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Original Documents on Aborigines and Law, 1797-1840

Document 6

Original Document 6

Proclamations &c Proclamation By His Excellency Lachlan Macquarie Esquire Captain General: 4 May 1816 


Whereas the Aborigines or Black Natives of this colony have for the last three years manifested a strong and dangerous sprit of animosity and hostility towards the British inhabitants residing in the interior and remote parts of the Colony and have been recently guilty of most atrocious and wanton barbarities in indiscriminately murdering Men, Women and Children from whom they had received no offence or provocation, and also in killing the cattle and Plundering and destroying the grain and property of every description, belonging to the settlers and persons residing on or near the banks of the Rivers Nepean and Hawkesbury [25] and South Creek, to the great terror loss and distress of the suffering inhabitants.

And whereas notwithstanding this the Government has heretofore acted with the utmost lenity and humanity towards these natives in forbearing to punish such wanton cruelties and depredations with their merited severity thereby hoping to reclaim them from their barbarous practices and to conciliate them to the British Government by affording them protection assistance and indulgence instead of subjecting them to the retaliation of injury which their own wanton cruelties would have fully justified yet they have persevered to the present date in committing every species of sanguinary outrage and depredation on the lives and properties of the British Inhabitants, after having been repeatedly cautioned to beware of the consequences that would result to themselves by the continuance of such destruction and barbarous courses. [26] And whereas His Excellency the Governor was lately reluctantly compelled to resort to coercive and strong measures to prevent the recurrence of such crimes and barbarities, and to bring to consign punishment such or the perpetrators of them as could be found and apprehended, and with this view sent out a Military force to drive away the hostile tribes from the British Settlements in the remote parts of the Country and to take as many of them prisoners as possible; in executing which services several Natives have been unavoidably killed and wounded in consequence of their not having surrendered themselves, on being called on so to do, amongst whom it may be considered fortunate that some of the most guilty and atrocious of the natives concerned in the last murders and robberies are numbered.   And although it is to be apprehended that some few innocent men, Women and Children may have fallen in these conflicts yet it [27] is earnestly to be hoped that this unavoidable result, and the severity which has attended it will eventually Strike terror, amongst the serviving [sic] Tribes and deter them from the further commission of such sanguinary Outrages and Barbarities.

And whereas the more effectually to prevent a Recurrence of murders, robberies and depredations by the Natives as well as to protect the lives and properties of His Majesty's subjects residing in the several settlements of this territory His Excellency the Governor deems it his indispensable duty to prescribe certain Rules[,] Orders and regulations to be observed by the Natives and rigidly enforced and carried into effect by all Magistrates and Peace Officers in the Colony of New South Wales and which are as follows.

First. That from and after the fourth day of June next enduring, that being the Birthday of his most Gracious Majesty King George the Third no Black Native or Body of Black Natives [28] shall ever appear at or within one Mile of any Town, Village, or Farm occupied or belonging to any British Subject; armed or with any warlike offensive weapon or weapons of any description, such as spears clubs or waddies, on pain of being deemed and considered in a state of aggression and Hostility; and treated accordingly.

Second   That no number of Natives exceeding in the while six persons being entirely unarmed shall veer come to lurk or loiter about any farm in the Interior on pain of being considered enemies and treated accordingly,

Third That the practice hitherto observed amongst the Native Tribes of Assembling in large bodies or parties armed, and of fighting and attacking each other on the plea of Inflicting punishment on Transgressors of their own customs and manners at or near Sydney, and the principal Towns and settlements in the Colony shall be hence forth wholly abolished as [29] a barbarous Custom repugnant to the British Laws, and strongly militating against the Civilisation of the Natives which is an object of the highest importance to effect if possible; any armed body of natives therefore who shall assemble for the foregoing purposes either at Sydney or any of the other settlements of this Colony after the said forth date of June next, shall be considered as Disturbers of the Public Peace and shall be apprehended and punished in a Summary Manner Accordingly.   The Black natives are therefore hereby enjoined and commanded to discontinue this barbarous custom not at or near the British Settlements, but also in heir own wild and remote places of resort.


That such of the natives as may wish to be considered under the Protection the British Government [30] and disposed to conduct themselves in a peaceable inoffensive manner shall be furnished with passports or certificates to that effect Signed by the Governor, on their making application for the same at the Secretary's Office at Sydney on the first Monday in every succeeding month which certificates they will find will protect them from being injured or molested by any person so long as they conduct themselves peaceably [,] inoffensively and honestly and do not carry or use offensive weapons contrary to he tenor of this Proclamation.

The Governor however having thus fulfilled an imperious and necessary Public Duty in prohibiting the Black natives from carrying or using offensive weapons at least in as far as relates to their intercourse with the British inhabitants of these settlements; considered it equally a part of his Public Duty as a counter balance [31] for the restriction of not allowing them to go about the country armed to afford the black native such means as are within his power, to enable them to obtain an honest and comfortable subsistence by their own labour and industry.   His Excellency therefore hereby proclaims and makes known to them, that he shall always be willing and ready to grant such portions of land in suitable and convenient parts of the Colony to such of them as are inclined to become regular settlers, and such occasional assistance from Government as may enable them to cultivate their Farms,


First That they and their Families shall be victualled from the Kings Stores for six months from the time of their going to reside actually on their farms.

Secondly That they shall be furnished with the necessary Agricultural tools and also with wheat Maize and potatoes   [32]   for seed, and

Thirdly To each person of a family one suit of slops and one Colonial Blanket from the Kings Stores shall be given; but these indulgencies will not be granted to any native unless it shall appear that he is really inclined and fully resolved to become a settler and permanently reside on such as may be assigned to him for the purpose of cultivating the same of the support of himself and family.

His Excellency The Governor therefore earnestly exhorts and thus publicly invites the natives to relinquish the wandering idle and Predatory habits, and to become industrious and useful member of a community where they will find protection and encouragement.   To such as do not like to cultivate Farms of their own, but would prefer working as labourers for those persons who may be disposed to employ them, there will always be found Masters among the settlers who [33] will hire them as servants, of the description.   And the Governor strongly recommends to the settlers and other persons to accept such services as may be offered by the industrious natives desirous of encouraging in their employ, and the Governor desires it to be understood that he will be happy to grant lands to the Natives in such situations as may be agreeable to themselves and according to their own particular choice, provided such lands are disposable and belong to the crown.

And whereas His Excellency the Governor from an anxious wish to civilize the Aborigines of this Country, so as to make them useful to themselves, and the Community, has established a Seminary or Institution at Parramatta for the purpose of educating the Male and Female Children of those natives who might be willing to place them in that Seminary. His Excellency therefore [34] now earnestly calls upon Natives who have Children to embrace so desirable and good an opportunity of providing for their helpless offspring and of having them brought up Clothed and fed and educated for such humane and desirable purposes and in furtherance of this measure His Excellency deems it expedient to invite a general friendly meeting of all the natives residing in the Colony, to take place at the Town of Parramatta on Saturday the 28 th of December next at 12 o'clock at noon, at the Publick [sic] Market Place there, for the purpose of more fully explaining and pointing out the objects of the Institution referred to, as well as for consulting with them, on the best manner of improving their present condition, on this occasion and as the general Meeting of the Natives, the Governor will feel happy to reward such of them as have given [35] proofs of Industry and an inclination to be civilised.

And the Governor wishing that the General Meeting or Congress of the friendly Natives should be held annually in future, directs that the 28 th day of December in every year shall be considered as fixed for this purpose excepting then that day shall happen to fall on a Sunday, when the following day is to be considered as fixed for holding the said Congress

And finally His Excellency the Governor hereby orders and directs that on occasions of any Natives coming armed, or in a hostile manner without arms or in unarmed partied exceeding six in number to any farm belonging to or occupied by British subjects in the interior such Natives are first to be desired in a Civil manner to depart from the said Farm and if they persist in remaining thereon or attempt to plunder Rob or commit any [36]   kind of depredations they are then to be driven away, by force of arms by the settlers themselves, and in case they are not able to do so, they are o apply o a Magistrate fro aid from the nearest Military station & the troops stationed there are hereby commanded to render their assistance when so required.   The Troops are also to afford aid at the Towns of Sydney, Parramatta and Windsor respectively when called on by the Magistrates or other place Officers at those stations.

Given under my hand at Government House

Sydney the 4th day of May 1816

God Save the King

Lachlan Macquarie

By Command of His Excellency,

John Thomas Campbell



4th May 1816

Proclamation against the natives

No 6.

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