Thursday, 2 July 2009

An answered question

28 December, 1869

Free passages
To single women (domestic servants), married couples (farm laborers or shepherds), with not more than one child, and under 12 years of age.
Persons receiving free and assisted passages, except female domestic servants, have to undertake to repay the Queensland Government, in the case of assisted passengers, the balance of the cost of their passage within twelve months after their arrival in the colony, and, in the case of free passengers, the cost of their passage within two years after arrival in the colony, and on the fulfilment of the undertaking they will receive a land order entitling them to select 40 acres of agricultural land for each adult, and 20 acres for each child between twelve months and twelve years.”
Other than noting and emulating the amazing run-on sentence above (didn’t the government of the day have editors?); the fact that the government was apparently signing legislation at the end of December (no modern bureaucrat would be caught anywhere near the office at that time); and the fact that spelling in 1869 was closer to what we today would call “American” i.e. laborer rather than labourer, the above extract admirably answers my question of what regulatory conditions would apply to obtain the release of a free passenger from their contract.


Anonymous said...

The Aussie Homestead Act? Or 40 acres and a mule?

I'm guessing no one asked the original inhabitants what they thought of all this. . . .

Blithe said...

Of course not. I'd have to check the actual details but no-one was allowed to settle around Brisbane while it was a penal colony. When the penal part closed, land was opened up in "runs" -- vast swathes of land that could be farmed but not owned. Then areas were surveyed, mapped and opened up for land purchase. The assumption was pretty much that this land was sitting here waiting for civilisation.