Search the Library’s Manuscript Index Catalogue for despatches from the Governors of NSW to the Secretary of State in London (1813-1879); and from the Secretary of State to the Governor (1831-1878). This index to the despatches is more detailed than Historic Records of NSW and includes frequent references to individuals as well as subjects. The despatches are on the microfilm reference shelves in Special Collections area.
The despatches are transcriptions from the original documents and may be incomplete or contain errors.
The Manuscripts Index Catalogue also contains other manuscript material processed prior to 1945. It can be accessed online or consulted on cards in the Special Collections area. This catalogue is complex and we recommend seeking assistance from a Special Collections Librarian at the Special Collections Desk or online via Ask A Librarian.
Use the Harvard Index for a quick entry point into Historical Records of Australia, the multi-volume transcripts of governors’ despatches and other Australian documents in British repositories. Especially useful if you are researching the early settlements of New South Wales and Tasmania.
The Library has in addition to the original despatches in the AJCP (PRO Class: CO 201), handwritten duplicate copies that were kept in NSW and indexed in the Manuscripts Catalogue. These copies contain some omissions and errors, however, they do provide easy access to the despatches which are not indexed in the AJCP.
Referred to as the Settlers Letters Index, The Deane Index, compiled by Matilda Deane in 1929 (Series CO 201 NSW Original Correspondence), indexes letters sent to the UK Colonial Office regarding all aspects of life in NSW including:
These letters are indexed by the name of the writer only, not the subject of the letter. People named in letters may be the subject of the letter but won’t appear in the index – see Deane index re-indexed.
The Re-index is more detailed than the original Deane Index containing index entries to all named persons and ships in the letters.
Researchers should consult both indexes as the original Deane index has more information about the content of the letter.
The Manuscripts Index Card Catalogue also indexes records known as the Bonwick Transcripts (identified by the call number BT).
These are also transcripts of Colonial Office records and may contain errors, however, as with the despatches they can be useful for locating information which can then be sourced from the originals
Refer to AJCP Colonial Office handbook to locate the original documents in "CO 201: NSW Original Correspondence".
James Bonwick was authorised by the NSW Colonial Secretary, Sir Henry Parkes, in 1887 to transcribe Governors’ despatches from the Public Record Office for an official centenary history of NSW.
Then appointed as NSW Government Archivist he compiled what became known as the Bonwick Transcripts later published in the series Historical Records of New South Wales.
His work later received criticism. His selections were arbitrary and censored, excluding material that reflected poorly on individuals or drew attention to convict origins.
However, the transcripts were of value to researchers unable to view the original documents in Britain.