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papers are gathered together in one place, the Public Record Office, London, and are kept in the custody of the Master of the Rolls, who by the Public Records Act (1 and 2 Vict., c. 94) is constituted Keeper of the Archives.* These stores of information are not simply hoarded up—they are treated in such a way as to be of use to the people, and to bring within easy reach of the historian the documentary evidence that he requires. Large volumes, entitled “ Calendars of State Papers,” consisting of condensations of the documents in the Public Record Office and elsewhere from the days of Henry VIII to the Eighteenth Century, are in course of publication, while some of the earlier records are printed in full.
Under the direction of the Master of the Rolls, and by the authority of Her Majesty's Treasury, the publication was commenced thirty-four years ago of “The Chronicles and Memorials of Great Britain and Ireland during the Middle Ages.” The first volume (published December, 1857) contained an official statement, which has been repeated in subsequent volumes, to the effect that on the 26th January of that year the Master of the Rolls submitted to the Treasury a proposal for the publication of materials for the history of Great Britain, from the invasion of the Romans to the reign of Henry VIII. The Lords of the Treasury adopted the suggestion, and the work, conducted by a staff of editors, has gone on without interruption to the present time. Up to 1891 over 200 volumes had been published. The care and elaboration with which the work is done may be seen from the copies of tho books in the Free Public Library, Sydney.
More than half a century before the publication of the “Chronicles and Memorials” was commenced, that is to say in the year 1800, a Select Committee of the House of Commons had recommended that the public records should be printed. This recommendation is referred to by the Honorable Board of Commissioners on the Public Records in its report to the King-inCouncil of 7th February, 1837.
The Commissioners express With the exception of certain manuscripts in the British Museum and a few public libraries, most of the public muniments of the realm are now placed in one repository, and under the supervision of the Master of the Rolls.- Encyclopædia Britannica, ninth edition, vol. xx, p. 313.
their approval of the proposition in the following words :-“In this opinion (the opinion of the Select Committee that the Records should be printed] we have entirely coincided. We regard the press as at once the only perfectly secure preservative of the information which the National Archives contain, and the only means by which that information can be diffused beyond a very narrow circle of inquirers.” The publication of the “Chronicles and Memorials” is the outcome of these recommendations.
In Canada the Records are scrupulously kept, and their contents disclosed for the information of the public. In 1872 the Dominion Government appointed an Archivist, and founded an Archives Office at Ottawa, where all the public records, with the exception of those retained by the provincial authorities, are stored. The papers consist partly of original documents, and partly of copies of old despatches and other manuscripts transcribed by a staff of writers from originals discovered by the Archivist in the London Record Office and Departments of State, and in the archives of Paris and other European cities. From time to time reports are issued in which the Records are described, and when considered necessary, printed in full. In this manner the public is placed in possession of information of the highest interest and importance relating to the early history of Canada which had never before seen the light.
In New South Wales, owing to the shorter period of time, and the smaller quantity of material to be dealt with, it is possible to do what would be impracticable under other circumstances, that is to say, to publish in full the Records of the Colony from its foundation. It has also been decided to publish all available correspondence concerning Captain Cook and his connection with Australian discovery. The Cook Papers form Part I of Vol. I. Part II of Vol. I contains the records relating to the establishment of the Colony and its progress under Governor Phillip.
When the settlement at Port Jackson was established the chief authority was vested in the Governor, who not only governed the Colony, but administered its affairs. The Civil business was conducted nominally by a staff, but much of the work fell upon
the Governor, who was troubled with matters of a kind which would
be settled in the present day by an ordinary clerk. He was also at the head of the naval and military forces, and was the principal, it may almost be said the only, channel of communication between the Colonial Government and the English authorities. The reasons which led the English Government to plant a convict settlement in New South Wales are only briefly indicated in the scanty papers discovered in the State Departments; but when the Colony had been established its affairs formed the subject of periodical letters from the Governors, who wrote fully about the concerns of the settlement, receiving in reply despatches for their guidance and instruction. Most of this correspondence has been preserved in the English Departments of State either in the original or in official copies. Its value is inestimable. The despatches are full of information. The Governors were required by their instructions to keep the Home authorities well informed about matters great and small, and in the despatches sent to London almost every transaction that took place is minutely described. More than this, copies of all the proclamations and orders issued by the Governor and the military commander were forwarded for the information of the English authorities. These documents are recorded with the other State papers.
The early history of New South Wales is founded mainly apon the despatches sent by the Governors to the authorities in England, and the despatches received by them in reply. The Records are comprised within measurable bounds, and as they are the chief material out of which history must be made, it has been decided to print them as they stand.
This course has been adopted on the recommendation of a Board, consisting of the late Hon. Geoffrey Eagar, Under Secretary for Finance and Trade from 1872 to 1891 ; Alexander Oliver, M.A., Barrister-at-Law; Professor G. Arnold Wood, B.A., Challis Professor of History at the Sydney University; and R. C. Walker, Principal Librarian, Public Library. The Board having ascertained the nature of the documents at the disposal of the Government, came to the conclusion that the design with which the publication of the Official History was commenced could not be fully carried out unless the State papers and other
official documents upon which the work was based were made as accessible to the public as the History itself. They decided, therefore, that the printing of the Records was not only desirable but necessary, and in the month of March, 1891, a recommendation to that effect was made to the then Colonial Treasurer, the Hon. William McMillan. The proposal received the cordial approval of the Minister, who gave the necessary authority to carry out the work on the lines recommended by the Board. Arrangements were made accordingly for printing and publishing the despatches, reports, letters, and other papers which had been collected.
While the best use has been made of the material at command, the Records of the early days of the Colony cannot be presented in an absolutely complete form. Every paper of consequence that has been discovered, or may be discovered hereafter, will be published; but unfortunately manuscripts of great interest and importance, which are known to have existed, cannot now be found. The most valuable of the early Records are the despatches sent to England by the Governors, and the despatches received by the Governors from the authorities in London. At Government House, Sydney, there are a number of letter-books containing copies of the despatches sent to England, and the original despatches received from the Home authorities; but these Records, instead of going back to 1788, the year in which New South Wales was founded, begin with 1800. Of the despatches received and sent before that date, during the Governorships of Phillip and Hunter, and the Lieutenant-Governorships of Grose and Paterson, there is no trace. What has become of them it is impossible to say. A hundred years ago State papers were not so carefully guarded as they are now; the English system was loose, and it would have been surprising if greater care had been taken in Sydney than in London. Some of the early Australian Governors may have taken their papers with them when they left office. On that supposition the disappearance of the despatches from 1788 to 1800 is readily explained ; but even then the whole case is not met, for public Records of which the Governors were not the custodians are also missing.
There are circumstances, however, which discourage the view that Governors' despatches in the early days were treated as the property of those to whom they were sent. It is certain that they were not so treated by Governor King, and there seems to be no reason why Phillip and Hunter, Grose and Paterson, should have followed a different practice. We have the means of knowing exactly the course pursued by Hunter's immediate successor. The Hon. Philip Gidley King, M.L.C., has placed at the disposal of the Government the books and papers left by his grandfather, Governor King ; but, while these manuscripts include copies of most, if not all, of the despatches received by King from the English Ministers and Under Secretaries of State, no originals are to be found. The despatches have been copied into letterbooks, some by King himself, some by his secretary ; but, while many unofficial letters to King are among the papers, the originals of the Home despatches are wanting. The inference is plain. If King had at any time regarded the English despatches as his own property, he would not have gone to the trouble of copying them, and the originals would have been found among his papers. He was exceedingly careful about his correspondence, preserving communications of all kinds, whether trivial or important, but duplicating nothing. When an original document is met with there is no copy. And the manuscripts at Government House show that when King relinquished the government he left the originals of the English despatches in the office. If in doing so he acted in accordance with the recognised practice, the presumption is that his predecessors—Governors Phillip and Hunter, and Lieutenant-Governors Grose and Paterson--treated in the same way the despatches received by them.
What then has become of these manuscripts ? Most probably they have been destroyed ; but by whom or with what object can only be conjectured. That the missing despatches met with this fate is the more likely from the fact previously stated, that public records of corresponding dates, for which the Governors were not responsible, have also disappeared. A strongroom in the Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney, contains all the original records of New South Wales that can be found. These