Skip to main content
  • Home
  • /

  • Colonial Secretary's letters received relating to Moreton Bay and Queensland 1822-1860

Colonial Secretary's letters received relating to Moreton Bay and Queensland 1822-1860

Image of Moreton Bay Settlement New South Wales in 1835

Image of a watercolour painting, by Henry Boucher Bowman, of Moreton Bay Settlement New South Wales in 1835; State Library of Queensland, Image number 3944-1v000r001

The correspondence of the Colonial Secretary is one of the most valuable sources of information on all aspects of the history of the Colony and the State of New South Wales. Chiefly responsible for this was the Colonial Secretary's pre-eminence in public life and the fortunate occurrence of the survival of the greater part of his papers.

Museums of History NSW State Archives - Colonial Secretary's Correspondence Guide

There are a number of indexes to locate information relevant to a range of aspects of the history of Queensland. Historic events and individuals are listed. Use the indexes to locate the relevant documents on microfilm.

Introduction to the records

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the John Oxley Librarian negotiated with the Archives Authority of New South Wales to undertake a filming program to copy all correspondence relating to the Moreton Bay settlement and the area which after December 1859 became known as the Colony of Queensland. The films held at the State Library of Queensland were designated the A2 series, starting with Reel A2.1, progressing through to A2.53 in chronological order; although one reel might contain records for more than one year.

As the correspondence commenced in 1822 and continued until late 1859 (this continuing project currently covers to 1852 plus 1859), the material is of particular interest to researchers of the years of penal settlement followed by the period after 1842 when the district was opened to free settlers. In many cases annotations on the back of letters indicate the decision taken by the Governor and the course of action taken. On occasions, earlier or later documentation between the settlement and headquarters which concerned the same subject was batched and filmed together.

Letters were sent by well-known personalities such as Commandants Miller, Logan, Clunie, Fyans, Cotton, Gravatt and Gorman to Governors Brisbane, Darling, Bourke, Gipps and Denison. Also reports appear created by Surveyor Generals Oxley and Mitchell, Master Attendant John Nicholson, Doctors Cowper, Murray, Robertson, Ballow and Cannan, the Reverends John Vincent, Johannes Handt and John Gregor plus other eminent pioneers. Contrasting with official circulars and despatches can be found convict petitions, applications by early settlers and listings of land sales.

This inspiring source, outlining the establishment of the colony of Queensland from its inception, has now been indexed by a State Library volunteer Christine D’Ath to provide easy access to the reels.

For material between 1822 and December 1825, an index created by New South Wales State Archives to The Papers of the New South Wales Colonial Secretary 1788-1825 should also be consulted. [This index is available online at NSW State Archives Collections, or at State Library. The material referred to in the index is available in the level 3 reading room.]

Dr Jennifer Harrison


An index has been created for each microfilm and a number of reels have yet to be indexed.

To locate the information you need choose which date range you want, click on the link to open a pdf, then do a keyword search of the document.

Once you have located a reference, make a note of the reel number and page number.

To find the material on microfilm visit the level 3 reading room or use our Ask a librarian enquiry service to get a copy.

A2 series microfilm

New South Wales - Colonial Secretary
Letters Received 1826 - 1934

  • Letters relating to Moreton Bay and Queensland, 1822 - 1860
  • From the Originals in the Archives Office of New South Wales