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Depasturing licences, 1837-46, 1851

This index will be of interest to local and family historians researching the people who leased land beyond the Nineteen Counties. There was some unauthorised occupation of Crown land from the earliest days of the colony. Governor Darling created an area known as the 'limits of location' — creating two areas within the colony by a Government order on 5 September 1826. Settlers were only allowed to take up land within the ‘limits’. A further Government order on 14 October 1829 increased this area of approved settlement to include an area called the Nineteen Counties

The term ‘depasturing’ refers to the consumption of the produce of land (grass) as pasture or to graze on the land (see the Macquarie Dictionary).

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About Depasturing | About the Index | Further research | Feedback

Thank you Janice and ValerieThis index was compiled by Mrs Janice Brooks and the late Mrs Valerie Moses. The index is published on State Records' website with the permission of Mrs Brooks, who also retains the copyright. State Records wishes to acknowledge the contribution of Mrs Brooks and Mrs Moses in compiling this index.

About Depasturing

Australian Encyclopaedia (Volume 6, page 344; Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1958)Licences to depasture the Crown Land beyond the limits of location were granted on application to the Colonial Secretary. Depasturing Licences permitted settlers to graze stock on Crown Lands "beyond the limits of location". The "limits of location" refer to the nineteen counties of settled area extending from Sydney.

In September 1836 an Act of Council imposed an annual licence fee of Ten pounds per year. This was the first real attempt to regulate and control squatting beyond the "limits of location". It was intended to restrain the dishonest, without disturbing honest occupiers, unless it was to make room for a purchaser.

Persons who complied with this Notice were issued with a Certificate to Depasture stock beyond the Limits of Location. From 1839 applications for depasturing licences were made to the Commissioner of Crown Lands in the appropriate district. Depasturing Licences were granted for one year and were renewable.

This background information has been sourced from the Introduction to the Index to the Certificates for Depasturing Licences 1837-1846, 1851 and Associated Indexes, 1837-51 written by Valerie Moses & Janice Brooks.

About the Index

The following series have been indexed:

NRS 14363, Certificates for depasturing licences [Revenue Branch] 1837-46, 1851 [4/91-108, 4/112] 19 vols.
Each certificate shows a registered number, date, name and residence of licensee, situation (whether north, west, south etc.), district, period of licence and amount of fee. There are no certificates of depasturing licences between 1847-50. Refer to the Government Gazettes for the list of licences issued during this period.

Government Gazette, Jan-Feb 1837
The Gazette records number of licence, name, residence, situation and district.

NRS 14363 Depasturing licence no 605
Government Gazette 1937 Depasturing licences issued p43 NRS 14363 Depasturing licence no 674

What you will find in the Index

The index records name of the licence number, name of the licence holder, date, residence, location, District, and reel/item number. The index is also available on Microfiche 5926-5940 in both reading room. In addition to locating the depasturing licence, it is possible that there may be additional information about the application for the depasturing licence in the main letters received by the Colonial Secretary, 1826-1982 (NRS 905) and the Letters received relating to land, 1826-56 (NRS 907).

Important!It should be noted that in certain cases the licences do not show any further information than recorded in the index.

Are copies available from this index?

We do not offer a copy service from this index at present. Records have been microfilmed and are available to access in the reading room. The microfilms are also part of the Archives Resources Kit which is located at many community access points.

Further research

It may be possible that additional information can be located by searching the following series:

NRS 14364, Treasury, Revenue Branch, Annual returns of depasturing licences, 1850-54 [X721-24]
Date: 1850-51 Item: X721 Reel: 3121; Date: 1851-52 Item: X722 Reel: 3122;
Date: 1852-53 Item: X723 Reel: 3123; Date: 1853-54 Item: X724 Reel: 3124. 
These returns show occupation of land "beyond the limits of location" for twelve-month periods ending 30 June. There are separate returns for each district. Each return shows: number of entry, name of licensed occupant, name of station or run, extent of run, number of stock on each run (horse, cattle, sheep), amount of licence fee, when credited at Colonial Treasury and remarks.

NRS 905, Colonial Secretary, Main series of letters received, 1826-1982
The indexes and registers to the main series of letters received should be consulted for references to applications for depasturing licences prior to 1849 as well as letters received from Commissioners of Crown Lands from 1834 and the Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands after 1848.

NRS 906, Colonial Secretary - Special Bundles, Returns of applications to depasture stock on the Crown Lands beyond the limits of locations, 19 October 1836-13 May 1837 [4/1117.1] Reel 3123
The returns record registered number, date of application, name of applicant, trade or calling, residence, land applied for - situation and district, whether the applicant was married or single, number of children, name and condition of person under whose care the stock were to be placed, and real or personal estate possessed amongst other property by applicant.

NRS 906, Colonial Secretary – Special bundles, Itineraries and returns of Commissioners of Crown Lands, 1837-49, [X811-18 and 5/6102, reels 2748-2749]
The itineraries provide a monthly record of the activities of the Commissioner. The half-yearly returns of population and livestock show names of station, owner and superintendent; extent and area of run; how watered; number of free and bonded persons on run; number of horses, cows and sheep; and amount of assessment. In addition, we also hold NRS 1391 Itineraries of Commissioner Foster Fyans, 1844, Jan-Jun 1846; and Returns of population and livestock, Jan 1844-Jan 1846 [X690-91, reel 2756].

NRS 907, Colonial Secretary, Letters from individuals re Land, 1826-56 [2/7787-8013, reels 1081-1200; SZ998-99, photocopy COD194-195]
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. A list of persons writing has been compiled by State Records and is available on State Records website at: Index to Colonial Secretary's Letters relating to Land.

NRS 958, Colonial Secretary, Copies of letters to Commissioners of Crown Lands, 28 Apr 1834-9 Nov 1836 [4/6188 part; reel 2996], 20 Feb 1837-11 Feb 1847 [4/3659-61; reel 2996]
By Acts of Council in 1836 and 1839 Commissioners of Crown Lands were appointed for the squatting districts and these were the sole officials of Government beyond the Nineteen Counties. Prior to 1848 the Colonial Secretary corresponded directly with the various Commissioners of Crown Lands outside the Settled Districts. These are copies of letters mainly addressed to the Commissioners of Crown Lands beyond the Boundaries of Location.

NRS 948, Colonial Secretary, Copies of letters to the Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands, 1848-56 [4/3610-13, reels 2980-2981]
By a public notice dated 26 December 1848 all correspondence from private individuals respecting leases, tenders, and all matters of detail connected with Crown Land beyond the settled districts, were to be addressed to the Chief Commissioner. Until then the Colonial Secretary corresponded directly with the various Commissioners of Crown Lands outside the Settled Districts (see NRS 958 Copies of letters to Commissioners of Crown Lands, 1834-47).


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