Aborigines Circular Questions

The Sydney Herald

30 October 1841

Replies to the following Circular Letter on the subject of the Aborigines, addressed to gentlemen residing too remote from Sydney, to expect the favour of their personal attendance upon the Committee. Council Office, Sydney, 12th June, 1841.


His Excellency the Governor, in his opening address to the Legislative Council on the 8th instant, having suggested the possibility of having recourse to the services of the Aboriginal Natives of this colony, with a view in some measure to supply the prevailing want of labourers in all agricultural and pastoral operations, the Committee which has been re-appointed by the Legislative Council, to consider and report upon the subject of Immigration, are desirous of obtaining such information as to the practical success which has attended the employment of the Aboriginal Natives as may enable them to decide how far the same may be feasible upon a more extended scale.

I am therefore directed to request, that you will have the goodness to reply, at your earliest convenience, to the following questions, for the information of the Committee, and to enable them to report their opinion to the Governor and Council upon this highly important subject; your replies to be written upon this sheet (with the addition of more sheets if necessary) and returned under cover to me.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your most obedient humble servant,

Wm. Macpherson, Clerk of Councils.


1. Have you been in the habit of employing any of the Native Blacks upon your establishment.

2. If such be the case, please to state what numbers you have generally had so engaged; whether they have continued in constant employ; what has been the nature of their occupation; and how you have been satisfied with their assiduity?

3. Have they been accustomed to receive wages, or other remuneration for their labour; and if so, of what kind, and to what amount?

4. From your experience of their disposition and capacity, what opinion have you been led to form of their usefulness; and also as to the possibility of attaching them regularly to the Establishments of settlers, in the capacity of hired servants - whether as shepherds or farm labourers?

5. Can you offer any suggestion as to the means by which they may be more readily induced to engage in the above, or in any other useful occupations?

6. Please to state the amount of labour which you have known any of them to accomplish, by the day, week, or month; what you consider their average services as compared with those of Europeans; and in what manner they may be most readily induced to exert themselves?

7. What do you consider to be their prevailing character and disposition as labourers; and what are their numbers, so far as you can form an estimate, in your immediate neighbourhood; describing the limits to which your calculation extends?