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Minutes and Memoranda

The system of minutes and memoranda was instituted by Governor Darling to convey official instructions to the Colonial Secretary. Minutes were in the Governor's own hand; while memoranda were written in another hand, not the Governor's.

With the governorship of Sir George Gipps (1838) minutes ceased to be written out in full. Increasingly the Governor conveyed his instructions by notation on the in-letters referred to him for decision. From 1838 the minutes from the Governor to the Colonial Secretary consist chiefly of summaries from the Minutes of the Executive Council conveying its decisions noted with the Governor's approval, originals or copies of despatches from the Secretary of State for the information or action of the Colonial Secretary, relevant letters from the Colonial Agent (later Agent General) in London, and letters passed on from other officers in London eg. Emigration Commissioners. These papers are occasionally included before 1838 but more often the Governor sent separate instructions.

About May 1855 two new forms of minute registration were introduced, taking the form M (running number)/A and M (running number)/B. Unfortunately the registers of the M/A minutes have not survived and the difference between those registered in this way and the ordinary minutes is not always clear.

The minutes registered in the first form (eg. M66/A) consist chiefly of instructions to the Colonial Secretary and other public officers from the Governor (frequently relating to the gazetting of appointments), and occasionally instructions drafted by the Colonial Secretary and approved by the Governor. This form of registration was only used for two years, ceasing late in 1856. These minutes were filed separately.

The second system (eg. M107/B) registered despatches from the Secretary of State transmitted by the Governor to the Colonial Secretary for his information or action and sent on to the relevant minister. Despatches so registered occur until 1912 being kept in a separate bundle for each year. A register of these despatches has survived for the period 1890-1912 [4/8263].

Notes on Registers:

'Adverting to Your remark this morning on the necessity of recording all the Governor's Minutes (and Memoranda) and the proprietary of preserving them from being soiled &c. — and coupling these considerations with the delay which may be sometimes occasioned by the non-entry of any Minute which it may be expedient to keep back, and the difficulty of referring to a book, if more than one reference is required at the same time, would it not be better to adopt the following course, as likely to secure all the intended advantages (and some others) with the least labour, viz:

1. To open a Register, similar to the letter Register, in which should be entered every Minute and Memorandum immediately upon its being given out to be acted on.
2. As soon as entered to cause a Copy to be made for office use.
3. That Copy, when acted on, to remain with Mr Nye, the same as common letters — the original being locked up until the end of the year, and then bound.'

- Office memo dated 21 July 1829 (located in front of [4/1074])

Hence two registers, [4/1073] and [4/6666B.1], were written up recording the minutes and memoranda on hand on 22 July 1829. The minutes were assigned annual single numbers but the memoranda were left unnumbered. These registers were not indexed.

It was later decided to use a single number system and the two early registers were recopied into a third register [4/1074] and both the minutes and memoranda January 1826 to June 1829 were assigned numbers in one sequence — the minutes Nos. 1-475 and the memoranda Nos. 476-1006. From July 1829 they are registered together in one sequence. The minute registers continue until 1927. These registers are indexed and the annual single numbers assigned to the minutes are also noted until 1831.

The Minutes and Memoranda are closely related to the Colonial Secretary's in-letters, there being frequent cross-referencing in the registers of each. Some minutes for 1826-69 were connected to registered in-letters and put away with them. The others are filed together in registered minute number order. From 1870 there are separate annual bundles of minutes with the main series of in-letters (also listed here). After 1915 the minutes were connected to correspondence and not put away separately.


1. Register of Governor's Memoranda received, 2 Jan 1826 - 22 Jul 1829, NRS 911 ([4/6666B.1]; microfilm copy SR Reel 2725)

2. Register of Governor's Minutes received, 13 Jan 1826 - 22 Jul 1829, NRS 912 ([4/1073]; microfilm copy SR Reel 2725)

3. Registers of Minutes and Memoranda received, 1826-1927, NRS 910

There are indexes in the front of each volume. In the first volume, [4/1074], the index for 1826-34 is in the front of the volume, and the index for 1835-36 is on pages 276-306.

ReelItemDatesIncl. Registration Nos
2725 [4/1074] 1826-36 1 - 3846
2725 [4/1075] 1837-41 3847 - 5694
2726 [4/1076] 1842 - Sep 1848 5695 - 7834
2726 [4/1077] Oct 1848 - 1850 7835 - 9671
2726 [4/1078] 1851 - Jun 1855 9672 - 12989
2726 [4/1079] Jul 1855 - Oct 1862 12990 - 15480
2727 [4/1080] Nov 1862 - Jun 1881 15481 - 18254
2727 [4/6987] Jul 1881 - 1900 18255 - 20709
2727 [4/6988] 1901 - 17 Aug 1927 20710 - 21807

4. Register of Despatches forwarded by the Governor to the Colonial Secretary for action (M/B registrations), 1890-1912, NRS 932 [4/8263]

This volume records despatches from the Secretary of State to the Governor which were forwarded to the Colonial Secretary for his information or for subsequent action (e.g., gazettal notification, transfer to the relevant Department, etc.). The register records: number, date received, date of despatch, subject and how disposed of. The despatches themselves are located with the Letters Received in separate bundles labelled 'Despatches' and numbered M (running number)/B.

There is a Skeleton Register in State Records, arranged by despatch number, which will assist in finding individual despatches