Series VPRS 80
Auctioneers' Reports of Land Sales by Public Auction
About this Series Related Series Accessing the records in this Series
Date Range: Series By 1847 - ? 1984
  Series in Custody 1849 - 1885
  Contents 1849 - 1885
Public Access: Open
Location: North Melbourne
Format of Records: Physical
Agency which created this SeriesAgency which created this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1847 - 1851 Superintendent, Port Phillip District VA 473
1851 - 1853 Colonial Secretary's Office VA 856
1853 - 1857 Crown Lands Department VA 2878
1857 - 1983 Department of Crown Lands and Survey VA 538
1983 - 1984 Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands VA 1034
Agency currently responsible for this SeriesAgency currently responsible for this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1996 - 2002 Department of Natural Resources and the Environment VA 3972
2002 - cont Department of Sustainability and Environment VA 4554
Description of this SeriesDescription of this Series
  • How to use the Records
    Refer to the Consignment Details to identify reports of interest.

  • Function / Content
    This series consists of individual auctioneers reports of sales of Crown lands by public auction from 1849. From 1872 the reports are bound in volumes and cover sales conducted by the department from 1872 to January 1885.

    These reports were sent to the department by the officers conducting the sales in accordance with the provisions of the Land Acts. They were completed in duplicate during the auction with one copy being sent to the Treasury together with the collected money, and the other to the Lands Department. Reports in this series are a mixture of the two types. It appears to have become customary for a lengthy period of time for those to the Department to be made on a copy of the advertising flyer for the sale. The details of all sales were then entered in the Register of Land Sales by Public Auction (see VPRS 11862).

    This series consists of a collection of reports for the date range covered. The reports record the following details:

    - Date and place of sale, including the sale number after 1860.
    - Name of the officer conducting sale. This officer may have been the Receiver and Paymaster or the District Survey Officer or a Land Officer or an auctioneer engaged to carry out the auction on behalf of the Crown.
    - Particulars of lots offered for sale

    These reports contain handwritten notes in relation to each sale:

    - Name and Residence of the Purchaser
    - Extent sold
    - Amount of the deposit paid

    In some cases telegraph notices relating to the payment of fees and balances were attached to the relevant report sent to the Lands Department. In P4 reports of land selected after the sale from lots for which no offer had been made or for which the deposit had been forfeited are also included. Further details of these sales can be found in VPRS 13019 List of Land Offered for Selection After Forfeiture of Deposit or Land Unsold at Auction and VPRS 86 Applications to Select Land Unsold at Auction or After Forfeiture of Deposit.

    Units 10 and 11 of VPRS 80 / P1 do not contain Auctioneers Reports. In these units are examples of the Auction Books used by the Deeds branch in the preparation of the Crown grants. Further details of these can be found in VPRS 798 Auction Books - Draft Grants by Purchase at Auction. Unit 12 of the P1 consignment contains summary reports of sales.

    VPRS 80 / P3 has become VPRS 873 / P1 Sale Contract Books.

    Land Sales were conducted in Victoria in accordance with the directions specified by various Land Acts and Regulations. From the 1842 Statute at Large (Vol. XXXIV), the Waste Lands Act, through to the Land Act 1869 (Act No. 360), Land Sale by Public Auction was the primary method of land alienation within the Colony of Victoria (or the Port Phillip District, as it was previously known). Lands were initially divided into three districts and classes. These districts were settled districts, intermediate districts and unsettled districts. First and second class lands were primarily located within the settled and intermediate districts, whilst third class lands tended to be within the unsettled districts.

    The Colonial Government wanted to encourage settlers to occupy and work the land in the unsettled districts, and it was argued that Land Sales by Public Auction were not achieving this goal. A series of Land Acts, beginning with the 1860 Land Act (Act No. 117), followed in order to encourage people to settle and work the land in unsettled districts. Auctions of Crown Land continued to occur after the 1869 Land Act, although at a much slower rate, and legislation governing auctions has continued to be incorporated in Victorian Land Acts.

    The responsibility for Land Sales was handled by the Chief Clerk as head of the Land Sales and Selection Branch until the restructuring of the Department of Crown Land and Survey created the Occupation Branch in the 1870's. This restructuring included the division of Victoria into a number of Lands Districts. Each Land District had a local Land Office, as well as a centralised Land Office located within the Melbourne Office. Each centralised Land Office consisted of a desk with a clerk and a draughtsman dedicated to a particular Lands District. The local Land Office and the centralised Land Office communicated with each other regularly in order to ensure that the details regarding the alienation of land were accurate and to ensure accountability and consistency. This meant that two Land Sales registers were compiled of Land Sales for any specific area, one by the local Land Office and one by the centralised Land Office. Keeping two registers was a measure intended to ensure the integrity of the records created by Lands Office by making intentional fraud more difficult for an individual to achieve, and so that the amount paid for lands could be checked to ensure that the correct amount had been recorded.

    Land Sales of Crown Land were important means of obtaining revenue for the Government during the first few decades of the Colony. The 1842 Waste Land Act specified that the revenue raised through Land Sales would go towards immigration schemes to encourage prospective settlers. The Chief Clerk prepared schedules containing the details of available lands based on reports from the local officers and district surveyors, and communications with the Surveyor General and others within the Department. Information in the Schedules included descriptions of the land, their situation, and their quality. These schedules went before the Board of Land and Works for consideration until the 1869 Land Act increased demand for land to such a degree that this was no longer possible.

    The Land Sales process followed depended on the type of land being sold - that is, whether they were town lands, auriferous (i.e gold-bearing) lands, or country lands. This process would begin with an application for a specific section of land, detailing the allotment, section, and description of the land desired (see VPRS 1258 Inward Correspondence). For Town Lots, a person would come into the Melbourne Office and fill in an application form. Those seeking auriferous lands would make an application to the District Surveyor. People wanting country lands would send in a letter containing the information needed for the application, or use an agent. Applications would be registered, and sent to the District Surveyor to check for possible objections to the particular land specified being available for sale. If there were no objections recorded by the District Surveyor, a schedule containing descriptions of the land available for sale would be drawn up. For auriferous and country lands, the District Surveyor's schedule would include valuations for improvements, such as boundary fences, and upset prices (see VPRS 919 Certificate of Valuation of Improvements (Crown Land). The price of the land would need to include the value of the improvements so that those who constructed the improvements could be properly compensated for their investment. Once schedules containing auriferous lands were received by the Melbourne Office, plans of the land included in the schedule would be drafted, coloured off, and sent to the Mines Department. If there was an objection to the sale of the land by the Mines Department, the land would be struck off the schedule. If there were no objections, the land would be included in the next land sale gazetted to be held in that district. The land would be placed in the schedule to be approved by the Minister for Lands, and this schedule would then be brought before the Governor-in-Council. If there was a prohibition against the sale of Country Lands in place, the sale could only proceed with special sanction by the Minister. A notice concerning the land would then be placed in the Government Gazette and various newspapers (see VPRS 11869 Notices of Land Sale by Public Auction). Between one to three months after the sale was gazetted, the land would be sold at the Auction Rooms. A deposit was to be paid at the Auction Rooms, with the remainder to be paid within a calendar month of the dale of sale

    Once the land had been surveyed and designated as being available for Public Auction, a notice was posted in the Government Gazette. This occurred between one to three months before the date of a sale. The notice contained the Sale Number (a sequential number from 1860), details of the date, time and location of the sale, the location and description of the land to be sold, the lot it was to be sold in, the upset price, and the deposit required. Auctioneers prepared an Auctioneers Report for the Department of Crown Land and Survey (and the Board of Land and Works) to inform them of which land was sold, to whom, for what price and what deposit (see VPRS 80 Auctioneers Reports of Land Sales by Public Auction). This information was transferred to registers in both the Land Sales office and the office in the Land District where the land was located. Land sales held in specific districts were conducted by authorised officers of the Lands Department. Financial records tracked the transfer of monies owed until the sale was finalised.

    A report that all lands had been paid for was signed by the receiver of monies and paymaster of the Department of Lands. The Treasurer and Under-Treasurer signed a report that they had received the money. The printed reports or sale books were then sent to the Deeds Branch in order for the Deeds to be prepared. The details would be recorded in a register at the Deeds Branch, and then the sale information would be passed to the Surveyor General's Branch in order to obtain the technical description of the lands before the information was returned to the Deeds Branch. The engrossment would be finalised, the information examined and checked, and then the sale information would be passed to the Chief Draughtsman's Branch so that plans could be drawn in the margin of the Grant and the Deed. These were passed back to the Deeds Branch to record that the deed was ready for final issue, before being sent to the Receipt and Pay Office in Melbourne for delivery. The Grant and Deed were signed by the Governor and sent to the Registrar of Titles. The Registrar registered and delivered the Grant to the Grantee, and retained the Deed for safe keeping.

    Summary details of all sales by auction may be found in VPRS 11862 Reports of Land Sales by Public Auction. Details of the Crown Grants issued may be found in the Registers of Crown Grants. See
    VPRS 11868 - for the period 1837 to 1851

    VPRS 11866 - for the years 1851 to 1858

    VPRS 11865 - for the period 1859 to 1988 and

    VPRS 11864 for Crown Grants issued between 1988 and 1991.

  • Recordkeeping System
    Reports are arranged in chronological order. Those in the P2 consignment are in bound volumes with one for each year.

    From the passing of the Sale of Crown lands Act 1860 sales by public auction were sequentially numbered. Sequential number order is not strictly chronological as sales may have been scheduled out of sequence.

    From 1857, there is evidence of a numbering system used, but further research is required to determine whether this was a system used solely within the Department of Crown Lands and Survey for administrative purposes. It does not appear, as the post-1860 one was, to be administered so that sale proclamation number became the sale number.

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Consignment Number Contents Date Range Public Access No. of Units
P0001 1849 - 1869 Open 12
P0002 1872 - 1885 Open 13
P0003 - Not Applicable 0
P0004 1854 - 1874 Open 25
P0005 1853 - 1864 Open 1
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