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Colonial Secretary

The correspondence of the Colonial Secretary is one of the most valuable sources of information on all aspects of the history of the Colony and the State of New South Wales.

History of the Office

The British Government in establishing the convict settlement at Botany Bay was little concerned with such administrative details as who would be responsible for the records of the colony...

Yet the Governor was responsible for almost all aspects of the inhabitants' lives and these activities had to be recorded. Phillip and his successors regulated the supply of rations, they granted lands, they allotted convicts to those who could employ them. They gave assistance to settlers and established Government stores. They fixed the prices of commodities, the rates of wages, and the hours of labour. They imposed tolls and duties. They gave and withdrew licences to trade. They established and controlled markets. They checked the weights and measures, struck a currency and fixed the rate of interest. They mustered the population periodically and published orders which forbade the holding of seditious meetings. They caused the different courts to be assembled, they examined and modified the penalties which the courts imposed. They made provision for the maintenance of order. "