converted to Torrens Title.

        Thanks again for your great guide. It was such a fun and exciting challenge for us!

  8. admin

    Hi Cameron,

    Unfortunately our government SOLD our Land Titles to a private commercial company so they are or will all be online but for a cost.

    Once they are transferred to PROV North Melbourne archives they will be accessible as digital copies (to preserve the originals) but you will still need to visit to access them for free – same as applies at Laverton but at North Melbourne. And the finding aids will be easier than at Laverton.

    The AP Files are the first thing I go for – they will list all the Memorials and details so it all depends if you have the information from current titles working back and therefore through the AP Files, otherwise you start at the beginning.

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