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Original Documents on Aborigines and Law, 1797-1840

Document 73

Original Document 73

Proclamation of the Governor for protection of the Aborigines




          His Excellency the Governor having been directed in a despatch recently from the   Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, to cause an enquiry to be instituted in every case where any of the aboriginal inhabitants of this Country may have came to a violent death, in consequence of any collision with white men. His Excellency with the advice of the Executive Council deems it proper in notifying the same [495] to the colonists to urge upon them consideration in the most earnest manner the solemn nature of the obligations by which we are bound as men and Christians toward that race, and to invoke their co-operation in the fulfilment of the duties which those obligations involve.

            As human beings partaking of the common nature but less enlightened than ourselves, as the original possessors of the soil from which the wealth of the colony has been principally derived, and as subjects of the Queen whose Sovereignty extends over every part [496] of New Holland, the natives of the whole territory have an acknowledged right to the protection of the Government and the sympathy and kindness of every separate individual. In disputes among themselves, they may be governed by their own ancient usages, wherever these do not interfere with the rights or safety of their more civilised fellow subjects. In disputes between aborigines and whites, both parties are equally entitled to demand the protection and assistance of the Law of England. To allow either to injure or oppress the other, and still more to permit the stronger to regard the weaker [497] party as aliens, with whom a man can exist, and against whom they may exercise Belligerent Rights, is not less inconsistent with the spirit of the law, than it is at variance with the dictates of justice and harmony.

            In accordance with these prinpiples and in obedience to the instructions of Her Majesty's Government where mentioned, His Excellency is pleased to direct that on every occasion of a violent death occurring among the aborigines of this territory, wherein any white man may be concerned, or supposed [498] to be concerned, an inquest or enquiry shall be held by the nearest coroner or magistrate as the case may be, in exactly the same manner as inquisition or inquiries are held in the located parts of the country when the deceased are Europeans or white men.

            In order also to carry Her Majesty's gracious intentions into more complete effect by affording more certain security to the great body of the aboriginal inhabitants residing beyond the present limits of locations, His Excellency is further pleased to direct that officers shall be appointed [499] for their special protection, who shall be designated "Protectors of Aborigines" and that for the present the Commissioners of Crown Lands beyond the Boundaries shall act as such Protectors.

            The duties of these Officers, will be, on the one hand, to cultivate at all times an amicable intercourse with the natives, to assist them in procuring redress for any wrong to which they may have been subjected, and particularly to prevent any interference on the part of white men, with their women.

            On the other hand they will make known [500] to the natives the penalties to which they will become liable by any act of aggression upon the persons or property of the colonists. They will endeavour to induce the chiefs in their respective districts, to make themselves responsible for the good conduct of their tribes. They will use every means in their power to acquire such personal acquaintances with individuals, and influence over them as may ensure either the prevention of aggressions or the immediate surrender of the guilty parties. And in the latter case they will forthwith take the steps that may appear to them [501] necessary.

            To facilitate these objects the Protectors will be furnished with the means of making occasions[?] presents of articles either of use or of ornament, and will receive further instructions in detail for their guidance.


of the Governor for

the protection of

the Aborigines


No. 73


[1] We would like to thank volunteer Ron Hulme for his meticulous transcription and presentation of this document.

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