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Colonial Secretary's Correspondence: List and description of series

A. Letters received, 1788-1826

1. Main series of letters received, 1788-1826, NRS 897
98 vols, 1 bundle
In addition to letters from Government officials and private individuals, this series includes copies of agreements, despatches, general orders, instructions, ordinary regulations, proclamations, memoranda, reports and returns.
Also included are letters received from settlements such as Bathurst, Moreton Bay, Newcastle, Port Macquarie and Van Diemen's Land.

2. Special Bundles, 1794-1825, NRS 898

3. Memorials to the Governor, 1810-26, NRS 899
40 vols, 1 box
These are, for the most part, applications for land grants, leases and Tickets of Occupation but also include requests relating to other matters such as applications for assigned convicts or to be victualled from the Stores. Memorials frequently contain some background history or other details to support the applicant's case.
The arrangement of the Memorials is roughly alphabetical.

4. Petitions to the Governor from convicts for mitigation of sentences, 1810-26, NRS 900
30 vols, 1 box
These are principally petitions from convicts, or from family members or other persons on their behalf, for some mitigation of sentence such as a ticket of leave or a pardon. These documents often contain information as to the convict's general conduct and history including the name of the ship of arrival, colonial employment and family details.
The arrangement of the Petitions is roughly alphabetical.

5. Copies of letters sent and received, mainly within the Colony, or "Document Books Nos.1-3", c.1817-Oct 1827, NRS 938
3 vols
For description see NRS 938 in the Inventory of Series.

Finding Aids:

1. Index to the Papers of the New South Wales Colonial Secretary, 1788-1825

2. Index to letters received by the Colonial Secretary, 1826, and to Miscellaneous papers, 1788-1903. (Card index prepared by State Records; microfilm copy SR Reels 1250-1251)
The following, now superseded, finding aids have also survived:

3. Index to the letters received, 1788-1821. (Card index prepared by the Mitchell Library; microfilm copy SR Reels 42-44)

4. Summary of Colonial Records in the Colonial Secretary's Office, 1788-1826, NRS 902 ([5/2331]; microfilm copies SR Reel 6036 and 6071-6072). Chronological list of the bundles prepared 1888-90 to facilitate research in connection with the publication of the History of New South Wales from the Records. There is an index in the front of the volume.
A second copy made by Watson when editing Historical Records of Australia has also survived [5/2334-35] and includes his printing notes.

5. Alphabetical lists of memorials, letters, etc. received, 1821-24
A-Y, Supplementary A-W
[4/1749 pp.179-251]; microfilm copy SR Reel 6051
A-W, Supplementary A-W
[5/2333.1]; microfiche copy SR Fiche 3254-3255
[5/2333.2]; microfiche copy SR Fiche 3256
A-W, Register A-B, A-R
[5/2333.3]; microfiche copy SR Fiche 3257-3259

6. Memorandum of papers handed over from the Private to the Colonial Secretary at the end of the year 1825, 1824-25 A-Y & Miscellaneous, NRS 903 ([5/2333.3]; microfiche copy SR Fiche 3259)

7. List of letters received from R.W. Horton ordering land to settlers (1822-25), 16 Mar 1826, NRS 904 [5/2333.4]

8. Index to applications for grants of land, 1810-26 (i.e. Memorials to the Governor, 1810, 1820-26 located at [4/1821-45]) [4/1820]

B. Letters received, 1826-1982

The correspondence records after 1826 are filed in the following groups:

1. Main Series of Letters Received, 1826-1982 [searchable database]

2. Special Bundles, 1826-1982

3. Letters from Individuals re Land, 1826-56

4. Minutes and Memoranda

5. Commissioners of Claims, 1832-55

6. Telegrams

7. Indexes and Registers

1. Main Series, 1826-1982, NRS 905
c.6885 boxes
Earlier letters on a particular subject are located with the last letter on the subject and arranged:
by Registered Number;
in Subject Bundles (usually according to the last person who wrote on the matter);
by Registered Number.

2. Special Bundles, 1826-1982, NRS 906
It is suggested that a reader interested in a particular subject use this list first as many papers on important matters were extracted from the main series and became special bundles. The majority are registered but some non-registered material is also included.

3. Letters from individuals re Land, 1826-56, NRS 907
227 boxes, 2 bundles
The papers include letters from individuals, memoranda, reports, applications and petitions relating to the grant, purchase, rent or lease of land in the Colony. Also included are papers relating to such matters as disputes over ownership, use or boundaries of land between two or more parties.
They are arranged alphabetically by the person's name whose land is in question, or by partnerships of one or more persons. The letters are registered but due to the arrangement it is usually unnecessary to consult the Indexes and Registers.
A list of persons writing has been compiled by State Records and copies of this list are available in the reading room as well as on State Records website.
Letters re land for institutions and churches are listed with the Special Bundles.

4. Plays submitted for approval prior to being performed, 1842-56, NRS 908
In accordance with an Act of the Governor in Council, 9 George IV No.14, entitled An Act for regulating places of public exhibition and entertainment (1 September 1828) copies of plays were submitted to the Colonial Secretary for approval prior to being performed. He retained these copies in his office for reference if necessary. Originally the plays were with the covering letters but they have been removed and placed at SZ numbers for greater security.
Registers of licences granted under this act can be found at [4/1710] (January 1829-September 1844) and [4/5784] (October 1844-April 1863). A microfilm copy of the latter volume is available at SR Reel 2231.

5. Governor's and Colonial Secretary's Minutes and Memoranda, 1826-1927, NRS 909
These form a separate series but have a close relationship with the in-letters with cross-referencing in the Registers of each.
Some Minutes for 1826-1927 are connected to registered in-letters and put away with them. Others are put away in minute number order in a separate bundle for each year, and have been shelved together [4/983-1072].
The 1870-1915 Minutes are in separate bundles shelved with the registered in-letters of each year.
After 1915 minutes were connected to correspondence and not put away separately.
i) Registers of Minutes and Memoranda, 1826 - 17 Aug 1927, NRS 910 ([4/1074-80, 4/6987-88]; microfilm copy SR Reels 2725-2727).
ii) Register of Governor's Memoranda received, 2 Jan 1826 - 22 Jul 1829, NRS 911 ([4/6666B.1]; microfilm copy SR Reel 2725)
iii) Register of Governor's Minutes received, 13 Jan 1826 - 22 Jul 1829, NRS 912 ([4/1073]; microfilm copy SR Reel 2725)

6. Commissioners of Claims, 1832-55
i) Memorials forwarded by the Commissioners of Claims, 1832-42, NRS 913
22 boxes
ii) Reports of the Commissioners of Claims, c.1835-55, NRS 914
24 boxes
1. Register of Memorials 1-970 received by the Commissioners of Claims appointed under 4 Will. IV no.9, 20 Dec 1833 - 15 Apr 1835, NRS 917 ([X13]; microfilm copy SR Reel 1420)
1 vol
2. Register of Blank Cover references to Commissioners of Claims, 1837-44, NRS 915 [2/2170-71]
2 vols
3. Register of Blank Cover references to Commissioners of Claims (New Zealand), 1840-41, NRS 916 [4/3972]
1 vol
4. Registers of Cases Nos.1-1549, NRS 2675 ([2/2369-71]; microfilm copy SR Reel 1249)
3 vols

7. Telegrams
i) Copies of telegrams from the Agents General for New South Wales in London, 11 Aug   1873 - 24 Jan 1908, NRS 1008 [4/3973-82, 4/3989]
11 vols
Occasionally other official correspondence is included, ie in [4/3973-74]. From about 1885 some of the telegrams are coded and translations are attached. The volume located at [4/3989] consists of 'Treasury cables' relating to overseas loans, tenders, bills of exchange received and discounted, and similar financial matters.
[4/3978-82] are indexed in the front of each volume.
[4/3973] 11 Aug 1873 - 14 Mar 1878
[4/3974] 20 Apr 1878 - 21 Jun 1881
[4/3975] 3 Jan 1882 - 12 Mar 1884
[4/3976] 19 Mar 1884 - 18 Jun 1885
[4/3977] 29 May 1885 - 12 Jul 1887
[4/3978] 22 Jul 1887 - 20 Jun 1890
[4/3979] 23 Jun 1890 - 15 Apr 1893
[4/3980] 20 Apr 1893 - 2 Jul 1896
[4/3981] 1 Jul 1896 - 17 Dec 1901
[4/3982] 26 Aug 1902 - 24 Jan 1908
[4/3989] 6 Jan 1893 - 16 Dec 1896
ii) Copies of telegrams to and from overseas government offices, 26 Mar 1886 - 26 Oct 1909, NRS 1011 [4/3991]
1 vol
iii) Copies of telegrams to and from overseas commercial agents, 29 Aug 1902 - 21 May 1907, NRS 1012 [4/3990]
1 vol
There is a subject index in the front of the volume.
iv) Telegraphic Cipher Codes, 1880, 1886, 1891, NRS 1009 [4/3992-95]
4 vols
For description see NRS 1009 in the Inventory of Series.

8. Indexes and Registers
i) Indexes and Registers to letters received, 1826-1921, NRS 922
329 vols
ii) Card index, 1922-41, NRS 923
26 boxes
iii) File movement registers, 1922-66, NRS 924
72 vols
iv) Schedules of papers presented to the Governor for decision, 1832-34, NRS 925
15 vols
The schedules provide details of registered number, date, name of applicant, subject, Colonial Secretary's report, and the Governor's decision.
SR Item and Date
[4/439] Nov 1832
[4/440] Dec 1832
[4/441] Jan 1833
[4/442] Feb 1833
[4/443] Mar 1833
[4/444] Apr 1833
[4/445] May 1833
[4/446] Jun 1833
[4/447] Jul 1833
[4/448] Aug 1833
[4/449] Sep 1833
[4/450] Oct 1833
[4/451] Nov 1833
[4/452] Dec 1833
[4/453] Jan - May 1834
v) Register of Blank Cover references re Land, 1831, NRS 926 [4/7091]
1 vol
Register of letters received referred to another public officer, most often the Surveyor General. The volume records blank cover number, registered number, to whom referred and date referred, subject to be reported on, and when reported.
vi) Registers of Blank Cover references (letters referred to other government departments), 10 Mar 1837 - 14 May 1844, NRS 927
4 vols
The registers record blank cover number, date, from whom received, to whom referred, registered number, and subject.
There are indexes in the front of the volumes.
SR Item and Date
[4/3969] 1 Mar 1837 - 17 Sep 1839
[4/3970] 22 Sep 1839 - 27 Jan 1842
[4/3971] 15 Jan 1842 - 3 May 1843
[2/2173] 2 Apr 1843 - 14 May 1844 (mainly land matters)
vii) Register of reports from Commissioners of Crown Lands beyond the limits of locations, 1840-47, NRS 928 [4/6664 part]
1 vol (part)
This volume records the reports received from the various Commissioners of Crown Land and notes the registered number given the reports. There were five kinds of reports:
a) Monthly report of Conduct of Border Police (from July 1840);
b) Monthly report of Employment (from July 1840);
c) Half yearly returns of Horses (from July 1840);
d) Itinerary (from July 1842); and
e) Census (from October 1844).
viii) Register of letters received from the Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand addressed to the Governor of New South Wales, 1840 - 4 July 1842, NRS 929 ([4/6675]; microfilm copy SR Reel 2795)
1 vol
The correspondence is filed with the Main Series of Letters Received with the exception of those letters which are in the Dixson Library.
The Colonial Secretary registered the letters received from New Zealand addressed to the Governor separately during this period. The register records an annual single registration number, date when written and when registered, name of author, residence, summary of content and notes of action taken.
There is an index in the front of the volume.
ix) Register of orders and addresses from the Legislative Council and Assembly, 1853-57, NRS 930 [4/431]
1 vol
The Orders and Addresses are in the Main Series of Letters Received.
When a motion was put requesting material and/or information to be tabled, the Colonial Secretary produced the documents which were returned to him. This register refers to these. It shows registration number, date received, Council or Assembly number, date motion was made, on whose motion, presented by, subject (copy of the motion which was submitted), how disposed of, and remarks.
There is an alphabetical index in the front of the volume.
x) Register of Customs Conventions and Postal Agreements, 1873, NRS 931 [4/7038]
1 vol
The Customs Conventions are listed in the list of Special Bundles.
xi) Register of Despatches sent to the Colonial Secretary for action by the Government (M/B registrations), 1890-1912, NRS 932 [4/8263]
1 vol
This volume records despatches from the Secretary of State to the Governor which were forwarded to the Colonial Secretary for his information or for subsequent action (eg., gazettal notification, transfer to the relevant Department, etc.). The register records: number, date received, date of the despatch, subject and how disposed of. The despatches themselves are located in the Main Series of Letters Received in separate bundles labelled "Despatches" and numbered M (running no.)/B.
There is also a "skeleton register" in State Records, arranged by despatch number, which will assist in finding individual despatches.

Skeleton Register

Because of the difficulty occasionally experienced in finding particular registered letters within this system, particularly during the period 1833-49, State Records has undertaken the construction of a 'skeleton register' ie annual volumes in registered number order against which are noted the location of individual letters as they are found. It will be some years before this work is completed - the Main series up to the middle of 1844 has been done to date, together with a few Special bundles, and papers located in the Dixson Library.

In addition to the Skeleton Register, a selective index to the Colonial Secretary's in-letters has been compiled by Mrs Joan Reese. Copies of this index, the Index to convicts and others, 1826-94, are available in the reading room at: Fiche 5557-5559, 5736-5738, 5907-5909, 5955-5957, 5966-5968, 6069-6074, 6127-6129, 6433-6435, 6448-6450 and 6453-6455.

There is also an index to the returns of applications for the publication of banns (1828-41) which has been compiled by Joan Reese and Norma Tuck. Copies of this index are available in the reading room at SR Fiche 5270-5277.