1832 - Busby, J. Authentic Information relative to New South Wales and New Zealand - APPENDIX B. ALIENATION OF CROWN LANDS, p xvi-xxviii

E N Z B       
       Home   |  Browse  |  Search  |  Variant Spellings  |  Links  |  EPUB Downloads
Feedback  |  Conditions of Use      
  1832 - Busby, J. Authentic Information relative to New South Wales and New Zealand - APPENDIX B. ALIENATION OF CROWN LANDS, p xvi-xxviii
Previous section | Next section      


[Image of page xvi]



It will be seen by the documents hereafter quoted, that the principle contended for by the writer, in his paper on the alienation of Crown Lands, has been carried to a much greater extent in the new system of regulations adopted by his Majesty's Government. The Governors of the Australasian Colonies having been altogether divested of the prerogative of alienating Crown Lands by free grant.

Those who are aware how much of the ill-feeling manifested towards the late Governor, had its origin in the disappointment of the unreasonable demands of individuals for grants of land and other favours, which it was a part of the Governor's duty to dispense, will feel it to be a subject of congratulation that the present Governor is relieved from the false position, with regard to the colonists, in which previous Governors were placed by the "irksome and ungracious task," as it is most justly designated by Lord Goderich, of endeavouring to give satisfaction to all the applicants for land, and to reconcile their contending interests. It is to be feared, however, the withdrawing of the inducement of a grant of land will tend to prevent the emigration of settlers of capital to a much greater extent than would be the case, were persons in this country better informed as to the real value of such an inducement. It has long been the opinion of the writer, that the extreme facility of procuring grants of land, has been not only injurious to the colony in general, but to many of the individuals whom it was intended to favour. The following extracts from a paper submitted to Governor Darling, in August, 1829, relative to the measure then under consideration, for granting lands as an encouragement to matrimony among the young people of the colony, will illustrate the view he then took, and still continues to take of this question.

"I have often considered it a misfortune to the young men of the colony that grants of land have been so easily obtained, as their views have thereby, I think, been directed to a wrong object. They have looked too much to the prospect of obtaining land, and too little to their own exertions. It is, I understand, a general remark in the Hawksbury districts, that small settlers who were in penury, when in possession of the fee simple of their farms, became wealthy when they were reduced to the state of tenants.

"This undoubtedly arose from the very natural illusion of expecting too much from their property in the soil; and forgetting that in a new country, where land is abundant, its productive power enters in a very minute degree into a calculation of the profit which is derived from its cultivation. Of so great importance, in my opinion, is the value of the labour of the agriculturist, when compared with that of the land in this colony, that I think the worst lesson a settler, unless very wealthy, can teach his children, is to look forward to the prospect of commencing life as landed proprietors. Without the industry and frugality of the proprietor, the most productive farm will soon slip from his hands. And he who commenced life with the industrious

[Image of page xvii]

and frugal habits of a farmer, who feels that he must depend upon his own exertions to raise a rent for his landlord, as well as to provide for his family, will soon be able to become the proprietor instead of the tenant of his farm."

"It is because it tends to perpetuate the illusion of attaching too high a value to the possession of lands, that I think the measure chiefly exceptionable; but there is another objection which is not without its force. Most, if not all of the first-rate soils of the colony which are within reach of a market for agricultural produce, are now granted away, and it will consequently be necessary for the new grants to be selected, either of inferior soil, or at such a distance in the interior, as to make it impossible that their agricultural produce should be taken to market with advantage. Now, as this measure is chiefly intended to apply to persons of limited means, --and it can never be the interest of such persons to retire to the interior, where the land is only valuable to the possessors of large flocks and herds, --the alternative of selecting lands of inferior quality in the settled districts would, in all probability, be most generally resorted to. There is however no principle in political economy more universally true, than that it cannot be for the interest of the community that inferior soils should be brought into cultivation, while any of a first-rate quality, in the same neighbourhood, remain untouched. And it will consequently follow that, in so far as the measure leads to the cultivation of inferior soils, it will divert labour from a more profitable employment, and be the cause of a proportionate diminution of the public wealth.

"In the above observations I have viewed the subject with almost exclusive reference to agriculture, because I can only contemplate the measure as beneficial so far as it applies to the class of agriculturists who are not sufficiently wealthy to depend upon the produce of their flocks and herds. The exorbitant profits which the graziers, till of late, realized, have hitherto diverted the attention of the agricultural population too much from cultivation. But I think the period is at hand when the necessity of increasing the quantity and variety of agricultural products will be apparent; and when the pursuits of the grazier will be considered as secondary to cultivation in the settled districts, and be followed on a large scale, and as a separate occupation, by a distinct class in the interior. In such a state of things, it will soon be ascertained that a small grant of land will be of little value in the interior; and that it will be more for the interest of all parties that the choice lands of the old districts which are still, to a very great extent, occupied as pasture lands, should be rented for cultivation to persons of small capital, whose chief dependence ought to be their own exertions, than that such persons should be induced, by becoming themselves small proprietors, to waste their industry on an ungrateful soil."

"If there is any truth in these observations, I think it will follow that, if there are any real impediments in the way of matrimonial connexions among the youth of the colony, they are not such as the measure under consideration would remove; and I think it is open to the double objection, of tending to encourage among them a delusive expectation that comfort and independence are to be acquired by other means than by their own industry and frugality; and of leading those who may see the advantages of industry, to an unprofitable expenditure of those exertions on an inferior soil, which, if more judiciously

[Image of page xviii]

bestowed on fertile ground, would enable them not only to pay a rent to the proprietor, but to raise themselves to competency and independence.

Under the influence of these views, I am led to the belief that the general cultivation and substantial improvement of the colony would proceed more rapidly, and that the exertions of individuals would sooner be more uniformly directed to their most profitable employment, were the Government to abstain as much as possible from disposing of lands, except by sale at the highest prices that can be procured, unless to those who can prefer a claim for services rendered, or to those who have emigrated to the colony on the faith of receiving grants. But I think it unquestionable, that the adoption by the Government of such a measure as the one proposed, could not fail to be influential on the minds of many of the young people of the colony, who are restrained by few moral or religious impressions; as its details would afford the means of impressing most strongly upon them the disapprobation with which all illicit connexions are viewed by their superiors; and the favour with which they are disposed to regard such as shew a disposition, by entering into the married state, to become the settled and industrious heads of a respectable family."

It will be seen that these passages were intended chiefly to refer to persons with small means; but they also apply, though not to the same extent, to capitalists. The capitalist, by the inducement of a free grant, might be tempted to settle himself upon a piece of land, either at too great a distance from market, to allow of his disposing, for many years to come, of any surplus agricultural produce, or of so poor a quality, that it would not, under any circumstances, repay him the expense of its cultivation; and in either case it might prove a much less profitable investment of capital, than if he were to purchase an Estate from a private individual nearer the older settled districts.

In point of fact, few of the settlers of capital who had arrived for some time before the writer left the colony, in February, 1831, had found it for their interest to take possession of their grant of land, by residing, or even by sending an overseer to reside upon it; and many settlers who had done so at an earlier period, were looking out for a homestead to rent or purchase, in order that their families might not be altogether buried in the wilderness. There never has been a period when it was not possible to purchase much more valuable land than any the Government had to grant, (excluding the church reserves) at a much less rate than the minimum of 5s. per acre, now demanded by the Government; and it is not probable that sales will be made at that price for many years to come. The greatest portion of the land unlocated to individuals, is only valuable for pasturage, and its value must consequently be regulated by the profits of pasturage, until all the first rate lands in the same neighbourhood have been brought into cultivation, and it has become necessary, in order to supply the wants of an increasing population, to have recourse to the cultivation of inferior soils. But when the extent of surface, over which the colony is scattered, (nearly 300 miles in length by 200 in breadth) is considered, it is evident that this state of things cannot take place probably for a century to come; and, indeed, when the dryness and uncertainty of the climate are taken into account, it is doubtful whether, under any closeness of population, the greater portion of the pasture lands will ever repay the labour of their cultivation. On the other hand, the value of these lands, for the purposes of pasture, in the settled districts must

[Image of page xix]

always be regulated by the expense of keeping flocks and herds in the unlocated lands of the interior, where the Goverment will lease their lands for whatever rent it may be the interest of the stockholder to pay.

When, therefore, it is considered that it would be better for a settler of capital to purchase an estate from a private individual, than to receive a grant of any of the land still unlocated in the settled districts; and that to procure a grant which would contain a fair proportion of good arable land, he would have to select it, at such a distance in the interior, as to be of no value save for pasturage, beyond the consumption of his own establishment, it will appear that the emigrant who now settles in the colony, is not deprived of so great a boon as would at first sight appear to be the case, by his not receiving a grant of land. For it ought to be kept in mind that the old grants, after the first seven years, are subject to a quit rent of two-pence an acre; and assuming, for the reasons above stated, that it would not be the interest of the new settler to occupy his grant save for pasturage, it is doubtful whether a mere pastoral farm in the settled districts, or a farm fit for cultivation, but situated beyond the reach of markets for agricultural produce, would be on these terms, and under all circumstances, a very desirable property, --at least, for many years to come.

If, then, the writer were called upon to give a general opinion as to the advantages which New South Wales holds out to capitalists, he would say that they are actually much greater now than they were seven years ago, when so many were induced, by high coloured statements, to emigrate, with the hope of making a fortune in a few years, and living in the mean time, in possession of most of the luxuries and conveniences of an old country. Deeply impressed with the criminality of exciting hopes which might never be realized, the writer is anxious to express himself with extreme caution in giving an opinion, which might influence a single individual to undertake so serious a step as to emigrate from his native country. He is aware how ready persons who are contemplating such a step, are to seize upon every favourable expression, and to build upon it, more than it was ever intended to convey; and he has in more cases than one, witnessed the most painful revulsion of feeling, on the part of persons who had been misled by the exaggerated statements of interested persons, or the high-coloured descriptions of writers, whose only object was to sell their books, and who thought it no crime to romance upon a subject, upon which even a few inconsiderate expressions might influence the future happiness of hundreds.

He can, however, say with perfect confidence, that he never met with an individual, (and his official situation gave him ample opportunities for making the enquiry,) who had been bred to agricultural pursuits in this country, that was not perfectly satisfied with the change he had made, after he had been long enough in the colony to form a correct estimate of his prospects; and--though it may seem singular to those unacquainted with the charms of an Italian sky, --by far the greater portion of those who have been led incidentally to visit the colony, have eventually returned to settle in it. Indeed the writer has met with few individuals who had once lived there, that did not express a desire to return. The horror of a convict population, which many persons, ignorant of the colony, are apt to indulge, in contemplating a residence among them, is in general soon dissipated, when the actual state of things is known. Many of the convicts are, without doubt, irreclaimable, but the strict control under which they are held, and the summary measures pursued towards them, prevent, in a great degree, the mischief their conduct would otherwise occasion: and by far the greater proportion really conduct themselves much better than might be expected, provided

[Image of page xx]

they are treated by their masters considerately and kindly, or even with common justice; for those who are most ready to trespass upon the rights of others, are least able to bear the slightest encroachment upon their own.

The writer has no hesitation in stating his belief, that those of the agricultural portion of the community who have made up their minds to emigration, or those who find their situation in Great Britain or Ireland gradually growing worse, but have still some capital left, will most materially alter their circumstances for the better by removing to New South Wales. Indeed, from all he has been able to learn of other colonies, he is satisfied that there is no part of the world (except perhaps the sister colony of Van Diemen's Land,) where steadiness of conduct, joined to industrious and frugal habits, will procure so large a portion of the good things of life; and where a large family could, with such facility, place themselves in circumstances of independence, and even of wealth, always excluding the idea of returning to England with a fortune. This has been done in a good many instances, but the time is past for doing so again, at least, by agriculture and grazing.

From the prices at which land and live stock could be purchased when the writer left the colony, (in February, 1831,) he is of opinion that a person disembarking at Sydney, with 1000l. or 1500l. clear of the expenses of his voyage, could have established himself, (purchase of land included) better than if he had arrived in the colony five years sooner, with half as much more capital, and the privilege of a grant of land. It is probable that the alteration of the land regulations may have, in some degree, raised the prices of land, but not in such a degree, as materially to prevent the success of persons who have been accustomed to manage their own affairs with the industry and application which are absolutely necessary in England to secure to an agriculturist, a bare subsistence for his family; and which indeed, it is to be feared, will not always secure even a frugal subsistence.

To persons of larger capital the colony offers means of investment, which, without either trouble or risk, will always yield from twice to three times the interest it would yield in England. To smaller capitalists down to the individual who can only command from 100l. to 200l. the advantages are equally great in proportion; but of course, the smaller the capital, the more will the personal exertions of the capitalist be required. Those whose capital is not sufficient to enable them to purchase land in the outset, will have no difficulty in renting; but unless, upon the specific recommendation of some one resident in the colony, who knows their particular circumstances and views, and to whose judgment they could trust, the writer would recommend emigration to New South Wales to none, who do not either possess sufficient capital to live upon the interest it would yield; or such a knowledge of agriculture, as to employ a smaller capital beneficially on land; or who have not been accustomed to earn their bread by the labour of their hands, and the sweat of their brow, either in the pursuits of agriculture, or in some of the more useful handicraft trades.

Extracts from Papers printed by order of the House of Commons, relative to Crown Lands, and Emigration to New South Wales.

DESPATCH from Viscount GODERICH to Lieut-General DARLING, &c. &c. &c.

Downing Street, 9th January, 1831.

My attention has lately been drawn to the present system of granting land in the colony over which you preside, in consequence of

[Image of page xxi]

finding, on my assuming the seals of this department, that answers had not been returned to your last despatches upon this point; and the conclusion to which I have come, after a careful investigation of the subject, and after considering the various documents relating to it in this office is, first, that the regulations now in force have not had the intended effect of preventing large tracts of land from being appropriated by persons unable to improve and cultivate them; and, secondly, that they are founded upon an erroneous view of the true interest both of the colony and of the mother country.

The comparative return of the quantities of land granted, cleared, and cultivated, affords the most decisive proof how little the regulation, requiring cultivation, has been attended to. This result does not surprise me, nor do I think it implies any want of activity on the part of those whose duty it is to enforce compliance with the condition referred to. The term cultivation is so vague, the amount of capital required to be expended is so small, and the difficulty is so great of resuming a grant after seven years, (until the expiration of which, no right of interference exists), that I am inclined to believe that any serious attempt generally to act up to the regulations, would be odious and invidious in the extreme, and at last fail to surmount the obstacles with which it must necessarily be met. But though the existing regulations have not prevented grants of land from being obtained for other purposes than the legitimate one of occupation and cultivation, there is no doubt that they must have been the cause of no trifling inconvenience (from the restrictions imposed on the transfer of land, and from the necessity of proving the possession of a certain capital) to those who bona fide entertained such intentions. The Government they have placed in the disagreeable situation of either suffering regulations they have sanctioned to become a dead letter, or of even interfering in a manner which must necessarily have the appearance of being arbitrary and capricious, from the impossibility of laying down any positive rule, or defining exactly the required degree of cultivation.

The scheme of deriving a revenue from quit-rents, seems to me also to be condemned both by reason and experience. The difficulty and expenses of collecting them cannot be expected to diminish while the great bulk of the land on which they are due continues unimproved; and when it shall be cultivated, the increase of population and wealth, which such a state of things supposes, will render the revenue to be derived from so small a tax as two-pence an acre, of trifling importance and easily to be supplied from other sources.

There is also another and very strong objection to the existing system, viz. the suspicion to which it unavoidably exposes the Colonial authorities of improper partiality to individuals. I am sure you must have found the impossibility of giving satisfaction to all the applicants for land, and reconciling contending interests, and that you will gladly be relieved from the irksome and ungracious task of endeavouring to do so.

In calling your attention to the second question which I proposed; namely, whether or not (supposing them to have been as effectual as could be desired) the existing regulations were founded on correct views of the true interest of the mother country and of the colonies; I must in the first place observe, that I conceive these views to have been directed chiefly to promote the greatest possible extension of cultivation, and the emigration of persons possessed of more or less capital. Considering emigration as a means of relieving the Mother Country, it is quite clear that no such relief can possibly be afforded by the mere removal of capitalists, that it is the emigration of the

[Image of page xxii]

unemployed British labourers which would be of real and essential service, while I think it also appears that this would be the most useful class of emigrants, even as regards the colony, from the extreme difficulty which is now complained of in obtaining labourers, and the competition for the service of convicts, together with the glut which so frequently takes place of agricultural produce at the price at which, under the present system, it can be afforded. The latter circumstance seems likewise to prove that a mere extension of cultivation is much less desirable than is generally supposed. Wheat, it appears, is sometimes at so high a price as 14s. 9d. a bushel in Sydney, a price which even in this country would be deemed extravagant. Indeed I believe the average price of wheat in Sydney market would be found equal to that which it bears in Great Britain, and yet the want of demand for their produce is, to the colonists, a subject of loud and frequent complaint. These two apparently inconsistent evils, of a high price and a want of demand, lead me to believe that cultivation has been too widely extended, and that it would have been more for the interests of the colony if the settlers, instead of spreading themselves over so great an extent of territory, had rather applied themselves to the more effectual improvement and cultivation of a narrower surface. With concert and mutual assistance, the result of the same labour would probably have been a greater amount of produce, and the cost of transporting it to market would have been a less heavy item in the total cost of production. A different course, however, has been pursued, chiefly, as it appears, owing to the extreme facility of acquiring land, by which every man has been encouraged to become a proprietor, producing what he can by his own unassisted efforts. If these views be correct, what is now required is to check this extreme facility, and to encourage the formation of a class of labourers for hire, as the only means of creating a market for the agricultural produce of the colony, of effecting various improvements, and of prosecuting the many branches of industry which are now neglected, while, at the same time, by enabling the agriculturist to apply the great principle of the division of labour, his produce will be increased and afforded at a more reasonable rate.

To carry these views into full effect would, perhaps, require greater alterations than can at present conveniently be adopted. Something has, however, been already done by the alteration of the law which renders indentures entered into by labourers, more binding than they have heretofore been, thereby holding out some additional inducement to those possessed of the means, to assist in defraying the expense of their emigration.

Another and important advance towards a better system may, I think, be made by a measure, simple and easy in itself, and which will at the same time have much more effect in preventing the occupation of land by persons unable or unwilling to improve it, than the present complicated and, in practice, nugatory regulations. The measure to which I allude, is that of declaring that in future no land whatever shall be disposed of otherwise than by sale, a minimum price (say five shillings an acre) being fixed, but this price not to be accepted until upon proper notice it shall appear that no one is prepared to offer more, the highest bidder being in all cases entitled to the preference; ten per cent, on the whole of the purchase money, to be paid down at the time of sale, and the remainder at an early period after the sale, and previous to possession being granted. This last regulation I conceive to be of great importance, and it ought uniformly to be adhered

[Image of page xxiii]

to. When land was formly disposed of by sale, the plan seems to have failed in consequence of the long credit which was given.

Such is the general object of the Regulations which I hope shortly to be enabled to send out to you in more detail, and authorized by His Majesty's signature. In the meantime I should wish you to suspend all further grants of land, excepting to persons to whom you may already have made positive promises, and to those who may have received from this office the printed Regulations hitherto in force, and have proceeded to the colony on the faith of obtaining land accordingly. To immediate sales of land upon the principle I have laid down I do not object, if they can conveniently be effected before you receive more particular instructions.

I am, &c.
(signed) GODERICH.

DESPATCH from Viscount GODERICH to Lieutenant-General DARLING, &c. &c. &c.

Downing-street, 14th February1831.

I have the honour of transmitting to you his Majesty's instructions on the subject of my despatch of the 9th ultimo, together with copies of the printed terms which have in consequence been issued for the information of persons intending to become settlers, and of the General Order which has been promulgated to the army in reference to military officers. I take the opportunity of adding what further observations seem to be requisite, in order to enable you fully to understand the views which have led to the change of policy which will be thus carried into effect.

The first point to which I shall call your attention, is the omission of that part of your former instructions, by which you were required to reserve one-seventh of the Crown lands in each hundred and county, for the purpose of maintaining the church and school establishment.

This change has been made in compliance with the recommendation contained in the Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry already transmitted to you. The reasons they have assigned for this recommendation sufficiently prove the propriety of adopting it; I may add that as these lands, in their present state, are of little or no value, and any they may in future possess must be derived from the industry of the owners of the adjoining lands, any income to be derived from them for public purposes must in fact, like every other branch of the revenue, be a tax on the industry and capital of the colonist. It comes therefore simply to be a question, whether it is the best means of raising the sum which is required, a question on which there cannot be a doubt, when it is remembered that, while they cause a very serious inconvenience to the settlers, these reserves at the present moment do not even pay the expense of management; that the whole cost of the Church Establishment is defrayed out of the ordinary revenue; and that therefore the effect of the system is to lay a heavy tax on the Colony at the present moment, with a view to a future exemption from taxation. The policy of the proposed change is to afford an immediate relief, and to trust for the means of meeting the future expense of the Church Establishment to the same sources from which it is at present defrayed, and which will of course become more productive as the Colony advances in wealth and population: if that advance is promoted, as there is every reason to believe, by the sale of the lands

[Image of page xxiv]

hitherto reserved, they will by that means at least as effectually contribute to the relief of the revenue hereafter, as if they were retained in the hands of those by whom they are now managed.

The next subject to which I have to refer, is the manner in which Naval and Military Officers are to receive the advantages which it has been deemed right to afford them, in order to encourage their emigration.

It is obvious that grants cannot be made to any without entirely destroying the principle which I have been most anxious to establish, of all lands being indiscriminately offered for public competition; therefore propose that, whenever it is wished to favour either officers or individuals who have claims from their public services, it should be done not by making them grants of land, but by remitting a certain sum from the price of that which they may purchase. The general order which accompanies this Despatch has been framed accordingly.

It has been deemed right to discontinue the discretionary power which has hitherto been possessed, of refusing to individuals, under peculiar circumstances, the power of acquiring land. There might be very good reasons for withholding grants from persons of objectionable character, but these do not, it appears to me, apply when the question is whether they should be permitted to purchase; indeed I know not how such persons can give better security that they will not make an improper use of the wealth they may acquire than by converting it into land. I mention this in order to prevent the possibility of your misunderstanding that part of the printed terms delivered from this office, in which persons wishing to purchase are directed to apply for such portions of land as they may select. This is retained not to deprive those of the power of purchasing who may neglect to make such applications, but because it is supposed you may possibly avoid the inconvenience of exposing to sale land for which there is no demand, by knowing beforehand what is required. All regulations of detail as to the time and mode of sale, are for the consideration of yourself and the Council.

It is perhaps too much to expect that some difficulty should not at first be experienced in carrying into effect the proposed change of policy; such is almost always the case when a long established system, however faulty it may have been, is abandoned; I am therefore quite prepared to hear from you that it may for a time be impossible to effect sales of land, and of loud complaints from those who are desirous of obtaining grants. Representations will doubtless be made that the value fixed upon land is too high; that large tracts are necessary for grazing; that a great hardship is inflicted upon those whose applications have been too late; and that some warning ought to have been given of the proposed change. This last objection is perhaps plausible, but upon consideration is clearly without any real force, as it is obvious that any long warning of the change of system would in fact be to postpone its operation, for an indefinite period, from the number of grants which would be previously obtained.

With respect to the price which has been fixed upon land, it will, I doubt not, be thought extravagant by those who have been accustomed to obtain it, practically speaking, for nothing. Were the price not higher than that which it has hitherto been attempted to realize, it would not effect one of the chief objects in view, a great restriction of the extreme facility of acquiring land which now exists. This is absolutely essential for the purpose of checking the dispersion of settlers, to which is mainly to be attributed the heavy expense, in proportion to the population, of every branch of the colonial establishment. Every

[Image of page xxv]

facility which can be afforded to those who are engaged in rearing cattle, consistently with the attainment of this object, will be given, by continuing the practice of letting to the best bidder the lands which cannot be sold; it being however clearly understood that such lands are only to be let from year to year, and that if applied for they are to be exposed to sale according to the rules already laid down.

I have, in a former despatch, fully explained to you the reasons which have induced his Majesty's Government rather to trust to the interest of purchasers to secure their cultivating the land they may acquire, than to any regulations requiring them to do so, and preventing its alienation; it becomes, however, a question of some difficulty, what course is to be followed with regard to those to whom land has been already granted under such conditions. It is obvious, that if they are now allowed to dispose of it, they will obtain an advantage never contemplated at the time their grants were made; on the other hand, if prevented from doing so they may be unable to improve it, while until the expiration of seven years from the date of their grants their neglect would give to the Government no right to interfere, and it would therefore remain unproductive to the colony. Under these circumstances, a middle course perhaps will be the best, and I should wish you to consult your Council on the expediency of giving up the enforcement of the conditions referred to, and substituting for them a small tax on all uncultivated land; permitting, at the same time, the holders to dispose of it (notwithstanding the engagement they are under to the contrary) on the payment of a fine.

With respect to the arrears of quit-rents, I think it is a necessary consequence of the New Regulations that all claims to indulgence with regard to them should cease, and that those who have acquired their land on terms so much more favourable than will in future be granted, should at least be required to abide by the bargain they have made.

The same principle will apply to the instalments due on the lands purchased during the administration of Sir Thomas Brisbane, for the postponement of which a memorial from the parties interested was transmitted in your Despatch of the 28th of May, 1828, and which request appears to have been already refused by his Majesty's late Government.

I am, &c.
(signed) GODERICH,

DESPATCH from Viscount GODERICH to Major-General BOURKE, &c. &c. &c.

Downing-street, 10th July, 1831.

In addition to the instructions which have been conveyed to General Darling, relative to the disposal of Crown lands in New South Wales, and with reference to those parts of the Royal instructions which have been addressed to you relating to the same subject, I deem it necessary to explain to you in a separate Despatch, that although it is the wish of his Majesty's Government that all the public lands in the colony should, as a general principle, be put up to public auction, and although a minimum price of 5s. an acre has been named, yet that in mentioning that sum, it is not intended to deprive you of the discretionary power of fixing a higher price on land to which its situation gives a peculiar value, and of keeping it out of the market until that price can be determined. Five shillings was intended to be the minimum price for land possessing no peculiar advantages; but as the reserves which have

[Image of page xxvi]

hitherto been retained in the settled districts, and which are now to be offered for sale, must be of much higher value, care must be taken that they are not, by a forced sale, disposed of for less than they are really worth. The principle of competition will, in general, prevent this from taking place; but when a considerable quantity of land is thrown suddenly upon the market, (particularly as ready money payments are required,) it may very possibly happen, that by the absence of any one with the means of bidding against them, individuals may be enabled to obtain land much below its real value. To prevent this from happening, you will not permit any land, either in the settled districts, or in situations otherwise particularly valuable, to be put up for sale, except at a price calculated, not upon that which it may be likely immediately to command in the market, but upon that which it ought to bear upon a fair comparison of its value, in reference to what has been fixed upon ordinary waste lands. In order that no disappointment to individuals may occur, from their entertaining an expectation of being able to purchase such lands at a cheaper rate than these instructions will allow, it will be advisable that maps should as soon as possible, be publicly exhibited in the Surveyor-General's office, in which the prices of the several lots, calculated on the principle I have laid down, should be distinctly marked.

I am, &c.
(signed) GODERICH.

TERMS upon which the Crown Lands will be disposed of in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land.

It has been determined by his Majesty's Government, that no land shall in future be disposed of in New South Wales or Van Diemen's Land, otherwise than by public sale, and it has therefore been deemed expedient to prepare, for the information of settlers, the following Summary of the Rules which it has been thought fit to lay down for regulating the sales of land in those colonies.

1. --A division of the whole territory into counties, hundreds and parishes, is in progress. When that division shall be completed, each parish will comprise an area of about twenty-five square miles.

2. -All the lands in the colony, not hitherto granted, and not appropriated for public purposes, will be put up to sale. The price will of course depend upon the quality of the land, and its local situation; but no land will be sold below the rate of five shillings per acre.

3. --All persons proposing to purchase lands not advertised for sale, must transmit a written application to the Governor, in a certain prescribed form, which will be delivered at the Surveyor-General's office, to all persons applying, on payment of the requisite fee of two shillings and sixpence.

4. --Those persons who are desirous of purchasing, will be allowed to select, within certain defined limits, such portions of land as they may wish to acquire in that manner, These portions of land will be avertised for sale for three calendar months, and will then be sold to the highest bidder, provided that such bidding shall at least amount to the price fixed by Article 2.

[Image of page xxvii]

5. --A deposit of 10 per cent, upon the whole value of the purchase must he paid down at the time of sale, and the remainder must be paid within one calendar month from the day of sale, previous to which the purchaser will not be put in possession of the land; and in case of payment not being made within the prescribed period, the sale will be considered void, and the deposit forfeited.

6. --On payment of the money, a grant will be made in fee-simple to the purchaser at the nominal quit-rent of a pepper-corn. Previous to the delivery of such grant, a fee of forty-shillings will be payable to the Colonial Secretary for preparing the grant, and another fee of five shillings to the Registrar of the Supreme Court for enrolling it.

7. --The land will generally be put up to sale in lots of one square mile, or 640 acres; but smaller lots than 640 acres may, under particular circumstances, be purchased, on making application to the Governor in writing, with full explanations of the reasons for which the parties wish to purchase a smaller quantity.

8. --The Crown reserves to itself the right of making and constructing such roads and bridges as may be necessary for public purposes in all lands purchased as above, and also to such indigenous timber, stone and other materials, the produce of the land, as may be required for making and keeping the said roads and bridges in repair, and for any other public works. The Crown further reserves to itself all mines of precious metals.

Colonial Office, 20th January, 1831.


Horse Guards, 24th February, 1831.

HIS MAJESTY'S Government having deemed it expedient to substitute new regulations for those hitherto in force concerning the system of granting land in the Australian Colonies, and under which no land will in future be disposed of otherwise than by public sale, it has become necessary to make a corresponding change in the arrangements which have been in force with respect to the Military Settlers, and which have been published to the Army in the General Orders, dated 8th June 1826, 16th May 1827, and 24th August 1827.

His Majesty has accordingly been graciously pleased to declare, that all the advantages held out to the officers of the Army under those Orders, as far as relates to the sale of commissions, shall continue and remain in force; and with a view that each individual officer may derive the same benefit from an allotment of land as has been held out in the said Orders respectively, His Majesty has been pleased to command that the following regulations shall be promulgated, for the information and guidance of officers who may be disposed to become settlers in New South Wales and Van-Diemen's Land, in substitution for those contained in the General Orders adove referred to.

The officers of the Army wishing to become settlers, shall, like all other individuals, procure land by purchase only at the public sales; but they will be entitled to a remission of the purchase money to the following amount, provided they shall produce testimonials of unexceptionable character from the General Commanding in Chief.

[Image of page xxviii]

Officers who have served twenty years and upwards shall have a remission of £300.

Officers who have served fifteen years and upwards, £250.

Officers who have served ten years and upwards, £200.

Officers who have served seven years and less than ten, £150.

Each individual officer who may obtain this remission will be required to give security that he and his family shall reside at least seven years in the settlement; and he will also be required to provide for his own passage to the Colony, as well as for that of his family.

By Command of the Right Honourable the General Commanding in Chief,

John Macdonald, Adjutant General.

J. Cross, Printer, 18, Holborn, opposite Furnival's Inn.

Previous section | Next section