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Short Guide 8 - Land grants, 1788-1856

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About this guide | Historical background | List of series | Appendices

About this guide

State Records' Short Guides are designed to provide easy reference to record series relating to a particular subject or area of research. This guide provides a list of records relating to Land Grants and Leases, 1788-1856. It was previously published as Information Leaflet 7.

This Short Guide lists many of the most convenient sources of information on land grants. However, other material may be found by consulting Archives Investigator under the following headings:

  • Colonial Secretary
  • Court of Claims
  • Lands
  • Registrar General
  • Surveyor General
  • Treasury.

The records listed in this Short Guide relate to the original alienation of land from the Crown. In many cases, similar information relating to these grants may also be found in records held by the Lands Department and the Land Titles Office. Researchers wishing to trace information on land transactions after the original grant should contact the Land Titles Office.

Parish maps are useful for research in this area, as they record original grants. State Records holds a substantial number of parish maps, and various finding aids (including a card index) are available in State Records' Reading Room. Parish maps are also held by the Mitchell Library.

Historical background

Governor Phillip, in his Instructions dated 25 April 1787, was empowered to grant land to emancipists. Each male was entitled to 30 acres, an additional 20 acres if married, and 10 acres for each child with him in the settlement at the time of the grant (Historical Records of Australia 1.1.14). To encourage free settlers to the colony, Phillip received additional Instructions dated 20 August 1789 (HRA 1.1.124-8) entitling non-commissioned Marine Officers to 100 acres and privates to 50 acres over and above the quantity allowed to convicts. Other settlers coming to the colony were also to be given grants.

Land grants issued during the Rum Rebellion 1808-09 were cancelled by Governor Macquarie but those which had been granted to "very deserving and Meritorious Persons" he later renewed (HRA 1.7.268).

In 1825 the sale of land by private tender began (Instructions to Governor Brisbane, 17 July 1825, HRA 1.12.107-125). There were still to be grants without purchase but they were not to exceed 2,560 acres or be less than 320 acres unless in the immediate vicinity of a town or village. The Instructions required the Governor to arrange for a new Survey of the colony and the division of the settled districts into Counties, Hundreds and Parishes. The unoccupied lands were then to be valued and eventually sold by tender, if not otherwise reserved, at not less than the average value for that parish. This scheme was slow in being implemented (HRA 1.16.274).

In a despatch dated 9 January 1831, Viscount Goderich instructed that no more free grants (except those already promised) be given. All land was thenceforth to be sold at public auction (HRA 1.16.22). Likewise the practice of granting land as "marriage portions" to the children of colonists was discontinued (HRA 1.16.353, 793). The new regulations were notified in a Government Notice of 1 July 1831 and published in a Government Order dated 1 August 1831.

Please note that whenever reference is made in this Short Guide to microfilm or microfiche, or to publications of the State Records Authority of New South Wales, copies are available in the reading room.

List of series

NRS 1217, NRS 1219, NRS 13837, Indexes to Registers of Land Grants and Leases, 1792-1865 *ARK
Reels 1480, 2561-2562, 2560; Fiche 3262, photocopy COD205
A list of the indexes is appended.

NRS 1215, NRS 1216, NRS 13836, Registers of Land Grants and Leases, 1792-c.1856 *ARK (NRS 13836 only)
Reels 2910, 773, 1913, 2705-2714, 1727-1778, 1453-1455, 2560-2561, 2846, 2548-2550, 2700-2705, 1397
These go as late as 1924. See appendix.

NRS 1213, List of all grants and leases of land registered in the Colonial Secretary's Office, 22 February 1792-3 October 1809 *ARK (Fiche)
Reel 1999; Fiche 3267-3268; COD 211, Q50
The list is indexed in the published Index to the Colonial Secretary's papers, 1788-1825 and in the facsimile edition (COD 211 and Q50) published by Genealogical Publications of Australia.

NRS 1213, List of all grants and leases of town allotments registered in the Colonial Secretary's Office, 8 December 1792-1 January 1814 [9/2731 pp. 190-243] *ARK (Fiche)
Reel 1999; Fiche 3268; COD 211, Q50
The list is indexed in the published Index to the Colonial Secretary's papers, 1788-1825 and in the facsimile edition (COD 211 and Q50) published by Genealogical Publications of Australia.

NRS 1215, Registers of Land Grants, 1792-1809
These are the earliest grant registers which due to their very fragile condition are not issued.

Item list for NRS 1215:

Reel Item Vol. Dates
2910 [SZ75] 1 1792-1795
773 [SZ47] 2 1795-1800
1913 [SZ76] 3 1800-1809
2505 4 Apr 1809-Jan 1810

Return of land granted in NSW, 1792
PRO Reel 3554 T1/703; available in the reading room and at Mitchell Library
The return records name of settler, status, if married etc., time of becoming settler, number of acres granted, where, and ground in cultivation.

Index to copies of land grants issued, Van Diemen's Land, 1804-23
Reel 1988
Original record in Archives Office of Tasmania, series no. LSD404.
The index is a typescript so was obviously copied from an earlier record.

Copies of land grants issued, Van Diemen's Land, 1804-23
Reels 1986-1988
Original records in Archives Office of Tasmania, series no. LSD354. The first volume contains typescript extracts of the entries in the New South Wales Grant Registers relating to land in Tasmania (pp. 1-51).
Item list for above series:
Reel Tas Vol. Vol. Dates of grants Dates of registration
1986 1 Various 15 Aug 1804-18 Jul 1815
1986 2 5 20 Sep 1813 31 Jul 1816
1986 3 6 20 Sep 1813-31 Dec 1820 31 Jul 1816-31 Mar 1821
1987 4 9 31 Dec 1820-30 Jan 1823 31 Mar 1821-30 Jan 1823
1987 5 15 30 Jun 1823 30 Jan 1823
1988 6 16 30 Jan 1823 30 Jun 1823
1988 7 17 30 Jun 1823 30 Jun 1823
1988 8 18 30 Jan 1823 30 Jun 1823

Registers giving descriptions of land granted in Van Diemen's Land, 1804-23
Original record in Archives Office of Tasmania, series no. LSD405; State Records copy Reel 1988

NRS 899, Colonial Secretary: Memorials received relating to land, 1810-26 *ARK (1810-25 Fiche)
Reels 1066-1080; Fiche 3001-3162
Memorials from individuals to the Governor requesting a grant of land providing many personal particulars.
The memorials are indexed, 1810-25, in the Index to the Colonial Secretary's papers, 1788-1825.
There is a card index covering 1826 at State Records [City]; and a microfilm copy of the original card index 1810-26 at the Western Sydney reading room on Reels 1250-1251.

NRS 1220, Returns of free settlers and other free persons to receive land grants, 1811-28 *ARK (1811-25 Fiche)
Reel 2654; Fiche 3266
The returns for 1811-25 are indexed in the published Index to the Colonial Secretary's papers, 1788-1825.

NRS 1222, Nominal list of persons owing Quit-Rent in Tasmania, 1811-23
Reel 2646; Fiche 3270
The list is indexed in the published Index to the Colonial Secretary's papers, 1788-1825.

NRS 13912, Order books for Land Grants, 1811-39
The volumes usually record date of order, name of promiser, residence, number of acres, by whom ordered, and remarks (usually relating to whether granted or not or how deed issued).
Item list for NRS 13912:
Reel Item Dates
1434 [2/1934] 1811-39
[2/1919] 1811-21
[2/1920] 1811-21
[2/7684] 1811-19
[2/1921] 1822-25 Many of these
[2/1922] 1822-25 volumes duplicate
[2/1923] 1822-25 information
[2/1925] May-Nov 1825
[2/1927] 1822-25
[2/1929] 1821-25
[2/8329] 1826-28
[2/1931] 1831-38

NRS 13902, Description book, Van Diemen's Land, to 1813
COD 240; Reel 1434
The volume records number, name, district and description of land.

NRS 13914, List of grants made in New South Wales, 25 August 1812 - 25 March 1821
Reel 2646
Arranged under the letters of the alphabet, the list records to whom granted, number of acres, where situated and when granted.

An Accurate List of the Names of the Land-Holders in the colony of New South Wales, pointing out the number of acres in each district, as Granted from the Crown, corrected to 1813 [Printed in London, 1814]
Photocopy in the Sydney reading room at COD 270 of copy in Lands Department; additional photocopy at COD 271 of copy in Mitchell Library at 991/A
The Lands Department copy is numbered A.288A and accompanied plan A.288. A copy of this plan is held by State Records and is numbered Reference Sheet No. 22.

NRS 13913, List of orders for Land Grants made by Sir Thomas Brisbane, 1821-25
Reel 3144
Alphabetically arranged by year, the list notes name, date of order and number of acres.
There is also a List of Individuals who had obtained warrants for the purchase of Crown Lands, April - October 1825.

NRS 1223, Abstracts from orders for grants and town allotments, 1822-26
COD 67

NRS 1224, Certificates of entitlement to land grants for veteran pensioners, October - November 1823 *ARK
COD 125; Fiche 3263
Indexed in the published Index to the Colonial Secretary's papers, 1788-1825.

NRS 1226, Nominal list of land granted and reserved by Sir Thomas Brisbane, 24 May 1824-1 December 1825 *ARK
COD 69; Fiche 3269
Indexed in the published Index to the Colonial Secretary's papers, 1788-1825.

NRS 907, Colonial Secretary: Letters received from individuals re land, 1826-56
Reels 1081-1200
There is an online Index to the Colonial Secretary's Letters relating to Land.

NRS 944, Colonial Secretary: Copies of letters sent to individuals and organizations etc. re land, 2 January 1827 - 17 November 1856
From 13 January 1849 to 26 May 1855 letters re land outside the settled districts are in next series below.
Item list for NRS 944:
Reel Item Dates
2298 [4/3555] 2 Jan 1827 - 31 Dec 1827
2298 [4/3556] 2 Jan 1828 - 18 Dec 1828
2299 [4/3557] 18 Dec 1828 - 26 May 1829
2299 [4/3558] 26 May 1829 - 3 Sep 1829
2299 [4/3559] 5 Sep 1829 - 31 Dec 1829
2300 [4/3560] 2 Jan 1830 - 6 Apr 1830
2300 [4/3561] 8 Apr 1830 - 12 Jul 1830
2301 [4/3562] 13 Jul 1830 - 7 Oct 1830
2301 [4/3563] 8 Oct 1830 - 28 Dec 1830
2301 [4/3564] 1 Jan 1831 - 6 Apr 1831
2302 [4/3565] 8 Apr 1831 - 4 Jul 1831
2302 [4/3566] 5 Jul 1831 - 20 Oct 1831
2303 [4/3567] 13 Oct 1831 - 1 Dec 1831
2303 [4/3568] 6 Dec 1831 - 30 Jun 1832
2303 [4/3569] 2 Jul 1832 - 24 Dec 1832
2304 [4/3570] 26 Dec 1832 - 8 Oct 1833
2304 [4/3571] 10 Oct 1833 - 29 Nov 1834
2305 [4/3572] 9 Nov 1834 - 14 May 1836
2305 [4/3573] 17 May 1836 - 3 Aug 1837
2305 [4/3574] 4 Aug 1837 - 25 Feb 1838
2306 [4/3575] 23 Feb 1838 - 10 Oct 1838
2306 [4/3576] 11 Oct 1838 - 9 Apr 1839
2307 [4/3577] 11 Apr 1839 - 23 Sep 1839
2307 [4/3578] 24 Sep 1839 - 18 May 1840
2308 [4/3579] 16 May 1840 - 28 Dec 1840
2308 [4/3580] 1 Jan 1841 - 9 Nov 1841
2308 [4/3581] 11 Nov 1841 - 25 Sep 1842
2309 [4/3582] 24 Sep 1842 - 25 Jul 1843
2309 [4/3583] 25 Jul 1843 - 14 Oct 1844
2310 [4/3584] 16 Oct 1844 - 16 Jul 1846
2310 [4/3585] 20 Jul 1846 - 6 Mar 1848
2310 [4/3586] 6 Mar 1848 - 19 Nov 1849
2311 [4/3587] 19 Nov 1849 - 18 Aug 1851
2311 [4/3588] 18 Aug 1851 - 18 Jun 1853
2312 [4/3589] 20 Jun 1853 - 1 Jul 1854
2312 [4/3590] 30 Jun 1854 - 8 Jun 1855
2313 [4/3591] 13 Jan 1849 - 8 Jun 1855
8 Jun 1855 - 15 Dec 1855
2313 [4/3592] 15 Dec 1855 - 17 Nov 1856

NRS 945, Copies of letters sent re land outside the settled districts, 13 January 1849- 26 May 1855
Reel 2313
Copies of letters to individuals relating to the occupation of crown lands. From June 1855 letters of this type are entered in the series above.

NRS 1229, Registers of notices of the intention to issue deeds of grant for town allotments, 8 June 1830 - 31 December 1845
Item List for NRS 1229:
Reel Item Dates
2652 [2/1945] 8 Jun 1830 - 24 Feb 1836
2653 [2/1946] 28 Mar 1836 - 13 Apr 1839
2654 [2/1947] 4 May 1839 - 31 Dec 1845
NRS 1230, Registers of notices of the intention to issue deeds of grant for lands, 10 September 1830 - 1 February 1856

 

Item List for NRS 1230:

Reel Item Dates
2653 [2/2143] 10 Sep 1830 - 6 Nov 1837
2653 [2/2144] 2 Jan 1838 - 14 Dec 1839
2654 [2/2145] 10 Feb 1840 - 1 Feb 1856

NRS 1233, Index to applications for title deeds, 1839-54
Reel 1439

NRS 1236, Register of notices of the intention to grant land, 1846-55
COD 68

Port Phillip District - Land and Immigration Receipts, 1849-51
COD 257
This list and index was compiled by Mr Ian A. Hughes.
The receipts are listed in chronological order, 16 May 1849 - 20 June 1851, and this list notes date, name, place and amount pages 1-9. There is also an index to the list on pages 10-15.

Appendices

The appendices include the following:

*ARK signifies that a copy of the record or guide is part of the Archives Resources Kit and is held by the community access points.