The Real Property Act, 1862 established a system whereby owners could convert land granted prior to 1863 to Real Property Act title. This is done by what is called a Primary Application. These records are an important research resource as the supporting documentation lodged with the application often remains in the packet.
The Real Property Act, 1862 established a system whereby owners could convert land granted prior to 1863 to Real Property Act title. This is done by what is called a Primary Application.
There are two ways of evidencing or proving freehold title to land by documents. One is by what is sometimes known as Torrens Title. In NSW this is more correctly referred to as Real Property Act title. This is the system of registered title to land administered by the Department of Lands (formerly Land Titles Office) under the provisions of the Real Property Act 1900. This system started in NSW on 1 January 1863 under the Real Property Act 1862 (the forerunner of the current Act).
The other way of evidencing title to land is what is now known as Old System Title. This is the way it was done before Robert Torrens had the main elements of his proposed system adopted in all Australian colonies. This is the system of proving title to land by producing the deeds by which successive owners of the land transferred or conveyed title until it reached its present owner. Land granted to settlers before 1863 was conveyed under this system. After 1863 land grants were made under the Real Property Act system.
Torrens devised his system of government-sponsored registration of title to land to overcome difficulties in the existing system - the uncertainty, expense and delay in conveying and holding title - caused by a variety of possible problems including competing claims, missing documents, incorrect description of lands and the system's inherent complexity.
Converting Old System Title
To convert land held under Old System Title the current owner needs to lodge the completed Primary Application form together with a survey of the land and documents proving title, which includes a set of deeds, with the Department of Lands. This supporting documentation - including any correspondence between Lands and the owner(s) about the land - is placed in a 'packet' known as the Primary Application packet. Note that the Application forms themselves have since been separated from the packets (see NRS 13012 under Related Records below).
If the application is accepted, a Certificate of Title is issued.
Applications can be rejected. In this case, the Application form and some minor documentation is kept and other documents are returned to the applicant.
NRS 17513 Primary Application Packets are an important resource for researchers because the supporting documentation lodged with the application often remains in the packet. This can include the following:
- the survey Plan
- correspondence, including Lands Department working papers and memos
- reports from the Title Examiner's and the Survey Draftsman
- the draft Certificate of Title
- caveats against the Application by adjoining owners or others claiming an interest in the land, and
- deeds, possibly including mortgages, and other dealings with the land.
The packet may also contain other documents or copies of documents used as evidence to prove title. These may include some or all of the following:
- Statutory Declarations
- Birth, Death and Marriage certificates
- valuations, and
- subdivision plans.
The Primary Application forms are not in the Packet as they were removed for filming prior to their transfer as State archives. They are held as a separate series, see NRS 13012 below.
If the land you are researching has been the subject of a Primary Application you will need to locate the relevant Real Property Application number. This is also the number of the Primary Application.
To find this you need to know where the land you are researching is situated, who made the application or the name of a person(s) who may have owned the land at some time.
The staff from the Department of Lands at 1 Prince Albert Road, Queens Square, Sydney will be able to assist you locating the Real Property Application number using Departmental records. These records may include:
- Certificates of Title
- maps and plans
- registers of deeds, and
- the original grant registers.
It is also possible that Parish maps and Government Gazettes held by us may be of assistance in locating the Application number. Please be aware that this could involve very time-consuming research, with no guarantee of success.
Primary Application packets are available to view in our Western Sydney reading room.
To find Primary Application Packet that has been transferred to State Records follow the steps in the table below:
|1||Identify at least one of the following:
You can search for Primary Application packets that have been transferred to State Records with or without the PA number in our catalogue.
Complete the retrieval slip, listing the Primary Application packet(s) you require. Alternatively you can order the Primary Application packet before your visit by completing and submitting the preorder form on our website.
Tip: Remember you will need to provide the number of the Primary Application packet(s) when completing your request or preorder form.
View the Primary Application Packet in our reading room
Tip: You will need to have a reader's ticket to view original records.
If you cannot locate the Primary Application packet in our catalogue using Archives Investigator, visit the Department of Lands at 1 Queens Square, Sydney and consult the Departmental records to locate the Primary Application number.
Also note that the conversion of land holdings from Old System Title is an ongong process and more recent Primary Application packets may still be held at the Department of Lands.
Department of Lands
Documents relating to Primary Applications Nos 2 to 14157 (with gaps)
This series comprises supporting documents (including deeds of grant of some interest), which were culled from packets 1-14157 by the Department of Lands and have been retained as State archives. The documents are arranged according to the Primary Application number.
The Primary Application forms were removed from the Primary Application packets and filmed by the Registrar General's Office (the office which was responsible for these records), prior to their transfer as State archives. The forms are arranged according to the Primary Application number. Early applications give a full description of the land, valuation, or original grantee and date, any tenants or encumbrances, owners and occupiers of adjacent land, and details of the applicant's marriage. While the format has changed over time, all still give a description of the land and subsisting interests, for example, leases or mortgages.
Index to persons applying to buy land under the Real Property Act
These volumes record applicant's name, primary application number (Real Property number). The location of the land concerned is not recorded.
Land title primary application registers
These volumes record Primary Application number, applicant's name, residence, location of land concerned, area, valuation of property and date of various stages of applications movement through the department. There is an index in the front of the volume covering 1884-92 [5/3551]. [5/3552] covers 1898-1902 and is unindexed.
Department of Lands
GPO Box 15, Sydney NSW 2001
T: (02) 02 9228 6082 | F: (02) 9231 0065 | W: Land & Property Information | E: GeneralEnquiry@lpi.nsw.gov.au
ARCHIVES IN BRIEF
This content first appeared in Archives in Brief 108 - Primary Application Packets
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