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Archives In Brief 55 - Court of Claims

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Provides a brief overview of the major sources held by State Records that relate to the Court of Claims. Other records relating to the Court of Claims may be identified in Archives Investigator and the guide to the Colonial Secretary Correspondence.

Historical background | Main record series | Access

Historical background

By 1831 many people had been promised grants of land, but were not in possession of the titles to the land because title was not issued until the grant had been surveyed. In other cases the land was in the possession of others claiming to have lawful right through the original promisees. As a result it became impossible to produce legal titles recognised by the Supreme Court.

1833 Act

In order to remedy this situation the passing of Act — IV Will No 9, 1833 — provided for the appointment of three Commissioners for two years and, presiding in the Court of Claims. They were empowered to hear the claims of all persons holding or claiming to hold lands where grants had been promised and claiming to have grants delivered to them.

Applications to the Court of Claims

The Court of Claims commenced hearings on the 11 April 1834. Persons with claims on land applied to the Commissioners in the form of a memorial, setting out a description of the lands in question, and the circumstances relating to the claim. The memorial was accompanied by a list of the names and addresses of all witnesses to the claim, and any other supporting evidence. If the Commissioners ruled that a claim appeared justified, three advertisements were placed in the Government Gazette over a period of two months to notify that a claim had been filed, and to provide a description of the land in question so as to allow any persons opposing the claim to present their case. Under the provisions of the Act, the Commissioners were required to record details of land claimed, memorials received, claims received in opposition, and the courts decision. The Court submitted reports on cases to the Governor through the Colonial Secretary.

In 1835 the Act — IV Will No.21, 1835 — only allowed the Commissioners to examine and report upon claims that had been referred to them by the Governor through the Colonial Secretary. Under this Act the Governor reserved the right no to follow the Court's recommendation.

Process continued under 1835 Act

In 1858 the Titles to Land Act — 22 Vic No 1, 1858 — provided for clear and accurate descriptions of crown land grants. Under this Act the Commissioners had the authority to investigate the claims of persons affected by the proposed new descriptions. As with the previous Act, the Governor was not legally bound to implement the Court's recommendation.

Later legislation

In 1858 the Titles to Land Act - 22 Vic No 1, 1858 - provided for clear and accurate descriptions of crown land grants. Under this Act the Commissioners had the authority to investigate the claims of persons affected by the proposed new descriptions. As with the previous Act, the Governor was not legally bound to implement the Court's recommendation.
Although the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act — Act No 17, 1898 — repealed the 1835 Act, the provisions for dealing with disputed claims to grants of land as set out under the 1835, were re-enacted. The Conveyancing Act — Act No 6, 1919 — (as amended in 1923) repealed various sections of the 1898 Act, although not those sections referring to settling disputed claims of land. As the law stands the Court of Claims can still be convened.

Main record series

Colonial Secretary

NRS 917, Register of memorials 1-970 (1833 Act), 20 Dec 1833-15 April 1835 [X13]
Reel 1420
Search the online index

NRS 913, Memorials forwarded by the Commissioners of Claims, 1832-1842 (1833 Act) [2/1777-1824A]
Reel 1234-1235, 1201-1208

NRS 914, Reports of Commissioner of Claims, 1835-1855 (1835 Act) [2/1752-1775]
Reel 1209-1226

NRS 1234, Registers of decisions of Commissioners of Court of Claims on memorials claiming land, 1834-1839 (1833 Act) [2/2168-69]
Indexes are in the front of the volumes

NRS 1235, Registers of notices that claims for deeds of grant and town allotments will be examined by the Court of Claims, 1836-1854 (1835 Act) [2/2147-48]
Arranged by case number

Court of Claims

NRS 2667, Drafts reports of memorials Nos 5-962 and related papers (1833 Act) [2/7643.1-.2, 9/2663 part]
Reel 2795

NRS 2672, Letters received from officials and private persons, 1833-1836 [9/2663 part]
Reel 2795

NRS 2675, Register of cases, Nos 1-1549 (1835 Act), 1836-1922 [2/2369-71 part]
Reel 1249
Tip 1
: Following the 1835 Act, the numbering of the cases started again at 1.
Tip 2: There are indexes in the front of each volume.

NRS 2677, Draft reports, Nos 1-1524 (1835 Act) [2/7644-49.2, 9/2663]
Reel 2795

NRS 2678, Copies of final reports, Nos 343-396 (1835 Act) [2/7665]

NRS 2679, Register of claims for additional grants, Nos 1-53 [2/2370 part]
Reel 1249

NRS 2681, Schedules received from the Colonial Secretary of Commissioners' reports on cases approved by the Governor, 1837-45 (1835 Act) [2/7650]

NRS 2685, Letters received from the Colonial Secretary, 24 Aug 1836-25 Aug 1843 [2/7653, 9/2663 part-64 part]
Reel 2795

NRS 2686, Letters received from officials and private persons, 1836-1841 [9/2663 part-64 part]
Reel 2795
There is an incomplete card index to NRS 2685-2686 in the reading room at Western Sydney.

NRS 2692, Copies of orders, notices, proclamations and circulars relative to the promising, granting and purchasing of lands, 15 Dec 1810-29 Aug 1837 [7/1523]

Lands Department

NRS 8451, Register of Court of Claims case papers with registered correspondence [2/2372]
Papers and reports of the Commissioners with the registered correspondence of the Lands Department may be located through this volume.

Surveyor General

NRS 13829, Register of deeds received and delivered of land promised prior to 1831, 1831-62 [7/1200]

Access

Researchers should consult the Register of Access Directions, to confirm the public availability of records. State Records' staff can advise you on the availability of records if they are not listed on the register.

© State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority, 2003. This work may be freely reproduced and distributed for most purposes, however some restrictions apply. See our copyright notice or contact us.