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Agency VA 472
Police Magistrate Port Phillip District
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Date Range: 1836 - 1839
 
Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency
Appointment of Police Magistrate

On 9 August 1836 Sir Richard Bourke, Governor of New South Wales, issued a proclamation authorising settlement of Port Phillip. Captain William Lonsdale was appointed Police Magistrate of the District on 14 September 1836 (New South Wales Government Gazette). He proceeded to Melbourne in HMS Rattlesnake, arriving on 27 September 1836. He was accompanied by the first customs and surveying officers aboard the Stirlingshire.

Duties of Police Magistrate

Lonsdale was responsible to the Governor of New South Wales for the general administration of government in the District, fulfilling the role of head of government and of the civil service establishment. He undertook the normal duties of a New South Wales District Police Magistrate relating to the supervision of the local constabulary, the administration of justice and liquor licensing. His civil instructions of 14 September 1836 from the New South Wales Colonial Secretary (Historical Records of Victoria, Volume 1, p.49-54) set out his duties, including a census of the population and "protection of Aborigines":

It will be one of your most important duties to protect the aboriginal natives of the District from any manner of wrong, and to endeavour to conciliate them by kind treatment and presents...and to improve by all practicable means their moral and social conditions.

William Buckley was to be employed "as the medium of communication with them" (p.53).

In addition, Lonsdale was charged with general oversight of survey and customs officers with authority to act for the Governor of New South Wales and to report on the performance of survey and customs duties, although survey and customs officers also dealt directly with the Surveyor-General and Collector of Customs in Sydney.

Lonsdale also had general superintendence responsibility for the following embryonic functions:

health
immigration
lands
police administration and prisons
ports and harbours
post offices
trade and customs.

He was required to report monthly in confidence to the Governor of New South Wales.

Lonsdale's judicial duties involved exercising the ordinary jurisdiction of a Justice of the Peace for the laws of England in force over the Colony of New South Wales, as well as Acts of the Governor and Council. Where two Justices were required for administration of the laws, one of the officers accompanying Lonsdale was appointed a Commissioner of the Peace. Constables were appointed to execute Lonsdale's warrants and orders. (For other developments in the administration of justice and the local constabulary see VRG 4 Courts and VRG 10 Police respectively.)

Appointment of Superintendent

Following the appointment of a Superintendent for the Port Phillip District (VA 473) on 26 March 1836, the duties of the Police Magistrate, Port Phillip District, were restricted to responsibility for the local constabulary and local magisterial functions in Melbourne, and the position was retitled Police Magistrate, Melbourne.

Location of Records

Significant holdings of the Police Magistrate, except for early survey maps, are held at the Public Record Office of Victoria. However, as until separation from New South Wales in 1851, on many issues government officials dealt directly with or referred matters to parent offices in Sydney, records are found today duplicated in the Archives Office of New South Wales. In some cases the New South Wales records are the only extant archives.

See List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.16.2, 13.18.7.

 
More Research resourcesMore Research resources
Record series created by this AgencyRecord series created by this Agency
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Date Range Series Title Series Number Series Location Public Access
? 1839 - ? 1853 Inwards Un-registered Correspondence, Harbourmaster VPRS 12420 North Melbourne Open
1836 - 1837 Confidential Despatches to Governor Bourke VPRS 2 North Melbourne Part Open
1836 - 1839 Inward Correspondence Register (Refer to Microfilm Copy, VPRS 2140) VPRS 3 North Melbourne Open
1836 - 1839 Inward Registered Correspondence VPRS 4 North Melbourne Open
1836 - 1839 Duplicated Returns And Requisitions VPRS 5517 North Melbourne Closed
1836 - 1840 Outward Letter Books VPRS 1 North Melbourne Open
1836 - 1842 Outward Letter Books (Microfilm Copy of VPRS 1) VPRS 2140 Other Open
1837 - ? 1972 Reports of Land Sales by Public Auction VPRS 11862 North Melbourne Open
1837 - 1851 Register of Crown Grants VPRS 11868 North Melbourne Open
1837 - 1856 Register of Purchasers of Town Land VPRS 102 North Melbourne Open
1983 - 2001 Statistics of Port Phillip District/Colony of Victoria, 1837-1859 VPRS 5523 Other Part Open
1985 - 1985 Duplicate Returns and Requisitions, Police Magistrate, Port Phillip District (Microfilm Copy of VPRS 5517) VPRS 6769 Other Open
1985 - 1985 Confidential Despatches to Governor Bourke from Police Magistrate, Port Phillip District (Microfilm Copy of VPRS 2) VPRS 6926 Other Open
Functions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibility
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Date of Responsibility Function Title Function Number
- 1839 Census and statistics VF 3
- 1839 Finance VF 5
- 1839 General superintendence VF 6
- 1839 Immigration (nineteenth century) VF 8
- 1839 Police VF 10
- 1839 Ports and harbours VF 11
- 1839 Postal services VF 12
- 1839 Prisons and youth training centres VF 13
- 1839 Buildings, government (design and construction) VF 14
- 1839 Roads and bridges VF 15
- 1839 Health, public VF 125
- 1839 Aboriginal affairs VF 175
- 1839 Crown lands (public) VF 309
- 1839 Crown lands (government) VF 310
Functions for which this Agency has or has had secondary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had secondary responsibility
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Date of Responsibility Function Title Function Number
1836 - 1839 Liquor licences, issue and registration of VF 302
Superior AgenciesSuperior Agencies
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Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
1836 - 1839 Governor of New South Wales VA 4399
Subordinate AgenciesSubordinate Agencies
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Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
1836 - 1839 Surveyor General's Department, Port Phillip Branch (also known as the Melbourne Survey Office) VA 943
Related AgenciesRelated Agencies
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Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
Groups containing this AgencyGroups containing this Agency
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Date of Relationship Group Title Group Number
1836 - 1839 Police VRG 10
1836 - 1839 Police Magistrate, Port Phillip District VRG 7
1836 - 1839 Courts VRG 4
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