James Stirling






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No. One
Downing Street
30th December 1828


It having been resolved by His Majesty's Government to occupy the Port on the Western Coast of New Holland, at the Mouth of the River called "Swan River", with the adjacent Territory, for the purpose of forming a Settlement there. His Majesty has been pleased to approve the selection of yourself to have the Command of the Expedition appointed for that Service, and the Superintendance of the proposed Settlement.

You will accordingly repair, with all practicable dispatch to the place of your destination, on board the vessel, which has been provided for that purpose.

As Swan River and the adjacent Territory are not within the limits of any existing Colony, difficulties may easily be anticipated in the course of your proceedings, from the absence of all Civil Institutions, Legislative, Judicial, or Financial.

Until provision can be made, in due form of Law, for the Government of the projected Colony, the difficulties, to which I refer, must be combated, and will, I trust, be overcome by your own firmness and discretion.

You will assume the Title of Lieutenant Governor, and in that character will correspond with this Department, respecting your proceedings, and the wants and prospects of the Settlement you are to form.

Amongst your earliest duties will be that of determining the most convenient site for a Town, to be erected as the future Seat of Government.

You will be called upon to weigh maturely the advantages, which may arise from placing it on so secure a situation as may be afforded on various points of the Swan River, against those which may follow from establishing it on so fine a Port for the reception of shipping as Cockburn Sound is represented to be: and more effectually to guard against the evils, to be apprehended from an improvident disposal of the land in the immediate vicinity of the Town, you will take care, that a square of three Miles (or one thousand nine hundred and twenty Acres) is reserved for its future extension, and, that the land within this space is not granted away (as in ordinary cases) but shall be held upon leases from the Crown, for a Term not exceeding twenty one years. You will, from the commencement of the undertaking, be observant of the necessity of marking out, and reserving for Public purposes, all those peculiar positions within, or in the vicinity of the projected Town, which, from natural advantages, or otherwise, will probably be essential to the future welfare of the Settlement.

In laying the foundations of any such Town, care must be taken to proceed upon a regular plan, leaving all vacant spaces which will in future times be required for thoroughfares, and as the sites of Churches, Cemeteries, and other Public Works of utility and general convenience.

You will cause it to be understood that His Majesty has granted to you the power of making all necessary locations of Land.

For your guidance, in this respect, ample instructions will, at a future period, be prepared. In the meantime I enclose a Copy of the Instructions of the Governor of New South Wales on this subject, to which you will adhere as closely as circumstances will admit.

You will bear in mind, that, in all locations of Territory, a due proportion must be reserved for the Crown, as well as for the maintenance of the Clergy, support of Establishments for the purposes of Religion, and the Education of youth, concerning which objects more particulars will be transmitted to you hereafter.

I think it necessary, also, to caution you, thus early (as Land on the Sea or River Side will, naturally, be the first to be located) that you must be careful not to grant more than a due proportion of Sea or River Frontage to any Settler. The great advantage to be derived from an easy Water Communication will of course not escape your consideration, and this advantage should be divided amongst as many Settlers as can conveniently benefit by their position in the vicinity.

In regard to the Surveys and Explications of the Country, which you may think it right to set on foot, it is perhaps premature to give you any Instructions, upon a point where so much must be left to your own discretion, and the intelligence, as to the nature of the soil, and of the Country which you may obtain, on the spot; looking, however, to the future prospects of the Settlement, and to the advantages of its local position, I should be inclined to think, that it will be expedient to make the Country South of Swan River the scene of your labors, rather than the tract of Country North of that Stream, and, that you will do well to invite the Settlers to locate themselves according to this suggestion.

You will endeavour to settle, with the consent of the parties concerned, a Court of Arbitration for the decision of such questions of Civil Rights as may arise between the early Settlers, and, until a more regular form of administering Justice can be organized.

You will recommend by your Counsels, and example the habitual observance of Sunday, as a day of rest, and Public worship, as far as may be compatible with the circumstances in which you may be placed.

With these few and general Instructions for your guidance, assisted by the oral and written Communications, which have taken place between yourself and this Department, you will, I trust, be able to surmount the difficulties to which you may be exposed at the outset, enhanced, though they will be by the want of any regular Commission for administering the Government.

An Instrument of that nature, accompanied with all the requisite Instructions, will be transmitted to you, as soon as the indispensable forms of proceeding in such cases will allow.




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