NSW Lands Department User Guides

The NSW Lands Department, or Land and Property Management Authority as they prefer to be known [or Land and Property Information as they are now known – 2012], have reformatted and republished their collection of User Guides. Here is a complete list, blatantly lifted from their website:

First Stop Guide to the Records of the Registrar General (PDF 1.2MB)
Published 20 Apr 2011

The First Stop Guide is the first of five publications that detail the history of and information about searching and accessing land titling records in NSW. This guide aims to be your “First Stop” in helping you decide which publication(s) suits your particular searching needs.

A Brief History of the Records of the Registrar General (PDF 3.1MB)
Published 20 Apr 2011

This publication offers a brief history of the Office of the Registrar General since its inception in 1843 and the records it holds which date back to 1792. It also describes how land was initially acquired and consequently managed.

Old System Information and Search Guide (PDF 9.8MB)
Published 20 Apr 2011

This guide explains the intricacies of Old System land title and offers advice and tips on how to search the indexes and documents that have been registered with the Registrar General since New South Wales (NSW) was founded.

Searching the Registrar General’s Maps and Plans (PDF 4.7MB)
Published 20 Apr 2011

This guide has been prepared to provide a reference guide to Land and Property Information (LPI) mapping and plan resources and as a research tool for historical inquiry.

Torrens Title Information and Search Guide (PDF 5.0MB)
Published 20 Apr 2011

This guide describes how Torrens title information has been recorded historically and offers practical information on how to locate current and historical Torrens title information.

I haven’t examined them in detail as yet, but on first inspection they appear to be much more manageable and more concise than the old ones. The Old System Information and Search Guide is 45 pages and is much clearer and more friendly than the old 148-page User Guide to Old System Searching published in December 2009.

Here is an example. This is the first page of Chapter 1 of the old (2009) and new (2011) versions:

NSW Lands old Old System Guide Chapter 12009

NSWLands Old System Guide Chapter 12011

No comparison really. The descriptive text appears to be the same, at least in the first few pages, but the explanations are much clearer.

I recommend you go and find these guides if you have any interest in land and property in New South Wales. Researchers from other States are also likely to find the explanations useful, as the types of land records are similar in all States.

With grateful thanks to the NSW Land and Property Management Authority

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers

The Colonies of Australia were often discussed in the British Parliament, and much of the relevant correspondence and reports were printed and distributed for the information of the Members. The success of the colonies, convicts, immigration, churches; all were subjects of interest to the  Parliament. Although rarely mentioning individuals by name these reports can be very useful to historians.

The Parliamentary Papers for the British House of Commons have been digitised and categorised for the use of researchers. The website is http://parlipapers.chadwyck.co.uk but you need to have a login and password to enter it.

Fortunately, if you have a Library Card from the National Library of Australia you can access the site for free. Just go to the Library’s homepage and click on eResources in the top right hand corner. Here you can enter your Library Card number and your family name. If you don’t have a Library Card you can request one, and it will be posted within a couple of weeks.

Once you’ve logged in using your Library Card go down to Find a resource and type in ‘House of Commons’. Accept the terms and conditions. If you then Browse Subject Catalogue you need to get down to The dominions and colonies:

Parliamentary Papers for Australia and New Zealand

I suggest you have a good look around in here, depending on your interest. If we open the Australian settlementswe can see:

Australian settlements

Here is a partial list of results for Convicts:

1834 (82) Secondary punishment. (Australia.) Correspondence, on the subject of secondary punishment.

1834 (614) Secondary punishment. (Australia.) Further correspondence on the subject of secondary punishment.

1841 Session 1 (412) Secondary punishment. (New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land.) Return to an address of the Honourable the House of Commons, dated 7 June 1841;–for, copies or extracts of any correspondence between the Secretary of State and the Governor of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, on the subject of secondary punishment.

1851 (130) Convict discipline and transportation. Copies of all petitions on the subject of convict discipline and transportation, which have been presented to the House of Commons from any part of Australia or Van Diemen’s Land since the year 1838, with the number of signatures attached to each petition.

1851 (280) Convict discipline and transportation. Copies of all petitions on the subject of convict discipline and transportation, which have been presented to Her Majesty, from any part of Australia or Van Diemen’s Land, since the year 1838, with the number of signatures attached to each petition.

1854 [1795] Convict discipline and transportation. Australian colonies. Further correspondence on the subject of convict discipline and transportation (in continuation of papers presented July 18, 1853.)

1854-55 [1916] [1988] Australian colonies. Convict discipline and transportation. Further correspondence on the subject of convict discipline and transportation. (In continuation of papers presented May 1854.)

1856 [2101] Australian colonies. Convict discipline and transportation. Further correspondence on the subject of convict discipline and transportation. (In continuation of papers presented August 1855.)

1857 Session 1 [2197] Australian colonies. Convict discipline and transportation. Further correspondence on the subject of convict discipline and transportation. (In continuation of papers presented 2 June 1856.)

1860 (454) Convicts (Western Australia, &c.). Returns of the total cost to the Imperial Treasury of the convict establishments in Western Australia, including the expense of transporting convicts thereto, and the military charges thereat; the estimated European population in each of the Australian colonies, &c.; also, copies of the acts now in force in the several Australian colonies and the Cape of Good Hope for preventing the introduction of persons convicted of felony.

1861 [2796] Australian colonies. Convict discipline and transportation. Further correspondence on the subject of convict discipline and transportation.

1863 (505) Transportation (Australia). Copies of memorials received by the Secretary of State for the Colonies since 1 January 1863, in favour of or against transportation to any part of Australia; of addresses to Her Majesty from the legislative bodies in Australia on the same subject; of minutes or addresses by executive councils in Australia on the same subject, which have been transmitted to the Secretary of State; and, of the resolution adopted by the conference of delegates from New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, which recently met at Melbourne.

1864 [3357] Transportation. Copies or extracts of despatches lately received from the governors of the Australian colonies. With petitions against the continuance of transportation.

1865 [3424] Correspondence relative to the discontinuance of transportation.

Here is a partial list for New South Wales settlements:

1810 (45) A return of the number of persons, male or female, who have been transported as criminals to New South Wales since the first establishment of the colony: specifying, the term for which each person was transported;–the date and place of conviction;–and the time of embarkation to New South Wales: (except 607 persons, who were transported as criminals to New South Wales in the spring of 1787.)

1810-11 (38) A return of the number of persons, male or female, who have been transported as criminals to New South Wales since the month of August 1809; specifying the term for which each person was transported;–the date and place of conviction; and the time of embarkation.

1812 (97) A return of the number of persons, male and female, who have been transported as criminals to New South Wales, since the month of July 1810; specifying, the term for which each person was transported; the date and place of conviction; and, the time of embarkation.

1814-15 (354) An account of the number of persons, male and female,–(distinguishing and stating the ages of those under 21 years of age,)–who have been transported as criminals to New South Wales, in the years 1812, 1813, 1814, and 1815. 1.

1816 (314) An account of the number of convicts who have died in their passage to New South Wales, since the year 1810; distinguishing the names of the ships in which the deaths have occurred.

1816 (315) An account of the number of convicts landed in New South Wales, since the year 1810; distinguishing the ships in which they were conveyed from this country: so far as the same has been received. 2.

1816 (366) An account of the expense of victualling the several ships taking convicts to the settlement of New South Wales and its dependencies; and also of the provisions provided and sent by this department thither, in each of the years, from the year 1811, to the 11th April 1816.

1816 (431) An account of the annual expense of the transportation of convicts to New South Wales and its dependencies, and of the total annual expense of those settlements, since the year 1811; according to the form of the appendix to the report of the committee of finance, presented to the House of Commons, 26th June 1798. Whitehall Treasury Chambers 7th June 1816.

1816 (450) Papers relating to His Majesty’s settlements at New South Wales: 1811-1814.

1817 (237) 1. An estimate of the sum which may be wanted to defray the expense attending the confining, maintaining, and employing convicts at home; for the year 1817. 2. An estimate of the sum that may probably be wanted to defray the amount of bills drawn, or to be drawn, from New South Wales; for the year 1817.

1817 (276) Return of the number of persons, male and female;–distinguishing the ages of those under twenty-one years of age; stating their respective ages, who have been transported as criminals to New South Wales, since the 1st January 1812; specifying the term for which each was transported, the date and place of conviction, and the time of embarkation.

1818 (418) Return of the number of persons, who have been sent to New South Wales, under sentence of seven years transportation, from the 1st of January 1816, to the 1st of January 1818; distinguishing each year, also the sex of the prisoners, and classing them according to their respective ages.

1819 (191) An account of the annual expense of the transportation of convicts to New South Wales and its dependencies, and of the total annual expense of those settlements, since the year 1815.

The documents are all downloadable as PDF files, and some of them are quite large. Here is an example from 1816 (450) Papers relating to His Majesty’s settlements at New South Wales: 1811-1814:

Papers related to NSW 1816 page 12
HOUSE OF COMMONS PAPERS; ACCOUNTS AND PAPERS Volume/Page XVIII.299; Papers relating to His Majesty’s settlements at New South Wales: 1811-1814, Paper number (450), page 13.

These documents are indispensable to historians and are easily obtainable for Australian residents. Libraries and universities in other countries may have similar arrangements, so it’s worth checking. All colonies are represented.

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers

House of Commons Parliamentary PapersBefore Fiji was ceded to Great Britain in 1874 there was quite a bit of documentation flowing backwards and forwards between various members of the British Government, and much of it was printed and distributed for the benefit of the Members of the House of Commons. Once Fiji became a colony there were various reports and correspondence tabled. Although rarely mentioning individuals by name it is very useful to historians.

The Parliamentary Papers for the British House of Commons have been digitised and categorised for the use of researchers. The website is http://parlipapers.chadwyck.co.uk but you need to have a login and password to enter it.

Fortunately, if you have a Library Card from the National Library of Australia you can access the site for free. Just go to the Library’s homepage and click on eResources in the top right hand corner. Here you can enter your Library Card number and your family name. If you don’t have a Library Card you can request one, and it will be posted within a couple of weeks.

Once you’ve logged in using your Library Card go down to Find a resource and type in ‘House of Commons’. Accept the terms and conditions. If you then Browse Subject Catalogue you need to get down to The dominions and colonies:

HCPP Fiji

As you can see there are documents for other Pacific Islands as well. Here is the list of documents for the years 1801-1900 under the heading Fiji Islands:

1862 [2995] Fiji islands. Correspondence relative to the Fiji islands.

1871 (435) Fiji Islands. Return to an address of the honourable the House of Commons, dated 24 April 1871;–for, copies or extracts of correspondence and documents relating to the Feejee Islands, in so far as the same relate to their annexation to the colonial empire of this country, or otherwise affording protection to British subjects resident in those islands.”

1872 [C.509] Fiji Islands. Further correspondence relating to the Fiji Islands.

1873 (76) Fiji Islands (instructions to naval officer). Copy of any instructions that may have been sent to the naval officer commanding in the pacific relative to the line of conduct to be adopted by commanders of Her Majesty’s vessels towards the so-called government of the Fiji.

1873 (124) Fiji islands (correspondence with New South Wales). Copies of despatches to the Governor of New South Wales (subsequent to letter 88 of 3rd November 1371, published in parliamentary paper, no. 509, of 1872), respecting the acknowledgment of the government set up by a section of the white settlers in the Fiji islands, as well as of the minutes or correspondence which have passed between the Governor of New South Wales and his executive council on the same subject.

1873 (337) Fiji Islands. Copy of a despatch from Captain Chapman, of Her Majesty’s ship “dido,” to Commodore Stirling, 29th March 1873, with its enclosures, relative to the dispute between the Fiji Government and the white settlers of the district of Ba, in the Fiji Islands.

1874 [C.983] Fiji Islands. Copy of a letter addressed to Commodore Goodenough, R.N., and E. L. Layard, Esq., Her Majesty’s consul in Fiji, instructing them to report upon various questions connected with the Fiji Islands: with enclosures.

1874 [C.1011] Report of Commodore Goodenough and and Mr. Consul Layard on the offer of the cession of the Fiji Islands to the British crown.

1875 [C.1114] [C.1337] Correspondence respecting the colony of Fiji.

1876 (399) Fiji (measles). Copy of letter from the Admiralty to Commodore Hoskins, conveying their views on the alleged introduction of measles into Fiji by the officers of Her Majesty’s ship “Dido.”

1876 (408) Fiji (measles). Copy of the letter from the secretary of state for the colonies to the Governor of Fiji, communicating the views of Her Majesty’s Government as to the responsibility of the administrator of the colony and the acting colonial secretary for the introduction of measles into Fiji.

1876 [C.1404] [C.1624] Further correspondence respecting the colony of Fiji.

1877 [C.1826] Further correspondence relative to the colony of Fiji.

1877 [C.1880] Fiji. Correspondence in connexion with the native produce taxes in Fiji.

1878 (111) Polynesian labourers. Copies of ordinances introduced by Sir Arthur Gordon to regulate treatment of Polynesian labourers, and the introduction of Indian coolies into Fiji; and, of correspondence relating to these ordinances between the Colonial Office and the Government of Fiji.

1878 (285) Marriages (Fiji). A bill to remove doubts as to the validity of certain marriages solemnized in the islands of Fiji prior to their erection into a British colony.

1880 (411) Fiji (ship “Leonidas”). Copy or extracts of the correspondence which took place between Mr. Des Vœux, administrator of Fiji, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies, relative to the detention of the coolie ship “Leonidas” at Nasova in May 1879, in consequence of an outbreak of smallpox on board, and also any reports showing the successful efforts of the administrator to prevent the introduction of the disease into Fiji.

1883 [C.3584] [C.3815] Fiji. Correspondence relative to land claims in Fiji. Maps will be found at page 64.

1884-85 [C.4433] Fiji. Further correspondence respecting claims of German subjects to land in Fiji. (In continuation of [C.-3584] of April 1883 and [C.-3815] of August 1883.) A map will be found at page 78.

1884-85 [C.4434] Fiji. Correspondence relating to the native population of Fiji. Part I.–Native labour ordinances. Part II.–Condition of the native population.

1887 [C.5039] Fiji. Correspondence relating to the native population of Fiji. (In continuation of [C.–4434] May 1885.) Maps will be found at pages 40, 72, and 74.

1888 [C.5249-37] Her Majesty’s colonial possessions. No. 34. Fiji. Report on the blue book for 1887.

1890 [C.5897-9] Her Majesty’s colonial possessions. No. 79. Fiji. Report on the blue book for 1888. (In continuation of colonial possessions report no. 34.)

1890-91 [C.6221-5] Her Majesty’s colonial possessions. No. 116. Fiji. Report on the blue book for 1889. (In continuation of Colonial possessions report no. 79.)

1892 [C.6829] Colonial reports.–Annual. No. 45. Fiji. Annual report for 1890. (For report for 1889, see Colonial Report no. 116, Old Series.)

1893-94 [C.6857-22] Colonial reports.–Annual. No. 72. Fiji. Annual report for 1891. (For report for 1890, see Colonial Report [Annual] No. 45.)

1893-94 [C.6857-47] Colonial reports.–Annual. No. 97. Fiji. Annual report for 1892. (For report for 1891, see Colonial Report [Annual] No. 72.)

1895 [C.7629-10] Colonial reports.–Annual. No. 127. Fiji. Annual report for 1893. (For report for 1892, see colonial report [Annual] no. 97.)

1895 [C.7679] Fiji. Further correspondence respecting the affairs of Fiji and the native population. (In continuation of [C. 5039, April 1887].)

1896 [C.7944-5] Colonial reports.–Annual. No. 153. Fiji. Annual report for 1894. (For report for 1893, see colonial report [Annual] no. 127.)

1898 [C.8650-1] Colonial reports.–Annual. No. 203. Fiji. Report on trade for 1896.

1898 [C.8650-15] Colonial reports–annual. No. 217. Fiji. Annual report for 1896.

1899 [C.9046-12] Colonial reports–annual. No. 244. Fiji. Annual report for 1897. (For report for 1896, see no. 217.)

1899 [C.9498-2] Colonial reports–annual. No. 268. Fiji. Annual report for 1898. (For report for 1897, see no. 244)

1900 [Cd.354-2] Colonial reports–Annual. No. 296. Fiji. Report for 1899. (For report for 1898, see no. 268.)

The documents are all downloadable as PDF files, and some of them are quite large. Here is an example from the 1871 collection of documents and despatches related to the Fiji Islands “in so far as the same relate to their annexation to the colonial empire of this country, or otherwise affording protection to British subjects resident in those islands.”

HOUSE OF COMMONS PAPERS; ACCOUNTS AND PAPERS, Volume/Page XLVII.777; Return to an address of the honourable the House of Commons, dated 24 April 1871, Paper (435), page 3.

These documents are indispensable to historians and are easily obtainable for Australian residents. Libraries and universities in other countries may have similar arrangements, so it’s worth checking.

Where did my convict die?

Most convicts lived to finish their sentences or obtain their conditional pardons and continued to live long and productive lives. Some didn’t live productive lives, and some didn’t survive to finish their sentences.

The Register of Convict Deaths lists convicts who were known to have died whilst still serving their sentence.State Records NSW: Chief Superintendent of Convicts; Convict Death Register. NRS 12213, SR Reel 690. It is available on Ancestry.

Many of these deaths do not appear in the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages online indexes. The pre-1856 records held by the Registry were collected from parish registers from around the colony, and so the conclusion has to be made that the convict who died was not given a Christian burial.

Convict Death Register

Perhaps the settler wrote to inform the Superintendent of Convicts that the convict had died and the means of death, and it is worth searching the indexes to the Colonial Secretary’s correspondence to see if such a letter was sent. He may have written to the Chief Superintendent of Convicts, but this correspondence has not survived.

Timothy Baverstock was a blacksmith and carpenter transported in 1832 and arriving in February 1833. According to the Convict Death Register he was assigned to a Mr Cobb at Hunter River and died the same year. You may be able to read his entry in the register above – he is about 3/4 of the way down the left hand page. You may also be able to see that his is the only entry that does not give a full date of death – just the year.

To see if Mr Cobb had written a letter to report the death I searched for correspondence to the Colonial Secretary. There is a name index prepared by Joan Reece over many years on microfiche. With great satisfaction I found the name Timothy Bavenstock for 1833, and I filled out the request form to inspect the letter. I was expecting a short note to explain that the convict had died, and perhaps a request for another one to replace him.

ColSecCorr 33-5055

I was quite surprised when it arrived to see a four-page document quite closely written in the left margin of the first page. The letter was not from Mr Cobb of Hunter River, as I had expected, but the Principal Superintendent of Convicts, complaining to the Colonial Secretary that assignees do not report the deaths of the convicts assigned to them.

ColSecCorr 33-5055 p3 detail

Timothy Baverstock is only mentioned because the Principal Superintendent used him as an example of  a convict whose death he would have remained ignorant except that the assignee, Mr Cobb, applied to be assigned another convict.

The letter reads in full:

I beg leave again to bring under the notice of the Government the fact of my being seldom apprized of the death of Convicts in the interior by Assignees; and to suggest the propriety should His Excellency the Governor approve of directing public attention to this matter thr[ough] the medium of the Official Gazette.

As cases in point, I beg leave to mentionthat it was only yesterday in looking over a file of applications in the Office of the Assignment Branch, I discovered the death of the two Convicts named in the margin hereof.

[in the margin] Timothy Baverstock 33/376 Camden 2, Carpenter & Wheelwright Complete

Job Nobbs 32/461 Isabella 4, Shoemaker Complete

The first named was assigned to Mr Cobb of Hunter River, and according to that Gentleman’s statement died the day after his arrival on the farm. The other was assigned to Mr HC Kurnell[?] of Argyle, who states that he also died soon after reaching his farm. Neither case would have been reported had it not been thought by the assignees it would strengthen their claims for others.

I never receive any reports of deaths from Coroners. I have the honour to be, etc etc

The Colonial Secretary wrote an “executive summary” in the margin of the first page for the Governor:

The Prin’l Sup Convicts represents that he is seldom apprised by assignees of the death of their convict servants, and suggests the propriety of directing public attention to the matter by means of the Gazette – adds also that he never receives reports of deaths from the Coroners.

All the Returns of Burials rec’d in this office are periodically sent to Mr Hely (see note below) for his confirmation. The several Coroners may be required to furnish a Death return, but as the bodies of persons on whom inquests are held are interred, then names doubtless included in a Clerical report of Burials, it would not appear that the non-transmission of the Return by the Coroners is productive of much inconvenience. As respects the notice to Assignees I am fearful that not much attention will be paid to it – but they might nevertheless be req’d to report to the Mag[istrate] the death of the Convict servant.

Timothy Baverstock had died the day after his arrival. As a blacksmith and carpenter Timothy Baverstock would have been valuable to a settler, and Mr Cobb would have wanted a quick replacement.

Without his assignee’s request for a replacement and the Principal Superintendent of Convict’s request to The Colonial Secretary, he would have disappeared from the records and we would never have known what happened to him.

Note Frederick Augustus Hely, according to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, held the post of Principal Superintendent of Convicts from 1823 until his death in 1836. He applied to retire on a pension but died before it was approved by the Colonial Office.

Sources
State Records NSW: Principal Superintendent of Convicts; NRS12213, Convict Death Register. SR Reel 690. Online version published by Ancestry.com.

State Records NSW: Colonial Secretary’s Office; NRS905, Main series of letters received, 1826-1982. 33/5055, Letter from Principal Superintendent of Convicts dated 1 Aug 1833.

Charles Johnson, prisoner and father

When the grandmother of one of my clients was born there was no father listed on the birth certificate. When she married she stated her father to be a Charles Johnson, but there was no other evidence of this, or indeed of any link between Charles and and the mother Isabella Staader.

At least there was a name to go on, and the place where the child was born. A search of the digitised newspapers on Trove had given a short account of a trial in which Charles was convicted in January 1887 of assault and sentenced to 12 months hard labour at Tamworth Gaol. The woman he assaulted was Isabella Staader.

SMH 18970201 p5 Johnson and Staader

Further searches revealed more information. The NSW Police Gazettes reported his arrest (without bail), sentence and release. He is the Return of Prisoners, showing his sentence:

Charles is about half way down. He was charged with “Wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm” on Isabella Staader. He was tried at Tamworth Quarter Sessions on 29th January 1897, and sentenced to 12 months’ hard labour at  Tamworth Gaol.

Later in the same year he appears in a list of Prisoners Discharged to Freedom. The printing is even smaller than in the page above so I haven’t posted an image. It describes not only his crime, sentence and date and place of trial, but some additional information – his native place was Tamworth, NSW; year of birth was 1862; height 5 feet 5 inches; fresh complexion; brown hair and eyes; regular nose, mouth and chin; and this was his first conviction.

The Index to Gaol Photographs on the State Records NSW website does not include those taken at Tamworth Gaol, but there is a full index at the Western Sydney Records Centre. There he was: Charles Johnston in Tamworth Gaol. The presence or absence of the T in the name was a minor inconvenience – if they didn’t always spell names the same way there is no reason for us to be pedantic about it.

SRNSW Gaol Photograph 1897 Charles Johnston

The page is wrinkled where the photographs have been stuck on.  We now know quite a lot more about Charles Johnson, including some more accurate information, as I suspect the Description Book is more accurate than the Police Gazette. He had light brown hair and blue eyes, with a cut under his left eye. He weighed 130 pounds. He was Church of England and he could read and write.

We may not know exactly what was going on between Charles and Isabella, but we now have an idea of when it might have come to an end. Perhaps she took him back when he got out of gaol; certainly his child knew that he was her father.

Often the father of an illegitimate child can never be found. Sadly, if there was domestic violence, it may be possible to find out quite a bit about him.

The full citation for the page from the Description Book is :

State Records NSW: Department of Corrective Services, ‘Photograph Description Book, Tamworth Gaol, 1894-1929’, [3/5997]; item 49 for Charles Johnson.

The square brackets seem to interfere with the formatting in the picture caption.

A conditional purchase application

Conditional Purchases were introduced in 1862 as a way of getting small landholders on the land. They selected a portion of land, paid an initial deposit of %10 of the value, and then had to pay it off. The conditions were that they had to reside on the property, and they had to improve it – build a house, fences, etc. They could select land before it was surveyed, so by the time the surveyor came around there was often some improvements already built, which the surveyor often described and marked on the plan.

My ancestor Richard Eason (1829-1922) selected some land near Blayney in 1871. The land is Portion 199: 40 acres in the Parish of Graham, County of Bathurst, which is just north of the town of Blayney in New South Wales.

The Conditional Purchase number and Richard’s name was recorded on an old parish map:

Graham Parish map 1884 detail

Historical parish maps can be viewed on the Parish Map Preservation Project website. The names that appear on the maps are those of the first title holders. Conditional purchasers could take 30-40 years to finish paying the land off, and if there was a mortgage involved then the bank became the first title holder. Later maps of this parish show the City Bank of Sydney on this portion.

With the Conditional Purchase number, CP71.252, it is possible to examine the Conditional Purchase Register for that year at State Records NSW:

Conditional Purchase Register 1871

The register gives a summary of the history of the purchase up until the title was issued by the Registrar General. Transfers of ownership to mortgagees can be seen, as well as the transfers back to Richard when he discharged the mortgage. Each of these transfers required a separate form to be filled in, and these forms are part of the correspondence for the purchase.

You can get quite a bit of information from the register, but if you want the actual documents you have to go further and trace the correspondence through the Correspondence Registers. It sounds easy but it is quite time consuming, and easy to make mistakes and lose your way. You must write down each document number recorded in this register, and then find each one in the relevant Correspondence Register to find out what happened to the document. It was either put away or filed with another document. If you are lucky, all the documents will be filed together and you will eventually find where they are. If not, you have to find and retrieve each one separately. If you are very unlucky, you may lose the trail and be unable to find the document, or the document may have been misplaced.

Here is the original application form:

Conditional Purchase application form

There are many other documents for this purchase, including:

  • 1871 – a letter from the surveyor in which he describes the improvements made by the applicant and the land contained an extra 6 acres and 3 roods, which the applicant had agreed to pay for.
  • 1871 – a list of deposits paid, with £1.13.9 against Richard’s name
  • 1874 – the Declaration of the Conditional Purchaser, where Richard declares that he has been in contonuous residence and made £50 worth of improvements
  • 1897 – Notification of Alienation of the land to Richard Chambers (his older sister’s nephew). I believe this to be the result of a mortgage.
  • 1885 – Transfer of Conditional Purchase returning ownership of the land from Richard Chambers to Richard Eason
  • 1891 – Transfer of Conditional Purchase to the City Bank of Sydney in consideration of the sum of £450
  • 1904 – Transfer of Conditional Purchase back to Richard Eason
  • and so on

The land title was eventually issued in 1916, at which point the entries in the Conditional Purchase Register end, as control was passed from the Conditional Sales Branch to the Registrar General.

On the map you can see many other names of the people that Richard must have known. Robert and William Ewin were his brothers-in-law. A sister-in-law married a Thornberry. The Easons, Ewins and Thornberrys all came from the same couple of parishes in County Tyrone in northern Ireland.

Richard built a house on this land and raised his family in it, even though his wife died not long afterwards. His son John raised his own family there. John’s son Richard, my grandfather, sold the land and took the materials for his own building.

A couple of years ago I visited this land and saw the remains of the house. I have written about this previously. I met the current owner of the property, who gave me a photo of Richard’s son John Eason, my great-grandfather, that I had never seen before.

Fernside

I’ve traced many conditional purchases since then, but none have been as exciting as this first one for my great-great-grandfather!

Further information:
State Records NSW Archives in Brief No 93 – Background to conditional purchase of Crown land

This post is based on a post previously published for Australia Day 2011 on my blog Carole’s Canvas.

Historical Records of Australia

The Historical Records of Australia was an attempt to make the records of the Colonial Office relevant to the Australian colonies available here in Australia.

Series One was published  in 26 volumes in 1914-1925 and consists of the New South Wales Governors’ despatches to and from England. These despatches were incredibly detailed reports on every aspect of the colony, and included correspondence from settlers, returns of shipping, and the opinions of the Governors on many subjects. More recently these volumes have been digitised and published on 2 CDs by Archive Digital Books Australia (Modbury, South Australia, 2009), making them completely searchable.

A search for ‘Fiji’ or ‘Feejee’ gives a number of results. For example, here is an estimate, sent by Governor Bligh in1808, estimating the cost of a voyage to Fiji to procure sandalwood and the expected profit from the venture:

HRA I vol6 p683

Historical Records of Australia Series I Vol. 6 p683

The deposition of Peter Dillon on 6 November 1813 regarding an encounter with the natives in which Charles Savage and many others were killed is reproduced in Volume 8, pages 103-107. The deponent:

Sayth that, the Priest being gone, several of the Chiefs came up and entreated deponent and his party to go down and which request he peremptorily refused, but two of the Party, Charles Savage and a China Man, both of whom had been living with the Natives, contrary to deponent’s Orders, ventured down amongst them and whom they Suffered to Walk about some time unmolested, entreating deponent and the two others to go down also, and finding Deponent would not consent they killed those two which were down.

Volume 19, from 1838, contains the evidence taken regarding the attack on the Sir David Ogilby by the local Fijians in an attempt to take the ship:

Whether the Natives, tempted by a display of articles on the deck, acted only on the impulse of the moment, or whether the attack was a premeditated one, seems to be doubtful; but, seizing an opportunity when the greater part of the Crew was aloft, one of the Chiefs rushed on the Captain, whose name was Henry Hutchins, and despatched him with a single blow of a club. In the conflict which instantly followed, another man named William Brooks was killed, the Mate and several others disabled, and it was only from the fortunate circumstance of there being some muskets and ammunition in the Main Top that the remainder of the Crew were enabled by keeping up a fire on the deck ultimately to regain possession of the vessel. Many of the Islanders, and among them the Chief who led the attack, are said to have lost their lives…

The books are available in many libraries and indexes in the back are very helpful. The CDs can be purchased from Gould Genealogy. Remember to use alternate spellings for Fiji, and try other search terms as well.

Pacific Manuscript Bureau

The Pacific Manuscripts Bureau is an organisation of libraries specializing in Pacific Island research, based in the College of Asia Pacific Studies at the Australian National University. It copies archives, manuscripts and rare printed material relating to the islands of the Pacific, making it accessible to researchers.

The Bureau has 3,300 microfilms, indexes and other material, held by the libraries involved, including:

A search in the catalogue currently gives 189 results. Records for Fiji include:

  • Roman Catholic Mission records from the Archdiocese of Suva
  • Diaries, journals and letters of visitors and settlers, including J.B.Thurston
  • Logs and journals of visiting whalers and other ships from the USA
  • Compilations of notes on aspects of Fijian history

Search for holdings relevant to Fiji here.

Registers of Seamen’s Services at The National Archives

The National Archives in England has records of the Royal Navy. The Registers of Seamen’s Services (ADM 188) includes 7 men were stated they were born in Fiji.

The names are:

Oliver Rupert Griffiths, 1900

Nikola Qumivutia, 1900

Frank Clay, 1889

William Hamilton Matthews, 1888

James Lele, 1857

Joseph Hicks, 1856

William Thompson, 1841

Copies of the records can be downloaded for £3.50 each.

Indian immigration passes 1879-1919

Indian immigration passes from 1879 to 1919 held by the National Archives of Fiji have been microfilmed on 42 reels.

The passes contain the migrant’s depot number, gender, name, caste, father’s name, age, district of origin, registration, and certification of authorities in India about mental and physical fitness etc. The passes are organised by ship of departure in chronological order. No personal name indexes are available.

See the catalogue listing in the National Library of Australia.

I cannot at present find anywhere else in Australia that has these microfilms.