British Empire
Living in the British empire - Australia
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Notice published by the British governor of Sydney in 1814 commenting on the issue of grain shortages
(Catalogue ref: CO 201/280)
  • This short extract comes from a long letter written in 1838 by missionaries working in Australia with the native Australians, the Aborigines.
  • The missionaries had set up a small mission to help the Aborigines who were struggling to cope with the impact of the arrival of the Europeans.
  • When the British first arrived there was often open conflict between them and Aborigines. As the settlers became stronger, the Aborigines declined. Disease killed many of them. New farming methods and animals (especially rabbits) caused environmental damage.
  • From the arrival of the British in 1788 to about 1920 the Aborigine population fell by about 90%.
  • This source is a good example of the controversy stirred up by the issue. Is it evidence that the British empire helped the Aborigines with missionary work? Or is it evidence that British rule brought misery to the Aborigines that could not be put right by a few well-meaning missionaries?
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