Index to Aboriginal Colonial court cases
This index was prepared in 1988/9 by Victoria Jane Barclay Gollan (born 1958) as a research and writing aid for a Doctorate of Philosophy on Aborigines and the Law for Sydney University. She held a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in French. She did not complete the thesis before she died in 1996.
Victoria used the indexes and guides available in the then Archives Authority of NSW to trace records of persons, whose recorded names suggested Aboriginality and non-European origins, before the Law. She recorded cases of persons charged for crimes against named Aboriginal people and Aboriginal people charged with a crime. She intended to include a chapter in her thesis about the inequity suffered by Aboriginal people before the Law in colonial Australia.
She recorded cases she suspected were of indigenous people from other countries, as well as cases that seemed to be concerned with Australian Aboriginal people, to assist her in describing the particular disadvantages Aboriginal people suffered. She was interested in the changes in New South Wales of the operation of British Law, as it affected Aboriginal people, within the first half of the nineteenth century and in the attitudes of individual judges.
She chose to enter her records in a relational database so that she could search her records easily. Her choice of this research technique has resulted in record that may be of use to other researchers. She made her database available to me during the early 1990s and, using that generosity as a guide to Victoria’s intentions, her mother, Mrs Beverley Gollan, has made it available for researchers in Aboriginal history.
Victoria's interest in Aboriginal history is marked in a scholarship for an Aboriginal student in the Faculty of Law at Sydney University known as the Victoria Gollan Memorial Scholarship for an Aboriginal Student.
Barbara Le Maistre
A note on the entries
Users should be aware that, in some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities, hearing the names of deceased persons may cause sadness or distress, particularly to the relatives of these people.
Users of this index are warned that there may be words or descriptions which may be sensitive to some Aboriginal people.
Some of the information contained within the records may be viewed as being offensive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people because of the context in which they were created. Often the language and opinions expressed in the records may be considered as highly offensive.
There are approximately 250 entries in the index.
State Records is unaware of whether this database is a complete record of Aboriginal people and the law held as NSW State archives in the period 1788-1838.
What records have been indexed
NRS 13477, Informations and other papers, 1824-1947, [T19-T115], Semi-processed.
NRS 13696, Miscellaneous correspondence relating to Aborigines, 1797-1840, 1797, 1804-06, 1814-16, 1824-40 [5/1161]; (COD294A & B).
Courts of Petty Sessions
NRS 3397, Judge Advocate's Bench, Proceedings, 19 February 1788-1821, 11 vols.
NRS 3016, Gosford (Brisbane Water), Copies of letters sent, 21 Aug 1826-15 Sep 1874, [4/5525 part pp.345-93], Reel 895; [4/5526 and 5/3167-68], Reel 2663.
Clerk of the Peace
NRS 845, Depositions and other papers, Sydney and Country, 1824-1920.
NRS 897, Colonial Secretary's Correspondence, Main series of letters received, 1788-1826, Microfilm copy of letters to 1825 on Reels 6041-6064, 6071-6072.
Court of Criminal Jurisdiction
NRS 2700, Minutes of proceedings, 1788-1815, [5/1147A & B], Reel 2391; [X905, 5/1149-50], Reels 2651-2652; [5/1119-21], Reel 2390
NRS 2702, Miscellaneous criminal papers, 1788-1816, 1788-91, 1798-1800, 1802, 1805, 1807-16, [5/1152], Reel 2392
NRS 2703, Informations, depositions and related papers, 1796-1824, see table below for specific references.
|[SZ776A-803]||Oct 1816-Feb 1824||Photocopy of SZ776 A&B at COD405 A& B
Photocopy of SZ777-792 at COD437-442, COD443-452C
Microfilm copy of SZ776C at Reel 1984
Microfilm copy of SZ793-803 at Reels 1975-1981
NRS 2704, Returns of prisoners tried, 1812-24, 10 Nov 1812-31 May 1813 [2/8327], Reel 2393, Oct 1816-Feb 1824 [X725], Reel 2652
All copied records are available in our reading room. Original material is held at our Western Sydney Records Centre, Kingswood.
At this stage we are not offering a copy service for court records.
References to Aboriginal people in the Colonial Secretary Correspondence, 1788-1825 can be ordered online.
Feedback and suggestions are welcomed should there by any further references to Aboriginal people located by researchers in this period.