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Decisions of the Nineteenth Century Tasmanian Superior Courts


This site was created to publish many of the hidden nineteenth century records of the superior courts of Tasmania. The site begins with the first decisions of the newly established Supreme Court of Van Diemen's Land, which first sat in 1824. We will add to the collection in batches of one historical year at a time.

The cases have been chosen by Stefan Petrow and Bruce Kercher, from the surviving newspaper and archival records of the courts. For a description of our selection and editing policies, see the Introduction.

This site matches the collection of New South Wales cases of the same period, which is online. Our aim is to encourage comparative legal history, to show the many ways in which English law was received, rejected, altered and replaced in the Australian colonies.


November 2010: we have now published Alex Castles' index to legal cases in Tasmanian newspapers.

October 2006: we have just published an important 1838 speech by Robinson, Protector of Aborigines.

As at February 2005, we have now put 1843 cases online.

April 2004: we have now published the surviving records of pre-1850 appeals from the Australian colonies to the Privy Council in London. Concentrating on the unreported decisions of the Privy Council, these records are taken from the office of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and from the National Archives in Kew, London.

We have also begun placing further cases online, from the Colonial Times. We have completed these to the middle of 1835, including corrections to the Subject Index.

FINDING CASES Subject index Case index Castles Index to Newspaper Law Reports


GOVERNMENT NOTICES CONCERNING ABORIGINES, 1830-1831. These are some of the most important documents in Tasmanian legal history, indicating the colonial government's ambivalent attitude to the conflict with the island's indigenous peoples.




This site has been permanently archived at the Pandora website of the National Library of Australia.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University and the School of History and Classics, University of Tasmania