William Shelley to Run School for Aborigines

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser

17 December 1814

Government and General Orders. Government House, Sydney, Saturday 10th December, 1814.  Civil Department.       

His Excellency the Governor having long viewed with Sentiments of Commiseration the very wretched State of the Aborigines of this Country, and having revolved in his Mind the most probable and promising Means of ameliorating their Condition, has now taken the Resolution to adopt such Measures as appeal to him   best calculated to effect that Object, and improve the Energies of this innocent, destitute, and unoffending Race.  

With this anxiety to make an Experiment so interesting to the Feelings of Humanity, and to endeavour to ascertain how far the Condition of   the natives may be improved by the Application of such Means as are within his Power, His Excellency feels that he is making an Acknowledgment to which they are in some Degree entitled, when it is considered that the British Settlement of this Country, though necessarily   excluding the Natives from many of the natural Advantages they had previously derived from the   animal and other Productions of this Part of the Territory, has never met with any serious or determined Hostility from them, but rather a Disposition to submit peaceably to such Establishments as were necessarily made on the Part of the British Government on the Foundation of this Settlement.

With a View, therefore, to effect the Civilization of the Aborigines of New South Wales, and to render their Habits more domesticated and industrious, His Excellency the Governor, as well from Motives of Humanity as of that Policy which affords a reasonable Hope of producing such an Improvement in their Condition as may eventually contribute to render them, not only more happy in themselves, but also in some Degree useful to the Community, has determined to institute a School for the Education of the Native Children of both sexes, and to assign a Portion of Land for the Occupancy and Cultivation of adult Natives, under such Rules and Regulations   as appeal to him likely to answer the desired Objects; and which are now published for general Information.

First, That there shall be a School for the Aborigines of New South Wales, established in the town of Parramatta; of which His Excellency the Governor, is to be Patron, and Mrs. Macquarie, Patroness.

Secondly, That there shall be a Committee, consisting of seven Gentlemen, for conducting and directing the Institution;- One of the Committee to act as Treasurer and Secretary.

Thirdly, That the Institution shall be placed under the immediate Management and Care of Mr. William Shelley, as Superintendant and Principal Instructor.

Fourthly, That the main Object of the Institution shall be the Civilization of the Aborigines of both Sexes.

Fifthly, That the Expenses of the Institution shall be defrayed for the first two Years by Government, in such Manner as the Governor may deem expedient; but with a View to extend the Benefits of it after that Period, that Subscriptions shall be solicited and received from public Societies and private Individuals.

Sixthly, That this institution shall be an Asylum for the Native Children of both Sexes; but no Child shall be admitted under four, or exceeding seven years of Age.

Seventhly, That the Number of Children to be admitted in the first Instance, shall not exceed six boys and six Girls; which Numbers shall be afterwards increased according to Circumstances.          

Eighthly, that the Children of both Sexes shall be instructed in common, in Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic; That the Boys shall also be instructed in Agriculture, Mechanical Arts; and such common Manufactures as may best suit their ages and respective Dispositions; That the Girls shall also be taught Needlework: For all which Purposes, Instructors, properly qualified, will be employed.

Ninthly, That the Manager or Superintendant   shall have the immediate Care of the Children, the Purchase of Provisions, and of the Materials for employing them, together with the Disposal of the Articles manufactured by the Children.  

Tenthly, That a Portion of Land shall be located for the use of adult Natives, who shall be invited and encouraged to cultivate it; and that such Assistance shall be rendered them for that Purpose by Government, as may be deemed expedient; That the Management and Superintendance thereof shall be also vested in Mr. Shelley; and under his immediate Inspection, subject to such Directions as he shall receive from the Committee.

Eleventhly,that the Committee shall meet Quarterly at the Town of Parramatta, on the first Wednesday in each succeeding Quarter, for the Purpose of inspecting and auditing the Quarterly accounts of the Manager; and also of examining the Pupils as to their Progress in Civilization, Education, and Morals; and how far the  necessary Attention has been paid to their Diet, Health, and Cleanliness - That the Committee (which shall at no Time consist of less than five Members) shall have Power to take Cognizance of and correct any existing Abuses, and frame such additional Regulations as may appear necessary for the Improvement and Benefit of the Institution.

Twelfthly, That the Committee shall make a written Report of the Result of their Observations and Enquiries, at their Quarterly Meetings, to His Excellency the Governor, as Patron of   the Institution ; and also of such Rules and Regulations as they may deem necessary to frame for the Benefit of the Institution; which must receive the Sanction of the Governor, previous to their being carried into Effect.

Thirteenthlv, That the proposed Institution shall be opened for the Reception of the pre scribed Number of Children, on Wednesday the 18th Day of January next, being the auspicious Anniversary of the Birth of Our Most Gracious Queen.

Fourteenthly, That no Child, after having been admitted into the Institution, shall be permitted to leave it, or to be taken away by any Person whatever (whether Parents or other Relatives), until such Time as the Boys shall have attained the Age of sixteen Years, and the Girls fourteen Years: at which Ages they shall be respectively discharged.

Fifteenthly. The undermentioned Gentlemen having expressed their Willingness to forward and promote the Objects of the proposed Institution, His Excellency is pleased to constitute and appoint them (with their own Concurrence) to be the Committee for Conducting and Directing ALL the Affairs connected therewith.


1. John Thomas Campbell, Esq. 2. D'Arcy Wentworth, Esq.  3. William Redfern; Esq. 4. Hannibal M'Arthur, Esq. 5. The Rev. William Cowper, 6. The Rev. Henry Fulton, 7. Mr. Rowland Hassall.

His Excellency is further pleased to appoint John Thomas Campbell, Esq. to be Secretary and Treasurer of the Institution.

By Command of His Excellency The Governor,

 J.T. Campbell, Secretary.