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Government notice relating to gold mining in New South Wales, 1851
(Catalogue ref: CO 201/444)
  • This government notice was published in 1851 by the Governor of New South Wales.
  • The British first set up colonies in Australia in the 1780s. One of the main aims of the colony was to keep convicts who had been sentenced to transportation. However, the British hoped that Australia would eventually become a prosperous colony like Canada.
  • The British invested huge resources into getting the Australian colonies off the ground. They gave land, cattle, seeds, tools and other resources to settlers. They also encouraged convicts who had served their sentences to remain in Australia.
  • When gold was discovered in 1851 the British hoped that this new resource would be exploited. However, they wanted private individuals and companies to do it. The British government hoped to make some money from taxes, sales of land, and by making miners pay for licenses for mining. Licenses cost 30 shillings each, but most miners tried to avoid paying. This led to clashes with the police. The most famous was at Ballarat in 1854 when 17 miners were killed.
  • This notice makes clear the British government's position in terms of land for mining. Basically the government claimed that all gold belonged to the government. Miners had to pay for permission to mine for gold. Not surprisingly, many miners resented this.
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