[Earl Grey and the Australian Constitutions Act 1850.] Privately-circulated printed transcript of the dispatch of Earl Grey to Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy, Governor of New South Wales, dated 30 August 1850, explaining the details of the act.

Earl Grey [Henry George Grey, 3rd Earl Grey (1802-1894)] [Sir Frederick Peel (1823-1906), Liberal Liberal MP]
Publication details: 
No printer or date. [London: HMSO, circa 1850.] Letter dated 'Downing Street, | August 30, 1850.'
SKU: 21142

No other copy of the present document, which was privately printed by Her Majesty's Stationery Office for Grey, as Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, has been discovered. It certainly pre-dates the first publication of the dispatch in 1851. The dispatch is of high significance, being Grey's own explanation of the 'details' of a highly-significant 'measure' in the history of the Australian constitution. [12]pp, foolscap 8vo. Disbound from a collection of parliamentary papers assembled by Sir Frederick Peel (1823-1906), Liberal MP for Leominster, who was Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, 1851-1854; and Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, 1854-1855. No printed pagination, but the volume as a whole was paginated in Peel's hand, the present item running from 207 to 218. At the head of the first page Peel has written: 'Australn. Colonies Govt: Bill.' In good condition, lightly aged. On grey paper. The text is entirely printed in type simulating copperplate handwriting, except for occasional marginal glosses in Roman and Italic. No title or printer's slug: no more than the transcript of a dispatch dated from 'Downing Street, | August 30, 1850.' Signed in type 'Grey.' (Associated dispatches from Peel's volume carry Grey's actual signature.) The identity of the addressee of this dispatch is not given, but it is the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Charles Augustus FitzRoy (1796-1858), who would have received the original manuscript from London with the first printed copy of the act to which it relates: the Australian Constitutions Act 1850 (properly 'An Act for the better Government of Her Majesty's Australian Colonies', 13 & 14 Vict., c.59). The act made a number of highly-significant changes in the government of all four of the Australian colonies. Grey's aim in writing the dispatch is, as he explains, 'fully to explain […] the details of the measure which has just received the sanction of Parliament, and which it will be your duty to take the necessary steps for bringing into operation at as early a period as may be practicable'. The present printed transcript of the dispatch would have been produced by the parliamentary printers for circulation to to MPs and other interested parties. The first publication of this dispatch was in the following year, as 'Copy of a DESPATCH from Earl Grey to Governor Sir C. A. Fitzroy', in 'Further Papers relating to the Alterations in the Constitutions of the Australian Colonies' (HMSO, 1851). The dispatch began to be quoted in the Australian papers in February of 1851. The dispatch is divided into 28 numbered sections, the first reading: 'Sir, | 1. The Act for the better Government of Her Majesty's Australian Colonies having at length received the Royal Assent, it is with much satisfaction that I have now the honour of transmitting it to you. It was my earnest desire to have been enabled to do so at an earlier period; but the delay which has occurred in finally enacting this measure has been attended with this advantage, that it has given room for the thorough and repeated discussion of its provisions, both in Parliament and by the various organs of public opinion in the Colonies. These protracted discussions, and the detailed Report of the Committee of Her Majesty's Privy Council, of which you are already in possession, and of which the recommendations have been closely followed in this Act, must have rendered both its principle and its details so well known to yourself and to the public, that it is necessary for me on the present occasion to do little more than advert to some of the changes which the measure underwent during its progress through Parliament.' In conclusion he stresses that, 'in framing this measure and recommending it to Parliament, Her Majesty's Government have had no other object in view but that of establishing in the Australian Colonies a system of government founded on the same principles of well-regulated freedom, under which the inhabitants of this country have enjoyed so large a measure of security and of prosperity, and under which the British Empire has risen to so high a pitch of greatness and of power. It is my earnest and confident hope that by this Act of Parliament, the foundation is laid upon which institutions may gradually be raised, worthy of the great nation of British origin which seems destined rapidly to rise up in the Southern hemisphere, and to spread our race and our language and carry the powers of the British Crown over the whole of the vast territory of Australia. | I am, &c. | Grey.' Attached at the end of the dispatch is a leaf, also printed on grey paper, paginated in type to 2, and by Peel in manuscript 219-220, carrying printed transcripts of two letters: 'Sir Charles Trevelyan to Mr. Elliot', 'Treasury Chambers, August 19, 1850', regarding 'the expenses of the Customs Establishment in New South Wales'; and 'Earl Grey to Sir William Denison', 'Downing Street, July 27, 1850', regarding 'the general principles by which the application of the Land Fund is to be governed' in 'the finances of Van Diemen's Land'.