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Births, deaths and marriages: SA Deaths

This State Library of South Australia guide includes information on cemeteries, church records, burials and probate (wills). Information for other states is also included.

Deaths on emigrant ships 1849 - 1867

There are no official records for most of the deaths which occurred at sea while on the journey to South Australia. 

In 1866 the South Australian government released a listing of those who had died on board emigrant ships between 1849 and 5 June 1865.  This list is available on the State Records of South Australia website in a PDF format.

A printed copy of the original list with additional deaths for the period up to 1867 can be viewed at the State Library: Deaths on board emigrant ships ... 1849-1867.

Cemetery records online

Adelaide Cemeteries Authority - records for West Terrace, Cheltenham, Enfield and Smithfield cemeteries

Centennial Park - Adelaide's major crematorium and cemetery established in 1936

Barossa Council Cemeteries - Local Government Association website

Australian Cemeteries - A project of the Oz Gen Online network for free Australian genealogical information - This international website has an Australian section

Billion Graves - Another international website with an Australian component, including photographs of headstones

Hospital & Asylum Records

The main source for records of deaths in hospitals and asylums is the government archives, State Records of South Australia.

Early Adelaide Hospital and Destitute Asylum records usually include useful details of the inmate's arrival in South Australia.

Hospital Admission Registers (State Records)

Destitute Asylum Admissions (State Records)

How do I get a certificate?

There will not necessarily be more information on the certificate than is recorded on the indexes. Graham Jaunay's website lists the information available from certificates over time. However, you may wish to obtain a copy of a certificate for your own records.

Copies of certificates can be purchased from the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Office.

More recent certificates may be limited to the person named, their parents or their children.  You may need to provide proof of identity for non-historical certificates.  

Apply for a certificate online.


Official birth, death and marriage registration was not introduced in South Australia until 1842.

The Library has the CD-ROM South Australia pre-civil registration deaths. This is also available on the Find My Past (subscription) database.

Deaths 1802-1842 is a compilation of early South Australian deaths created by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages from a variety of sources available on microfilm at the Library. 


Indexes for deaths following the introduction of civil registration were created by the South Australian Genealogy Society for the years 1842 to 1993. These are available at the State Library and include details of gender, age, marital status, residence, date and place of death, relative/ informant's name and relationship to the deceased.

Some death records were omitted from the 1916-1972 indexes. A list of these missing deaths (most from 1945) appears on Graham Jaunay's website.

If you still cannot find a death, District Registers may help. These are duplicate copies of births, deaths and marriages originally held by local authorities at the place of registration - usually a police station or local council. Sometimes these are the only copy which survived. 

The Gerald A. Savill Index to Funeral Notices in the Advertiser, 1971 - onward

The The Gerald A. Savill Index of Advertiser funeral notices compiled by Gerald Savill is available on the State Library website. It covers the period from 1971 onwards.

The next step is to visit the State Library and view and copy the notice from the Advertiser microfilm or you can order copies of individual notices via the Ask Us service. 

St Mary's Church, South Road, c. 1910 (B 23387)

Information in newspapers

You may be able to find information about a death in newspaper personal notices or news reports on Trove.

The State Library holds South Australian newspaper obituaries 1836-1900 which includes name of the deceased, place and date of death, full newspaper reference and BDM Registry reference.

You can also check the The Adelaide chronicle personal notices index (1921-1924) on microfilm at the State Library.

The library catalogue includes a number of references to articles about South Australian people from selected newspapers, magazines, books and pamphlets.

Graham Jaunay's website contains SA death notices.

The Ryerson Index

Obituaries & Personal Notices online

Other useful sources

Deaths from the South Australian government gazettes, 1845-1941, including the Northern Territory until December 1910. by Georgina Bliss can be browsed in print at the State Library.

The State Library holds records for many Anglican, Presbyterian, Congregational, Methodist and Uniting churches in South Australia, including baptism, marriage and burial records. The Library also has microfilm of Jewish records.

Check our list of church records for availability. These must be viewed in the Library. Specific searches may be possible for those unable to visit the Library by providing full details through a request to the Ask Us service.

South Australian wills and indexes

Original copies of South Australian wills are held in the Probate Registry at the Supreme Court, Victoria Square. A fee is required to obtain a copy of a will. Applications can be made online.

The Library holds some probate indexes: