PART 1 of this Record Group contains the various series of departmental correspondence and their attendant registers, indexes and transmission registers. This is the largest, and for general research purposes, the most important, Part of the Group, and the original method of sub-division has been preserved. In general, the scheme was to use the term of office of the Lieutenant-Governor as the registration period for the correspondence; but the following outline of the correspondence series in this Part indicates the departures that were made from this rule, which was more closely adhered to in the succeeding series of the Chief Secretary's Department Record Group.
The correspondence records often called the "Arthur files" (CSO1) are broadly co-extensive with Lieutenant-Governor Arthur's term, 1824-36, and those of his successor, Sir John Franklin (1837-43) (CSO5) follow a similar pattern until 1841, when the single series system was replaced by one divided into three "branches". Of these, the "Civil Branch" is itself divided into two parts (CSO8 and CSO11), each separately registered, running from 1841-45 and 1845-47 respectively; the "Record Branch" (CSO16) runs from 1841-45, but is in many respects continued by the "A" series (CSO20), 1845-47; and the "Legal Branch" also runs from 1841-47. Thus this body of records, sub-divided according to the practices described more fully under each series, comprehends the second part of Franklin's term and all of his successor's, Sir J.E. Eardley-Wilmot (1843-46). With the succession of Sir William Denison (1847-55), the correspondence records reverted to one single registration series (CSO24).
All series of correspondence files are bound into more or less uniform half-leather volumes, suitably labelled, and the point where each file begins is indicated by a slip bearing its number.
In all series, a simple single-number system of registration was used, one series of numbers covering the whole period in question. Except in the case of the Arthur period files (CSO1), and those of the years 1837-41 of the Franklin period (CSO5), when the files are bound consecutively, it is necessary to use the registers in conjunction with the indexes in order to locate the volume in which any particular file is bound. This is because the files, though in numerical order within the volume, do not run consecutively, and the indexes refer only to files, not volumes.
The registers are also useful records in their own right, apart from their function as a finding aid. Each entry gives a brief summary of the contents of the file to which it relates, document by document, so that in some cases it may prove unnecessary to refer to the file itself, and in others, where the file is missing, this summary represents the only record of its contents.
Each correspondence series, except the "A" series (CSO20) and the "Legal Branch" (CSO22), has its own index. The system of alphabeting and the degree of thoroughness used in indexing vary from series to series, and a certain amount of patience and imagination must be used before the student may be reasonably satisfied that he has found all references to any particular subject.
These indexes, however, form the most convenient means of access to the correspondence and have the considerable merit of impartiality as to subject coverage, having been compiled with no other purpose than as a contemporary instrument for the management of the files. An alternative to the use of the indexes in research is for the student to work through the registers entry by entry; though not impracticable for any one series, this method is of course tedious and time-consuming, but it has the advantage of undoubted thoroughness.
Also running as a companion to each series of correspondence are the transmission registers. These are a daily record kept by the clerk responsible for the delivery of papers, and they indicate (with variations) the file number, a summary of the communication and its date, from whom and to whom it was referred. The main purpose of these volumes in research is to trace the whereabouts of a file missing from its appointed place, and in certain cases to ascertain the content of a particular document which cannot otherwise be traced.
Finally to be noted in this Part of the Record Group are certain series of miscellaneous correspondence records which, for one reason or another, cannot be taken as part of the principal series to which they are, in greater or lesser degree, related. They are sufficiently described in the appropriate places (CSO14, CSO15, CSO19).
This correspondence is chiefly of the period of the first Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land after it became an independent colony, Col. George Arthur; but many of the papers of his predecessor, Col. William Sorell, who had no Colonial Secretary, have been incorporated (i.e., registered) in the series, and many files date from at least as early as 1821, and sometimes earlier.
The files are almost exclusively of inward correspondence and internal memoranda, the substance of outgoing correspondence often being recorded on the reverse of the inward letter in either the Lieutenant-Governor's or the Colonial Secretary's hand; outward correspondence is also obtainable in the records described in Part 2.
Registration is by a simple single-number system, the one series of numbers (1-19184) running from the beginning of the period to the end. With few exceptions the files have been sewn (more or less contemporaneously) into volumes of from one to two inches thick, in numerical order. Each volume holds an average of about sixteen files, but some files were allowed to grow inordinately large without sub-division, so that reference to a subject such as "aborigines", for example, becomes difficult, for this particular file under this general subject heading fills seventeen large volumes. But this is exceptional, and the reverse is more often the case: thus, for example, there may be six or more files indexed under the name of one person, documenting the different transactions of which that person formed the subject.
There are many gaps in the numerical registration series (about thirty-seven per cent), and sometimes in such a case a slip is pasted in the appropriate place in the volume indicating the department to which the file was sent; thus it may be possible to find such a missing document by reference to the records of that department. Failing that, it is often possible to discover the substance of the correspondence from the register (CSO2). Besides the foregoing explanation for "missing" files, there is the circumstance that the system of making one numerical series of registration numbers serve for twelve years often made it necessary for old files to be subsumed under new numbers, or for new correspondence to be incorporated in old files; in either case the number first used would be left vacant, falsely suggesting a gap in the series. The percentage of "missing" files mentioned above should be regarded in the light of this factor. Apart from those files which were not present when they were bound, the series is remarkably complete.
The series as a whole reflects strongly the personal influence of the Lieutenant-Governor whose period it covers. Arthur's passion for preserving written evidence of the smallest detail of his administration is evident in almost every file, not to say letter, and the presumption is strong that the general system of record making, binding and preservation was a result of his tremendous personal exertion (see General Introduction).
In these volumes inward correspondence was registered as it was received; the registration clerk would ascertain the subject of the letter, use the index (CSO3) to discover whether a file already existed on the subject and, if so, what was its number, either find that number in the register or start a new file, and enter in the register the details of the letter. The details given are: file number, sub-number of document, its date, a short summary of its contents, and an indication of its subsequent transmission. The registration numbers were so spaced on the page as to provide for the expansion of the file, but continuations out of order are frequent. Outward correspondence was not registered except in those cases where the Colonial Secretary initiated the transaction. The volumes containing registration numbers 3361-9541 and 11395-14032, the greater part of the series, are missing.
This series contains two separate indexes (CSO2/1, CSO2/2 and CSO3/3). The first is the index used currently by the Colonial Secretary's clerks; the great majority of its entries are personal names, usually the writer of the inward letter, and it is apparent that it was compiled from the registers, and probably as much to gain reference to that series as to the correspondence itself. Subject entries are relatively rare, but they do exist for subjects of constant recurrence: e.g., convicts, aborigines; and also for those entries in the register for which no writer is mentioned. The name of an official and/or of his office is also a favourite heading. Each entry is followed by a sub-entry explanatory of the nature of the file: this is particularly valuable in referring to a large subject to which many references are given. An example is:
|669||Requesting a Stone Mason|
|2182||For a Town allotment|
|9186||To be appointed P.M. New Norfolk|
|13374||Bridge across the Derwent|
This is not to say, however, that all entries under a given heading will necessarily occur together.
This index is not perfectly alphabetically arranged, but a compromise with the common Nineteenth Century practice of using the initial only has been made: the entries are arranged by the initial plus the first vowel. Thus "Brown" is to be found anywhere within the pages allotted to B o, together with such names as Blore or Bott.
The second index was compiled somewhat later than that just described; it appears to have been based more upon the correspondence itself than upon the registers. It is altogether neater than the other index, the alphabeting tends to be more perfect, and the sub-entries tend to be more explicit and accurate. Each index, however, contains entries not included in the other, so that in the interests of thoroughness both must be consulted.
Having obtained a file number from either of these indexes, it is possible to proceed straight to Series CSO1, each volume of which is labelled with the covering numbers of the files it contains.
This index refers to the correspondence of the period of Lieutenant-Colonel Kenneth Snodgrass, who administered the government after the departure of Arthur from 31 October 1836 until 19 January 1837; that correspondence is incorporated in Series CSO1, and since the entries in this index do not occur in either Series CSO2 or CSO3, this index too must be used for reference to the correspondence of Snodgrass's period. The system of alphabeting is the same as in Series CSO2.
This correspondence is of the first part of Sir John Franklin's administration, and differs in few important respects from Series CSO1. Some files that originated in the period covered by that series are included in this, and access to them is to be gained by means of the indexes to the former (CSO3 and CSO4). Each volume in this series, the binding of which is of poorer quality, contains an average of about seventeen files, and about thirty-four per cent of the total number are "missing"; but the remarks on this subject under Series CSO1 apply also in this case.
The registration system remains unaltered, there being one numerical series (1-7779) for the whole period. As in CSO1, inward correspondence and internal memoranda form the great bulk of the series, although copies of outward letters begin to make their appearance; but the Lieutenant-Governor's and the Colonial Secretary's endorsements must still be relied upon for the substance of the reply. No volumes are known to be missing.
In general, the description given of Series CSO2 applies to this series, the only important difference being that in these volumes, outward letters are registered by sub-number, and thus a more complete summary of the transactions on any given subject is presented. Another difference is that, when a file is subsumed under a new number, that fact is indicated, and so it is possible to trace a "missing" file more easily. The indication of subsequent transmission of an in-letter disappears. The series is complete.
There is no essential difference between this series and Series CSO3, described above. As in the former case, it is possible to proceed directly from a file reference in this index to the volumes of CSO5 themselves.
In July 1841 the registration system of the Colonial Secretary's correspondence records was divided into three parts, known as "Civil Branch", "Record Branch" (CSO16), and "Legal Branch" (CSO22). The reasons for this division are obscure, but it is likely that the three "branches" corresponded to an internal distribution of the registry among three offices, or three clerks, in order to facilitate the work of the Office by allocating work on a functional basis. However the subject distinctions are not clearly defined, and it is possible to indicate only broadly what kind of matters are likely to have been dealt with by each "branch".
The "Civil Branch" correspondence tends to be concerned with those matters previously dealt with in the general series (CSO1 and CSO5), with the exception of convict administration and the relations of Van Diemen's Land with the other colonies. No hard and fast rule can be stated, however, and it is not difficult to conclude that the division of labour on a subject basis (if that were reason for the creation of the "branches") broke down in practice. An undated schedule apparently drawn up when this division was planned gives some idea of what the functions of the "Civil Branch" were intended to be:
|Aborigines, Aide de Camp, Caveat Board, Comm[issaria]t as regards Treasury, Clerical, Comptroller [General of Convicts] as regards Roads, Customs, Councils [Executive and Legislative], Education Board, Miscellaneous, Orphan Schools, Post Master General, Queen's Orphan School, Registrar-General, Roads, Survey, Treasurer &c, Van Diemen's Land Co. 44|
Analysis of subjects dealt with in the correspondence largely confirms this departmental allocation, but the "Civil Branch" was not confined to this area of administration, nor can one be sure that any of the subjects dealt with by this "branch" will not also be found in either or both of the other two.
With the introduction of this triple division in the registry, the old system of binding the files in strict numerical order was abandoned; though they were still kept in relative order (i.e., higher numbers after low), any volume may contain files numbered from the whole range of the registration series (1-3225). Hence it is necessary, after having found the number of a file from the index (CSO10), to use the register (CSO9) in order to find the volume in which the file is bound. Copies of outward letters begin to be fairly consistently included with this series. One volume is known to be missing.
The descriptions of Series CSO2 and CSO6 apply in general to this series; differences in the details given are that sub-numbering of individual documents is now abandoned, that dates of both receipt and despatch are given, and that out-letters are always registered. The summaries of the contents of correspondence are in general adequate, and the number of the volume in which the file is to be found is quoted; this is an essential piece of information for the location of a file (see under CSO8 above and CSO10 below).
With this index there appears for the first time a tendency for the compilers to realise the importance of the subject entry and the cross-reference. The sub-entries also show a tendency to be much fuller and more informative than in previous indexes (CSO3, CSO4 or CSO7). But as this index occupies only one volume, much of this sophistication has been at the expense of alphabetical order; the exigencies of space have, in effect, forced the compilers to be no more perfect than the initial.
The general subject areas allocated to the "Civil Branch" (see under CSO8) are reflected in the main general subject headings:
Aborigines; Attorney-General; Auditor; Caveat Commission; Chief Police Magistrate; Clerical [i.e., Ecclesiastical]; Commandant, Launceston; Commissariat; Comptroller-General; Crown Solicitor; Customs; Director-General of Roads; Education; Grants; Immigration; Internal Revenue; Land; Orphan Schools; Police; Port Officer; Post Office; Printing Establishment; Private Secretary; Public Works; Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages; Roads; Survey Department; Tenders; Treasurer.
Entries under such general headings as these are likely to be repeated in one or more cross references under the individual(s) concerned.
Notwithstanding the remarks under CSO8 as to the need to use the register (CSO9) to locate any file to which a reference is found in the index, up to the letter P the appropriate volume numbers have been entered against many of the file numbers, and to this extent reference to the register is unnecessary; but in all other cases the register must be used in conjunction with this index.
Though this series of correspondence was bound into volumes bearing numbers from the same series as CSO8, it was controlled by a new series of registration numbers (1-990) and a new index was compiled for it (CSO13). The period covered runs from the latter part of Eardley-Wilmot's administration to approximately the end of that of C.J. La Trobe (Administrator).
An analysis of subject matter reveals that much the same kind of functions were dealt with by the office having control of this series as was the case with CSO8; but once again the distinction between this and the companion series (CSO20) is not clearly defined, and it can be said only that there is a tendency for certain subjects to be dealt with in this correspondence rather than in the latter. Such subjects are: Aborigines; Ecclesiastical; Education; Estimates; Land; Legislative Council; Port matters; Public Service matters. Copies of outward letters are present. No volumes are known to be missing.
The remarks under CSO9 apply equally to this register.
This index is comparable with CSO10, the main difference being that it is a large volume, the entries are sparse, and the alphabeting is consequently more perfect. The first two letters of the subject determine the place of entry, e.g., space was allotted to Ba, Bi, Bl, Br etc. There are, however, many anomalies in the application of this system and it is unwise to rely on it. Subject entries and cross-references are both used extensively. The register (CSO12) must be consulted in conjunction with this index to locate files.
The reason for these papers not having been registered is not clear, but they were apparently the residue of the series remaining after the registered files of CSO8 were bound. They have been classified here rather than in Part 3 to preserve their relationship with CSO8, of which they were originally considered part.
Neither the fact that they are extremely miscellaneous nor that they are unregistered should be taken as an indication of the relative importance of these papers: some of the documents could be of great value to various kinds of research. For example, there are papers concerning the creation of the Office of Inspector of Convict Discipline; Report of a Finance Committee of November 1843; Law Officers' opinions regarding what circumstances constitute a vacancy in the Lieutenant-Governor's Office; returns of various categories of population; proposals regarding the control of dogs, and of the
illicit distillation of spirits; private settlers' suggestions for improvements in the administration; draft estimates and bills; communications between the Colonial Secretary and the Lieutenant-Governor; petitions; and semi-private letters to the Colonial Secretary. No contemporary index or other finding-aid exists but the two volumes have been indexed by Archives Office staff.
In most cases these drafts bear registration numbers from CSO8. The fact that in any transaction it was necessary for a letter to go through one or more drafts is an indication that that subject was considered of greater than average significance; this series is therefore of considerable importance because, although in most cases the final version of an outward letter is incorporated in the files of CSO8, these drafts (by the many corrections and alterations in the Colonial Secretary's hand) show the process whereby the final decision was reached; moreover, in those cases where a draft was finally abandoned, or for some reason there is no copy in the regular files, the document to be found here is the only copy extant.
This correspondence differs chiefly from its companion series (CSO8 and CSO22) in that a great proportion of its content is concerned with the detail of convict administration, and that it was apparently to this "branch" of the Colonial Secretary's registry that all correspondence to or from the other colonies was referred. Except for this general tendency, however, the same qualifications as to differentiation of subject matter among the three "branches" that were indicated under CSO8 must also be applied to this series. Copies of outward letters are included, and each item within the file is sub-numbered. The registration series is 1-751. Five volumes are known to be missing.
The remarks under CSO9 apply equally to this register, except that here the items within the file are sub-numbered.
This index is compiled along similar lines to CSO10 and CSO13, and the same remarks as to arrangement and information given which appears under those series apply here. The alphabeting is by the first two letters.
An analysis of the principal general headings gives an idea of the subject area covered by CSO16:
Bushrangers; Ceylon; Colonial Agent; Convict Ships; Convicts; Emigration; Estimates; Fuel (Government Offices); Government Printer; India; Lands; New South Wales; New Zealand; Newspapers; Norfolk Island; Offices (furniture, rent, etc.); Pardons; Port Phillip; Returns; Sheriff; South Australia; Stationery; Sydney: Western Australia.
The volume number in which a file is to be found not being entered, the register (CSO18) must be used to locate it.
Notes on the fly-leaves of these volumes indicate that the contents were received in the Colonial Secretary's Office from Government House in 1843 and August - October 1848; they were apparently an accumulation of papers which had either been sent direct to the Private Secretary or the Lieutenant-Governor, or referred to Government House by the Colonial Secretary in the normal course of business and for one reason or another not returned; some are registered in various series.
The papers are not bound in chronological order; the subjects covered are completely miscellaneous, but often of quite an important nature. For example, there are letters from high officials (Chief Justice, Attorney-General, the Bishop) who claimed the right to correspond with the Lieutenant-Governor direct; there are also reports of boards of enquiry set up by the Lieutenant-Governor. Many letters are of a semi-private nature (both to the Lieutenant-Governor and the Colonial Secretary), and memorials from individuals are probably the biggest single class of documents present.
This is a companion series to CSO11, and the same general remarks as to subject coverage given under that series apply equally to this. Certain areas of administration are, however, more fully documented here than in CSO11. The day-to-day administration of the convict system (insofar as the Colonial Secretary was responsible for it) is inherited from the "Record Branch" (CSO16), as also is the function of inter-colonial relations. No index for this series has been found. Copies of outward letters are bound. The registration series is 1-1284, and no volumes are know to be missing. A card index to this series has been compiled.
A similar register to CSO9.
Although it can be said that the administration of the convict system, on a somewhat more important level than that to be found in CSO16 and CSO20, accounts for the greatest number of files in this series, again no firm line of distinction can be drawn to divide the subject areas here documented from those of the concurrent or partly concurrent series (CSO8, CSO11, CSO16 and CSO20). Other important functions referred to this "branch" of the registry were: public service administration; military matters, administration of police and gaols; judges' reports on cases tried; public works. No index has been found for this correspondence, which is registered in a series running from 1 to 3060. Copies of outward letters are included. One volume is known to be missing. A card index to this series has been compiled.
A similar register to CSO9.
At about the time of the beginning of the administration of Sir William Denison (1847) the Colonial Secretary carried out a reorganisation of his Office (see General Introduction) and the division of the registry into three parts was abandoned (see under CSO8). A new single series of registration numbers (1-10914) was introduced, and the step constituted a reversion to the system which had been found effective during the terms of Arthur and Franklin up to 1841 (see under CSO1 and CSO5). Thus we may assume that the "Branch" system, which has certainly proved confusing in the use of the records as archives, had been found wanting in its administrative effectiveness.
Since all the functions discharged by the Colonial Secretary are from this period again documented in a single series of correspondence, reference is considerably simplified; the only difference between the arrangement of these files and those of CSO1 and CSO5 is that they are not bound consecutively; therefore, as in the case of all series of the "Branch" system, reference to the registers (CSO25) is necessary in order to locate any file referred to in the index (CSO26). No volumes of this series are known to be missing, though about thirty per cent of the files are not present under the allotted registration number. Copies of outward letters are included.
The registration of correspondence in this period was thorough, though sub-numbering of individual documents was abandoned. The same details are given as in the most complete of the previous registers (e.g. CSO9), and the summaries of the contents of the individual documents, though brief, are adequate.
This index contains a far higher proportion of entries to the number of files in the series than, for example, CSO3 or CSO7; and, though not so neatly arranged as some, it is probably a more thorough index than any so far considered. The alphabeting is by the first two letters, subject entries and cross-references are frequent, and the principle of the standing entry is more developed. An analysis of some of the latter gives an idea of the range of subjects covered:
Auditor, Banks, Births &c., Registrar of: Bishop; Boards; Brigade Major; Caveat Board; Clerk of the Peace; Colonial Agent; Commissariat; Convict Department; Council, Legislative; Councils, Clerk of; Customs; Despatches; Education Board; Engineer; Estimates; Government House; Government Printer; Hospitals; Immigrants; Internal Revenue; Judges; Juries; Land; Law Officers; Lieutenant-Governor; Mayors; Medical; Observatory; Ordnance Officers; Orphan Schools; Police; Port Officer, Post Master General; Proclamations; Public Offices; Public Works; Quarter Sessions; Roads; Sheriff; Surveyor-General; Supreme Court; Town Surveyor; Treasurer; Water Works.
The names of towns, other colonies, religious denominations and administrative functions are also used as general headings for multiple entries, and personal names and individual subjects are not neglected.
This is a daily record kept by the Colonial Secretary showing the writer of the communication, its date, and a short summary of its contents. A tick in the first column indicates that the entry was indexed in CSO28; this applies only up to 27 February 1833.
This volume indexes pp. 1-74 of CSO27. Sub-entries are given under a frequently recurring heading, but otherwise the entries are simply by the name of the writer.
The details given are: name of writer of communication, subject, date sent to Government House.
This is the first series of the main group of transmission registers in which the movement of papers from the Colonial Secretary's Office among the various branches of the colonial administration was controlled, and it corresponds with the latter part of CSO1 and with CSO5; in other words, with all correspondence from August 1834 up to the time that the registry was divided into three "branches" (see under CSO8). The arrangement of the information given is tabular, with columns for: file registration number; sub-number; date of communication; from whom or whence; subject; and to whom referred. The pages were ruled off daily, and the return of the papers is indicated by a vertical cancellation of the entry.45 These registers can be of considerable help in tracing the whereabouts of a particular file.
The first of these volumes corresponds to CSO8 and the second to CSO11. In each case the same general remarks as for CSO30 apply, with the difference that CSO31/1 has its own index to subjects, and that CSO31/2 has its own numerical register of file numbers, indicating on what page mention of a file occurs. No volumes have been found to cover the period March 1842 to August 1845.
This register corresponds to CSO16 and CSO20; the overlap into and beyond the period of Denison's administration (1847-55) is explained by the fact that papers belonging to CSO20 were still in circulation among the departments up to that time. The volume is divided into two parts, one for each series, the dividing line being 8 August 1845. Each part has its own numerical register of file numbers, and in other respects the register presents similar information to those previously described (see under CSO30, CSO31, CSO32).
This series of registers was commenced when the old system of registration was reintroduced in 1847 (see under CSO24). They correspond to the records of that series. There is no difference in format or function from previous registers (see under CSO30, CSO31, CSO32, CSO33); the pagination is continuous throughout the six volumes, each of which carries its own numerical register of file numbers, except the last, which is so indexed in CSO34/5.