Port Phillip Illegal Squatters
The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser
3 November 1836
The Australian of the 28th has furnished us with the Reply of our Governor and Executive Council, to the Ambassadors of the, respecting their claims for compensation.
It appears from this account, that " the Company," that is, the purchaser of the land at that Settlement from the Natives, are to be allowed a remission in the purchase money of any land at Port Phillip, which may be put up lo public auction, and knocked down to them, to the amount of the expenses incurred by them previous to August, 1833, that is, according to the Australian, the amount of their passages to the New Settlement, and of the purchase from the Natives.
The "squatters" who have no deed of sale by the Aborigines to fall back upon, are to be allowed - just nothing at all. We perfectly agree with the Australian in opinion, of the unreasonableness of these decisions, for we cannot see any better ground for allowance to one party, than exists equally in favour of the other.
If the decision of the "Company's" claims, be founded upon the alleged purchase, we deem it utterly incorrect and unjust, and tending to establish a most inconvenient and absurd precedent, for such bargains as that at Port Phillip, may be made and will be effected we have little doubt, all round the Court.
Not one of the Squatters of Port Phillip, whether of "the Company," or independent, ought to have received even the fraction of a farthing, in any way connected with their illegal occupancy of that settlement, it is an injustice done to every resident Colonist, and to every Emigrant who may arrive for the future.
He must pay his own passage hither, must expend means in selecting land for purchase, and endure the gross neglect and delay of the present System of Land Sale to be opposed by some despicable individual, whose vicious necessities render a dishonest way of acquiring money, a welcome refuge. If unwilling to be robbed of the sop required to satisfy the vile cur that molests him, he is plundered in the enhanced price he has to pay for his land.
But if on arrival here, he has wit enough to walk far a-field, and purchase of the natives, in the simple and truly effective form, established by Port Philip precedent he will obtain land, without measure, and comparatively without price - and receive remission from the Government in any after purchase, when it becomes necessary for the administration to annex his dominions to the Territory!
What a monstrous absurdity is involved in these two cases. There are squatters at Twofold Bay under far more favorable circumstances of location, than can be brought forward by the Van Diemen's Land Phillipians in their defence.
The first belong to this Colony, and settled at Twofold Bay in the common way of squatting, and if the first occupancy of distant waste lands, entitle the pioneers to any compensation when required to surrender those lands to the control of government, these parties could claim some recompense for abandoning gainful pursuits, and removing elsewhere, because they had only followed a long continued custom of taking temporary possession of the waste lands of New Holland, whether within or without the bounds of the colony of New South Wales.
But Port Phillip is taken possession of by strangers, who not content with the certainty of unquestioned temporary for a time, actually purchase of the Aborigines, and set up a claim accordingly, to absolute right against all comers.
The zeal and enterprise of the individuals who have attempted to seize sovereignty at Port Phillip, let it be understood, were directed only to their own advantage, and if discoveries of any matter, or thing of colonial, or national importance have been made by them, what possible claim can that give them to compensation, or what title to their usurpation? his colony when circumstances require it, has talent and energy enough to develop all that remains to be discovered within its limits, or within the circle of the shores of the vast continental-island on which it is placed, and however much we may he indebted to the zeal and enterprise of the Phillippian adventurers, it must be remembered, that those qualifications and their results, had no birth in any desire for our benefit, but sprung solely from the hope of self emolument.
It cannot be that, because the inhabitants of Van Diemen's land are English, they are competent to take possession of a part of New South Wales, by an act of trespass, and debar our population from claims on the soil - Would American, or French, or any other foreign people have been permitted to acquire land by purchase of the natives, and to set up their title against this colony?
We suppose not, and in this case the inhabitants of Van Diemen's Land are foreigners to us, and, therefore can profess no immunity by which they can deprive us, in the way they have attempted, of an inch of the soil of this colony, whether it be within the limits of colonization or not.
What an outcry would be made, if persons attempted to squat in the vicinity of Twofold Bay, or Monaroo, were gravely told by the present residents, that all the land for miles in every direction, belonged to them by purchase of the natives.
The adventurous declarants, would run much risk we fear, of forcible dispossession of a great part of their territory. And is the improper occupancy of Port Phillip of less consequence, because that settlement is a little further from our immediate wants than Twofold Bay or Monaroo?
The adoption of the system of Free Grants is recommended at the new settlement, but this could not take place unless its re-establishment was permitted here.
We quite agree in opinion with a contemporary, that that system properly applied, is the only one to be relied upon, for securing emigration; the substitution of the present Regulations for the sale of Land, has done more injury to the Colony in this particular point, than years of remedy will efface, and unless some certain advantage, rather more powerful than is afforded by permission to purchase land, is held out to the middle Classes or the Mother Country, this Colony may talk, and write to eternity before emigration of that class can be hoped for.
Our wealth however will continue to be misapplied in the introduction of swarms of Irish girls, of whose utility generally there can be but one opinion, and our streets remain thronged with the decidedly vicious and immoral females, selected for us with so much care, from the highways of the large towns in the South of Ireland.
And this is the Emigration system, and the blessing derived from the very means we were led to look to for the regeneration of the morals of our population.
Since writing the above, we have observed in a Hobart Town paper, copy of a petition to Sir Richard Bourke, from Van Diemen's Land, complaining of the possession taken of Port Phillip by "disloyal Squatters."
We annex the Memorial:-
The following is a copy of a short petition most numerously signed: - To His Excellency Sir Richard Bourke, Governor General of New South Wales, &c. &c. &c.
The memorial of the undersigned respectfully sheweth- That being true and lawful subjects of His Britannic Majesty, they have ever maintained his dignity and enforced his laws to the utmost of their power, and that they have further respected his representative and complied with his orders in this distant colony.
That others, less loyal and less obedient subjects, have forcibly taken possession of certain Lands at Port Philip, have, in direct disobedience to all reputations, depastured sheep and cattle, and without any authority, have presumed to call that settlement their own; and, furthermore, when his Majesty has claimed the right of the soil, these same adventurers, and disloyal subjects claim compensation for endeavouring to benefit themselves.
Now, we the Undersigned, most respectfully submit lo your Excellency, that it is us who deserve compensation, for which we most humbly pray; we have neither disobeyed orders and regulations like those disloyal squatters, but have waited patiently, the time that the pleasure of his Majesty might be made known, as we are in duty bound and we will ever pray, &c. Hobart Town, October, 1836.