Source Information New South Wales, Australia, Returns of the Colony, 1822-1857 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.
Original data: Returns of the Colony, “Blue Books” 1822-57. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia: State Records Authority of New South Wales. Series 1286, 176 rolls.

About New South Wales, Australia, Returns of the Colony, 1822-1857

This is a database of Returns of the Colony for New South Wales between 1822-1857. This is a collection of the colony’s records in the civil, economic, judicial, police, penal, medical, ecclesiastical, and educational establishments. There are 28 different record types that are included in some form over the 35 years. The returns also include a list of the officers in these areas. There wasn’t a compiled return in 1824, but every other year between 1822-1857 contains the full returns.

The information that can be found in these records is usually the name of a person and their role in the government or their name and the type of business they were involved in with the government, whether it was a land purchase or receiving a pension payment.

Glossary of Record Types

Civil Establishment (1822-57)

This section lists officers in the Civil, Judicial, Police, Penal, Medical, Ecclesiastical and Educational Establishments. Information given includes: position, date of first appointment and salary. An alphabetical list of officers appears at the beginning of the section. From 1828, there is a Recapitulation of the Establishment which records expenditure on various establishments.

Convicts (1822-57)

Returns relating to Convicts, and the administration of the Convict system, can be found in various sections such as: Population, Revenue and Expenditure and the appendices to the 1825, 1826 and 1827 Blue Books. From 1834, there are a number of returns relating specifically to expenses incurred on account of Convicts. Included in these is a return of Convicts in the Colony on 31st December of each year.

Exchanges, Monies, Weights and Measures (including Banks) (1822-57)

Includes details of the course of exchange, and shows the amount of coin and paper currency in circulation.

Fees (1822-57)

Schedules of fees of office such as those charged by various offices relating to grants of land, Coroners' fees, and fees taken by the various courts.

Imports and Exports (1822-57)

These returns include description, quantity and value of all goods imported from and exported to Great Britain, British colonies and foreign states.

Military Expenditure (1822-57)

Returns of works of defence, armaments, expenditure, and personnel. For the years 1826 and 1827, there is a statement of Colonial pay received by staff and army officers in which the name of each officer appears.

Population (1822-57)

Estimates of population of the Colony, return of births, deaths and marriages, and return of native population in the settled districts. By 1840, births, deaths and marriages are entered in greater detail under sex, faith and locality. Population figures are also more detailed and taken from returns of the last census (figures of native population omitted). For many years there are also returns relating to immigrants and convicts arrived.

Revenue and Expenditure (1822-57)

A detailed account of net receipts and expenditure of the Colony. From 1828, there are Comparative Yearly Statements of Receipts and Expenditure, which compare the current year with the previous year(s).

Shipping (1822-57)

Returns relating to shipping can be found in various sections such as: the appendices to the 1825, 1826 and 1827 Blue Books; Imports and Exports; Manufactures, Mines and Fisheries; and from 1840, in the Printed Statistical Returns. Information contained in the various returns includes number and tonnage of vessels built and registered, accounts of convict ships arrived, and number and tonnage of shipping inwards and outwards.

Taxes, Duties, Fees and all other Sources of Revenue (1822-57)

Schedules of duties, rates, tolls, fees, etc. levied under Acts of both the British and Colonial legislatures such as wharfage rates, licences, and postage dues.

Agriculture (1828-57)

Includes returns of land granted, cleared and cultivated, stock held and slaughtered, crops and produce and average prices. The appendices to the 1825, 1826 and 1827 Blue Books also contain such returns.

Ecclesiastical Returns (1828-57)

Returns of the number of Churches, Livings, etc. Information given includes name of parish, name of minister and salary, situation of church or chapel, number of persons it contains, and number of persons generally attending.

Education (1828-57)

Includes a return of the number of schools which gives situation of school, whether private or free, name of school master or mistress and salary, number of scholars, mode of instruction, whether supported by government or by voluntary contributions and the expenses of each school.

Gaols and Prisoners (1828-57)

Schedules of total number of prisoners able to be kept in individual prisons, number of prisoners confined at certain times (male or female, black or white, tried or untried), rough classification of offence (eg. felons, misdemeanours and debtors), number of prisoners committed previously, punishments for offences within the prison, and deaths during the year.

Grants and Sales of land (1828-57)

There are returns relating to grants, from 1828, and sales, from 1832. Names of grantees receiving in excess of 500 acres are always given, and until 1852, names of those who purchased land.

Local Revenues (1828-57)

Revenue and expenditure of any municipal body not accounted for in the general revenue of the Colony. Revenue of the Corporation of the City of Sydney and various Road Trusts are included. Local Revenues do not appear every year.

Manufactures, Mines and Fisheries (1828-57)

Tables of numbers of factories, mines and quarries, returns of ships built and registered with their tonnage, and returns of produce from fisheries with details of ships concerned.

Pensions (1828-57)

Returns of pensions paid out of the general revenue of the Colony and the military chest. Name of pensioner, amount of pension, authority under which pension granted, date pension commenced, and former position of the pensioner are recorded.

Public Works (1828-57)

Includes a return of all public works, roads, bridges, etc., not of a military nature undertaken during the year.

Legislation (1832-57)

Schedule of all laws and proclamations issued during the year under review. Each schedule shows date of law, summary and date transmitted to England.

Council and Assembly (1836-57)

Returns of members of the Executive Council and the elected and non-elective members of the Legislative Council. The returns show name of person, when elected, and whether holding any civil or military office. In case of elected members of the Legislative Council the district which the member represents is also shown.

Security for Discharge of Duties (1836-57)

Return of officers who have given security for the proper discharge of their duties. Amounts of security, names of sureties, and the sums for which sureties are responsible are shown.

Printed Statistics of the Colony (1840-57)

From 1840, the printed Statistics of New South Wales are included at the back of each volume. They were compiled from returns in the office of the Colonial Secretary.

Foreign Consuls (1843-57)

Returns show name of consul, country represented, and date of recognition by foreign government.

Charitable Institutions (1855-57)

Return shows parish or district in which the institution is situated, type of institution (hospital, asylum, etc.), number of inmates, and how supported (by government and/or voluntary contributions).

Miscellaneous Numerical Returns (1855-57)

These contain overall annual figures for various districts in respect of number of: saving banks, friendly societies, freeholders, paupers, immigrants, emigrants, children employed in agriculture, persons paying direct taxation, and persons living in villages built since the Emancipation.

Political Franchise (1855-57)

Return includes conditions of franchise, name of electoral division, number of elected representatives, number of registered electors, number of voters at last General Election, and date of last General Election.

Public Debt (1855-57)

Schedule provides details of debts incurred to support major public enterprises and works such as immigration, railways, water supply, and sewerage schemes.

This information was taken from: