A draft Charter of Incorporation for the Management of the Church and School Estates was despatched from Earl Bathurst (Secretary of State for the Colonies) to the Governor, Sir Thomas Brisbane on 30 June 1825. The Charter created trustees who would manage certain lands dedicated to be used for profit in order to provide for the maintenance of the Church of England clergy and education of children. The Trustees were as follows
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court;
The members of the Legislative Council;
The Archdeacon of New South Wales (Vice President);
Attorney General or Solicitor General; and
Nine senior chaplains
The Corporation was known as the Trustees of the Clergy and School Lands in the Colony of New South Wales and as a corporation could be sued, plead and be impleaded, acquire, hold and alienate lands, and use a common seal.
The Trustees were to meet quarterly in open court following notification in government gazette or newspapers and when required special courts could be held following similar public advices. The Trustees were authorised to make rules, orders, by-laws and regulations to govern both their meetings and the business of the Corporation. Once approved by the Governor such rules were binding upon the Trustees, employees and agents. The Corporation was required to keep a book in which all of these rules were entered and the book was to be retained at the corporation offices. A quorum of the Trustees was seven members. Votes were taken by the majority of persons present at a meeting, and when the votes were evenly divided the President had the right of a casting vote. The Corporation could refer tasks to committees consisting of between five and nine of its own members. Each committee could serve for a maximum of three months. A quorum for a committee meeting was three members.
The Clergy and School Lands Corporation was to establish an office in the Colony and no relocation of the office could occur unless resolved by a meeting of the trustees. The Trustees could appoint, renew and terminate staff except a Treasurer; the Colonial Treasurer was the treasurer of the Corporation.
The functions of the Corporation included:
Managing, cultivating and improving lands granted to them by hiring the relevant staff;
Erecting the necessary buildings on the land;
Selling surplus lands provided that 2/3 of the original land was retained;
Granting leases over the land granted to them for which rents were to be paid to the Colonial Treasurer;
The Corporation could borrow funds on mortgage to finance cultivation or improvements to lands;
The proceeds of sales, leases and other activities could be used to pay administrative costs on running the office and paying the staff. All of the proceeds of the sales were to be paid to the Colonial Treasurer. The Colonial Treasurer was to maintain a separate account for the Corporation containing all of the monies derived from the sale and lease of lands, and could make the funds available to the Corporation if required to fulfil its functions. The Treasurer was to present an annual financial statement at the first meeting each calendar year. The accounts were audited by a Committee of the Trustees. The net balance was divided equally into two funds- “The Improvement and Building Account and the ‘Clergy and School Account’. The former account was used for the construction of roads, drains and fences, repairing churches, parsonages and school houses repairing the various buildings required for agricultural purposes and otherwise as required for clearing, settling and improving the estates. The ‘Clergy and School Account’ was used to support the Church of England clergy and to maintain and support schools.
The schools that were supported by the Corporation were Church of England schools under the control of the clergyman of the local parish. The Bishop (or Archdeacon in his absence) was the visitor of all such schools in the Colony and was responsible for the appointment of teachers (including removal if necessary).
The management of any lands previously set aside for the benefit of orphans or the education of children were to be brought under the control of the Corporation and the Glebe lands transferred to the Corporation following the death, resignation or removal of the clergyman currently in occupation. These lands could be appropriated for the construction of churches or other buildings, cemeteries, school buildings, parsonages or ‘personal use or occupation’ of a clergyman or school master.
The Trustees of the Corporation were required to report bi-annually regarding the extent and condition of the lands under their control, the proportion under cultivation, the expenditure on improvements, the buildings erected stating the number of each type - churches, parsonages, school buildings, other public buildings. The Trustees were also required to provide a statement of income and expenditure.
The Corporation could be dissolved by the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the assets disposed of in a manner that supported the promotion of religion and the education of children. (1)
The final charter (Letters Patent 9 March, 1826) containing some amendments of the former draft Charter was received by the Governor on 17 July 1825. The Corporation was inaugurated when the Trustees met for the first time on 27th April 1826 and a committee was formed to draft by-laws, regulations and rules for proceedings. (2)
Legislation was passed to enable the Orphan school lands to be vested in the Clergy and School Lands Corporation and the Corporation became responsible for the management of the orphan schools. (3)
1/7 of the land in each county was proposed to have become church and school estates available to the corporation. However the transfers of land were dependent upon the survey of the colony and for the first four years of its operation the Corporation was entirely financed by Treasury. In September 1828 Francis Forbes (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) foreshadowed a motion for the following meeting of the Trustees lamenting that two and a half years after incorporation the Trustees were still without lands, therefore unable to perform the tasks assigned to them, and asking that as an initial step the Governor reserve lands in the settled areas for this purpose. (4)
On 31 December 1830 the functions of the Trustees were terminated and five Commissioners were appointed to perform ‘to perform the Several duties vested in that Body’ on 1 January, 1831. (5)
[On 21 June, 1830 the Government of the United Kingdom had appointed Commissioners of Inquiry to inquire into the revenue and expenditure of the c6olonies and foreign possessions. Their third report, submitted on 1 November 1830 was on the Australian Colonies. (6) In regard to the church and school lands the Commissioners had observed that the grant of 1/7 of all land in each county had failed. The estates were often neglected and under cultivated, and the plan had caused the colony to be wider dispersed than would otherwise be necessary resulting in a greater administrative expense. (7) In response to this report the instruction regarding the reserve of 1/7 of the land was abolished in February, 1831.] (8)
On 14 February 1831 the Secretary of State had corresponded with the Governor regarding the dissolution of the Corporation. In September that year the Governor conveyed the opinion of the Attorney General and three judges of the Supreme Court that the instructions were inadequate to dissolve the Corporation preferring to wait ‘until His Majesty’s intention on this subject be better understood’. (9)
The Corporation was finally dissolved 'by order of the King’s Most Excellent Majesty in Council' on 4 February 1833. (10)
"An Act for regulating the Affairs of the late Corporation of the Trustees of the Clergy and School Lands and to secure to the Purchasers their Titles to certain Lands purchased by them from the said Corporation" which received assent on 5 August 1834 authorised the appointment of an agent or agents to be responsible for the management and disposal of the land and property belonging to the former Corporation. (11) The Agents continued with their duties until about 1860.
(1) Draft Charter of the Incorporation for Management of Church and School Estates. Enclosure No. 1 Despatch No. 1 Earl Bathurst to Sir Thomas Brisbane 30 June 1825. In Historical Records of Australia. Series 1 Volume 11 pp 444- 454
(2) Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Volume 12 p. 250
(3) An Act for vesting the Orphan School Estates in the Trustees of the Clergy and School Lands … 1826 [7 George IV, Act no IV]
(4) Reproduced in Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Volume 14 p. 390-391
(5) Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol 16 p. 59
(6) Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol 15. Commentary, Note 9 p. 848
(7) Ibid. Note 24 p. 850
(8) Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol 16 p. 81
(9) Ibid p. 381
(10) Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol 17 p 34
(11) William IV, Act no. 11, 1834 s. 2ff
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