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Original Documents on Aborigines and Law, 1797-1840

Document 54

Original Document 54 

Regulation proposed by Mr Londale for the formation of an aboriginal Police Corps

[298] 'Copy'

'Regulations Proposed for the formation of an Aboriginal Police Corps.'


                                                                                                25th October 1837 [1]

In forming a body of Aboriginal Blacks, under European Superintendents it is wished to combine the desirable objects of making them useful to society of gradually weaning them from their native habits and prejudices, of habituating them to civilised customs, and from thence if possible to place them upon higher grades of temporal and religious knowledge. It would be impossible to accomplish these objects by any abrupt means or sudden change from their present condition and it is therefore thought the most effectual method will be to form some of the Natives into a Police Corps, as in that situation they will not be tied to any definite labour or irksome routine of employment, they will it is hoped, whilst they are enjoying a change of scene and occupation, and the occasional recreation of hunting, be under proper management imperceptably to themselves, acquiring the change which is desired. Some definite number of natives shall be with the view [299] and placed under the immediate guidance of ---- [2] who will receive all instructions from the Police Magistrate at Melbourne , and to whom he will make stated periodical reports, and also immediate report of any unusual occurrence. The men shall be selected from one tribe and a position shall be chosen in their own country to be approved of by themselves, but which must not exceed a days walk from the Town, this place shall be their headquarters where they will be instructed to build themselves comfortable huts having in the first instance, the assistance of some European workmen - each man with a family shall have a separate hut, and the single men shall be together in one hut, none but those men who belong to the Corps, with their wives and children shall be allowed to inhabit this station, but merely be permitted to make occasional visits. When they are established in their village they may employ some of their time in making gardens or other improvements, but nothing in the shape of labour is to be forced upon them, and only encouraged [300] to it by convincing them of the advantage that will arise to themselves. When not required for any Police Duty, the main body of the Corps will remain at the station, where they will be away from any improper interference, or from contracting habits of intemperance.

Two of the men will be always with the Police Magistrate, they shall have a hut close to his residence, and attend upon him to execute any duty he may require of them. They will be changed in rotation once every month, or oftener if found necessary. When the services of the corps are required by the Police Magistrate he will communicate with the ---- by means of one of the two orderlies, the Corps must therefore never be far away from the station and there must always be a a sufficient number left to take charge of it, and also to direct where the others are to be found if required.

The services of the corps may in a short time be made available in many useful ways, in preserving the peace and good order of the district, in apprehending runaways, and preventing the Aborigines committing [301] any depradations on the white population, or if such should be the case in discovering in apprehending the offenders. The --- must teach them how they are to conduct themselves on these occasions by previous training, and when upon actual duty to encourage them to emulate each other in activity and intelligence, they will occasionally be sent to perambulate the district to gain information on any points that may be required, to preserve the peace and check irregularities.

The man forming the Corps, must by judicious means be taught, to give up their native habits, they should be led to believe that belonging to the Police, places them in a very superior situation and that all the barbarous practices of their country, are unworthy of their participating in, it will probably be some time before their habits are entirely given up, but the attempt must be made gradually, the most likely means is perhaps to keep the men of the Corps quite distinct from all others, one of [302] the first customs which should be attempted to be broken through is that of   joining in the quarrels by one tribe against another. It is of course not intended they should discontinue those customs which are useful as that of tracing foorsteps etc etc. In order to make up for the loss of their native occupations, they must be taught others when not otherwise employed, as well as for recreation as to prevent their having much idle time, which might induce them to return to those habits we wish to break up, and it should be endeavoured to select such amusements as may, whilst they please, be turned to use as shooting at a mark, riding, performing some military exercise, they may also under the control of the --- be allowed to hunt or fish. At the same time that the men of this Corps are taught to consider themselves superior to the other blacks, they must be made to discriminate between the different classes of white people showing respect to the upper and well-conducted, and prevented associating with those [303] who may instruct them in vicious and disorderly habits. Rations will be issued them daily according to the annexed scale and care must be taken by the --- that this is done with the greatest exactness, he will keep a book for the purpose of entering the quantity issued each day, with the names of the men receiving them, a requisition will be made out every fortnight for the rations which will be brought to the Police Magistrate for his approval.

The --- will keep a journal in which he will note all transactions relating to the Corps, and also any particular recurrences that may come under his notice, in the district generally. A copy of the journal is to be sent to the Police Magistrate at the end of each month. A man is to be appointed in rotation as cook, who is to be instructed to prepare the rations according to the European mode, the men must sit down to their meals with regularity they will have all necessary utensils which they must always use and be made to take care of. Their [304] huts must always be responsible they must also at all times be cleanly in their persons.  

A uniform dress will be appointed for the Corps, and if the men can be made to feel a pride in it, it will not only cause them to take care of it, but also be another instrument to attach them to the service. Should any of there men get sick they must at once be sent to the Police Magistrate who will have them placed in the hut near his house, and will acquaint the Colonial Surgeon, that he may attend them.

If any of these men afterstance should become settled and attached to European habits, they may be removed to the missionary station where they will be instructed in the higher duties and acquire means of civilised life.

                                                                        Signed   W Lonsdale

                                                                        Police Magistrate.

[305] Regulations proposed for the formation of an Aboriginal Police Corps

By W. Lonsdale

Police Magistrate


25 Oct 1837

No 54


[1] Notes in margin at left hand top of page 298 read: " From Col Snodgrass 26th March 1837 who says that this measure was frustrated by means of some misunderstanding with the Missionary".

We would like to thank volunteer Ron Hulme for his meticulous transcription and presentation of the above document.

[2] Blank space in manuscript.

Published by the Centre for Comparative Law History and Governance of Macquarie University, and State Records NSW