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.

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.

Polynesian Reminiscences – T Pritchard (1866)

Title page of ‘Polynesian Reminiscences’, Pritchard, 1866

William Thomas Pritchard (1829-1907) was the first British Consul to Fiji from 1858 until his dismissal in 1863.

Pritchard took the first offer of cession of the Fiji Islands to Britain in 1858, and has many stories to tell about his work as Consul and the people he dealt with – chiefs, settlers, and the captains of visiting warships.

As with all Google Books the text can be searched when you view the book online but not if you download the PDF. The names of people and places are spelled very imaginatively.

Sources

Pritchard’s Reminiscences on Google Books

Wikipedia entry for William Thomas Pritchard

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.

Electoral Rolls

nautical_diary 300x200-2Electoral rolls provide useful information about your ancestors’ residence and eligibility to vote. New South Wales electoral rolls are available from 1842 to 2009, although rolls were not updated every year, and some of the early ones have been lost.

Each listing includes name, address, and occupation (up to 1984). It is possible to see which family members were living in the same address, and so can be used instead of the censuses available in other countries to determine whereabouts and household composition.

If you do know that your ancestor moved from one place to another electoral rolls can give you an idea of when he or she moved. A search of the early rolls, when there was a property requirement, can tell you whether your ancestor was a freeholder or leaseholder, or just a resident.

Australian electoral rolls were published in books for distribution. Most of these have been microfilmed (in the 1800s) or on microfiche (1901 onwards) and are available in many libraries. Most libraries do not have all years, or all electorates. From 1990 onwards the microfiche are indexed across Australia.

Who had the vote?

The qualifications to vote in New South Wales elections has changed over time. This means that your ancestor may not have been entitled to vote in the period in which you are searching for him or her. Here is a brief timeline:

1843 Of the 36 members of the Legislative Council 24 were now elected by the colonists, provided they owned freehold property valued at £200 or more, or they leased property at £20 or more.

1851 Property value required reduced to £100 freehold or £10 leasehold.

1856 Responsible government introduced, with a Lower House elected by colonists. Occupiers of houses worth at least £10 per year included.

1858 All adult males could vote if they’d lived in the electorate for 6 months or had been naturalised and lived in the Colony for two years, except for paupers, prisoners, police and the armed forces. A man could vote in all the electorates in which he held property.

1893 The property and length of residence requirements were abolished, so that itinerant workers could vote.

1902 Following the federation of all the Colonies into the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901 women were given the vote in Commonwealth and New South Wales elections.

1925 First election in which voting was compulsory.

1934 The Legislative Council was replaced by a body that was indirectly elected by the Lower House.

1974 Voting age lowered to 18 years.

1978 Upper House elected along with Lower House in general elections.

Where can I find my ancestor?

1946 Electoral Roll for North Sydney Division
1946 Electoral Roll for North Sydney, Lane Cove Subdivision

Until 1990 Australian electoral rolls were published by division, so you need to know where the person is living to be able to find them. They are published on microfiche for the 1900s and early 2000s, the last one being 2009.

To find the electoral division you will need the atlas, which has maps of each capital city and each state that show the boundaries as they changed from 1902-

Very few New South Wales rolls have been digitised and indexed, although this situation is slowly changing:

Ancestry have digitised some rolls for New South Wales, for 1930, 1931-32, 1933, 1934-35, 1936-3719431949, and 1953-54. Those in bold text have been indexed.

Archive CD Books Australia, a subsidiary of Gould Genealogy, has started to scan and index New South Wales electoral rolls and publish them on CD. So far they have published the rolls for 1903 and 1913, with many others to follow. Check your library to see if they have the CDs.

See also:

State Records NSW Archives in Brief 5 – Electoral Rolls

State Records NSW Brief Guide No. 1 – Electoral Rolls

State Library NSW Instructions for searching the NSW Electoral Rolls 1903-1989

[Most of this post has been published previously at http://heritagegenealogy.com.au/research/electoral-rolls/]

Image scanned from microfiche.

A World War I service file

The National Archives of Australia holds the service records of Australian defence servicemen and women from 1901. Records are closed for thirty years. If your ancestor served in the Boer War, World War I, World War II or in between, the records you need will be in Canberra.

Many of these records have been digitised, and are available to view and download online.

Some of the first to be digitised were the World War I service records.

World War I service records usually contain the following documents:

  • attestation paper – the attestation paper was completed by the person on enlistment and normally gives next-of-kin, employment details, marital status, age, place of birth and physical description
  • service and casualty form – this form, known as ‘Form B103’, shows movements and transfers between units, promotions, when and how the soldier was injured and where treatment was received
  • military correspondence – correspondence between the Department of Defence and the soldier’s next-of-kin may include notification of wounds or death, awards and medals and questions about the whereabouts of the serviceman or woman [NAA]

Here is the first page of the Attestation Paper of my grandmother’s cousin Douglas James Stewart, downloaded from the website. Douglas, a telegraph messenger, had barely turned 18 when he enlisted in Sydney on Sunday, 18th February 1917.

His next of kin was his father, James Simpson Stewart, of Albury Street, Holbrook NSW. The next page is a bit more instructive:

We can see that he was a Presbyterian; 5 foot 9 inches tall, 146 lbs in weight, with a scar on his left knee and a lump on his left thumb. By looking at a copy of the Attestation Paper in the file I can see the headings for the information that has been pasted over: his chest measurement was 31-36 inches, and he had a medium complexion, with brown hair and brown eyes. I presume that the numbers in red next to his eye colour refer to eyesight testing.

He was pronounce fit for service and was appointed to A Company, 1st Infantry D Battalion.

The pages that were taped inside tells what happened to his afterwards:

And on the other side of the paper:

This appears to be much the same thing only typed:

I am not knowledgeable about the codes and abbreviations used, but it looks to me like he embarked on His Majesty’s Australian Transport Marathon at Sydney on 10th May, 1917, for a journey of a little over two months to Devonport, England. After some months of training in England he was shipped to France, arriving in Havre 20th March, 1918.

He survived the fighting in France for nearly five months, and was killed in action on the 8th August 1918.

The big blue stamp on the last page of the Attestation Form says it all:

Other documents in the file include the original Application to Enlist in the Australian Imperial Force and a certified copy. The form was signed by both his parents, since he was under 21 years and needed their permission. How difficult that must have been!

The file is 61 pages, and much of it is made up of correspondence between the Office and Douglas’ father James Simpson Stewart after his death. We will continue to examine this file in the near future.

Convict Numbers

ball_and_chain 300x225I’ve been reading a classic book on the transportation of convicts to Australia called Convicts and the Colonies by A.G.L. Shaw (Melbourne University Press, 1977), who was Professor of History at Monash University in Melbourne. I’d like to share some numbers with you.

Numbers of convicts transported

From May 1787 to March 1792 4077 males and 769 females were transported from England, an average total of about 1000 per year. The transportation process was interrupted during the Napoleonic Wars, as convict labour was needed in the dockyards and in the services. Only 5263 males and 1810 females sent between 1793 and 1810, an annual average of only 292 men and 100 women over 18 years.

From 1811 to 1815 tranportation steadily rose but only after the end of the Wars in 1815 did the crime rate increased and the transportation rate likewise was increased. From 1816 to 1825 the annual average was 2600 per year. In 1827 the new Home Secretary, Sir Robert Peel, reformed the penal laws and as a result the annual average rose to 4160 per year due to more police and changes in punishments for different crimes.

Sentences

The most popular transportation sentence was for 7 years, applying to over half of all those transported. “A quarter were sentenced for life, but the proportion of lifers alowly declined as time went on. Nearly all the remainder received fourteen years until 1840; after that ten-year sentences became fairly common.” (p. 149)

Before 1818 only a third of those sentenced or respited from a death sentence to transportation were actually put on a transport ship; the rest got no further than the hulks – old, unseaworthy ships acting as prisons. In the 1820s at least two-thirds were actually transported; about three-quarters declining to two-thirds in the 1830s; and back to three-quarters in the early 1840s. “Lifers” were usually sent, as were most prisoners in their twenties. In general the old and the sick were not, although there were exceptions.

Crimes

So many crimes carried a sentence of death or transportation in those days that once one crime was proven at trial there was no real need to prove any others. So although the convict may have been “known” to local authorities and suspected of a great many crimes, only one, perhaps the easiest to prove, was needed to send him or her away. A bad reputation could result in a harsher punishment. Estimates have been made by Shaw and others that show that approximately two-thirds of convicts had had previous convictions. Before 1840 most first-offenders were sent to New South Wales with the more hardened criminals being sent to Van Diemen’s Land.

Most transported convicts came from the cities – London and Middlesex, and the industrial towns in Lancashire. The most common crime by far was larceny. A disproportionate share of first offenders came from these large cities, as an attempt to discourage this type of crime. Many rural offenders were convicted of poaching – not from threat of starvation, but well-equipped organised poaching for profit. They were often guilty, or suspected, of violence or other types of crimes such as “making free with their neighbours’ property” (p. 158). Only about 300 convicted poachers were transported during the whole period of transportation. A third of transported convicts tried in rural counties were born elsewhere, indicating a high level of wandering.

Fewer than a thousand transported convicts from England were political prisoners, including trade unionists and rioting agricultural labourers.

Women

About one-sixth of transported convicts were women. Predominantly single, from the cities, especially London and in Lancashire, and on average three years older than the men. Two-thirds were found “guilty of larceny or stealing wearing apparel” (p. 164). It is difficult to know how many were actually prostitutes, although it must be remembered that contemporary attitudes branded almost any woman a prostitute who did not conform to the strict moral standards of the day.

The Scots

“Per head of population, the Scottish rate of transportation was less than a quarter that of England between 1810 and 1821, and only about two-fifths after 1830; as a result Scottish criminals were far less common in Australia than English or Irish…” (p. 165). 85 per cent were sentenced for theft of some kind, but were, in general, more serious offenders. The Scots were first sent to the hulks at Portsmouth or Woolwich, and from there were sent together with the English to Australia.

The Irish

The Irish convicts are given a whole chapter in Shaw’s book. I will only give a few details. Nearly 30,000 men and 9000 women were transported directly from Ireland, about a quarter of the total numbers. In general they were two years older than British convicts; more were married; less were juveniles; and far more were from the country rather than the cities. Far more were first offenders except for those from Dublin and Cork. Probably one-fifth were nationalists and social rebels fighting against English domination. In addition about 6000 had settled in England and been convicted of similar crimes to the native English offenders – namely larceny.

That’s enough for today. I highly recommend this book to you if you want to know more about the convict system in NSW.

Five essential websites for NSW genealogy

Today I want to discuss websites that I find to be essential for researching family history in New South Wales. Genealogy has come a very long way in the last few years, with so many government repositories and others putting indexes, and even images of the actual records, online. Here are the websites that I use most often.

1. NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages Historical Index Search is a necessary first step for anyone starting on their family history. Starting with the people you know – your parents and their parents, you can then start putting the meat on the bones – the hard evidence of birth, death, and marriage registrations. The index allows searching for births from 1788 to 1906 by name and/or parents’ names; deaths from 1788 to 1976 by name or parents’ names; and marriages from 1788 to 1956 by either or both parties’ names. The upper search limit increases each year by one year. Once an entry is found the certificate can be ordered and paid for online. Current cost for a certificate is $25.00.

2. NSW State Records was previously names the Archives Office of NSW. Their indexes online has many useful indexes including some censuses; Colonial Secretary Correspondence; Convicts; Court, Police and Prison records such as civil and criminal cases, divorces, gaol photographs, police service records, and some early probate records; Deceased Estate files of the Stamp Duties Office; Education and Child Welfare; Immigration and Shipping; Indigenous Australians; Insolvencies; Land records and Naturalization. Additional records and series are added to as indexing progresses. The Convict and Immigration indexes are essential resources for finding out how your ancestor arrived in Australia. Some indexes are held on the websites of other organisations.

3. Society of Australian Genealogists is based in Sydney and is a marvelous resource for Australian research and NSW research in particular. Their research guides are enormously helpful – factual and very informative. Online databases include Convicts’ Tickets of Leave, Electoral districts for Sydney Streets, Soldiers and Marines from 1787 to 1830, and NSW Ships Musters 1816-1825. The catalogue shows what resources are available when you visit the library and is being added to all the time.

4. State Library of NSW has many resources that are also available in other repositories such as State Records NSW. I always check their catalogue to see if it is worthwhile to visit for records on microfilm or microfiche, both Australian and from the UK. They also have some records for other states. Mitchell Library and the William Dixson Library in particular specialise in Australian and New Zealand books and manuscripts. The State Library also has a vast collection of maps and plans, pictures, photographs and newspapers.

5. NSW Department of Lands is not an immediately obvious source for family history, and it does allow some limited property searches here. What I use it for most often is its Historical Parish Maps, which can be viewed in small sections from here. It may be useful before doing a map search to find the correct parish using the search at the Geographical Names Board. All the existing parish maps that have been superceded by more recent versions have been digitised and put online. Towns are included to the street level, and portions of land have the names of the original purchaser. Hours can be spent looking at these maps. CDs of the maps are also available from the Department.

6. I know I said there would be five websites, but I think the State Records NSW website must be mentioned again apart from its online indexes. This is the place to find out whether the records you want actually exist and have been archived. As the progressive indexing of their holding continues more and more records can be found by searching in Archives Investigator, their catalogue search facility. For example, probate files can be found by searching for the name and the word “death” as keywords (and using “All Words” not “Exact Phrase”). Their Archives in Brief series are very useful guides to the records they hold and are available online or in hardcopy in State Records Reading Rooms.

These are the NSW sites that I use most often in my research for myself and others. I would be very interested to hear from others if they disagree with anything on my list, or have others they would like to share.