Agency VA 2878
Crown Lands Department
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Date Range: 1853 - 1857
 
Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency
Establishment

Prior to the establishment of the Crown Lands Department, the Land Branch of the Colonial Secretary's Office (VA 856) had been responsible for the administration of matters relating to the occupation and sale of crown lands.

In 1853, F.A. Powlett was appointed Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands and head of the Crown Lands Department. The Department assumed responsibility for the management and sale of crown land and the Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands was responsible for co-ordinating and supervising the work of the Commissioners of Crown Lands who had previously been responsible to the Colonial Secretary.

The Crown Lands Department was responsible for the administration of all matters relating to the alienation and occupation of crown land including the sale of crown lands by auction; the granting of sites as reserves for public purposes such as schools, churches and cemeteries; the issue of Deeds of Grant for lands sold and for reserves; consideration of applications for occupation licences, tenders for pastoral runs, applications for permission to exercise a pre-emptive right to purchase part of a pastoral run; the payment of licence fees and the prevention of unauthorized occupation of crown lands.

For further information about the responsibilities of Commissioners of Crown Lands see VRG 27, District Land Offices.

The administrative unit under the control of the Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands was known by a number of other titles including Crown Lands Office, Department of Crown Lands and Department of the Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands. Until the achievement of responsible government in 1855, the entire business of the colony was conducted either directly or indirectly through the Colonial Secretary's Office (VA 856) and the head of the Crown Lands Department was thus responsible to the Colonial Secretary. Although the Crown Lands Department did not become directly responsible to the Surveyor General until his appointment to the Ministry in 1855, the Department has been placed in the Lands record group (VRG 18) from its establishment in 1853 because the administration of the lands functions for which it was responsible can be clearly differentiated from this time.

Amalgamation under Board of Land and Works

In 1857 the Board of Land and Works (VA 744) was established because it was considered that the administration of public lands and public works could be more effectually and economically managed if responsibility for these matters was consolidated. The Crown Lands Department was effectively amalgamated with the Surveyor General's Department (VA 2921) to form the Department of Crown Lands and Survey (VA 538) which was a sub department of the Board of Land and Works.

Location of Records

Although the PRO has substantial holdings of lands records for the period 1851-1904 many records remain out of custody.

For records of the Crown Lands Department, see also the List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.6.2 (Land Branch to Department of Crown Lands and Survey) and section 4.0.0 (District Land offices).

 
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Record series created by this AgencyRecord series created by this Agency
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Date Range Series Title Series Number Series Location Public Access
? 1839 - ? 1896 Inward Registered and Unregistered Correspondence VPRS 44 North Melbourne Part Open
? 1843 - ? 1875 Land Grants for Special Purposes VPRS 81 North Melbourne Open
? 1850 - 1980 Crown Reserves Correspondence VPRS 242 North Melbourne Open
? 1855 - ? 1940 Indexes VPRS 15923 North Melbourne Open
? 1856 - ? 1860 List of Land Offered for Selection After Forfeiture of Deposit or Land Unsold at Auction VPRS 13019 North Melbourne Open
? 1856 - ? 1984 Land Selection And Correspondence Files VPRS 5357 North Melbourne Part Open
1837 - ? 1972 Reports of Land Sales by Public Auction VPRS 11862 North Melbourne Open
1837 - 1856 Register of Purchasers of Town Land VPRS 102 North Melbourne Open
1840 - 1878 Pastoral Run Files 1840-1878 [Refer to Microfiche Copy VPRS 5920] VPRS 5359 North Melbourne Closed
1842 - 1990 Register of Grants for Special Purposes (Grants Without Purchase) [1842 - 1990]; Register of Pre-Emptive Right Descriptions [1852 - 1893] VPRS 14146 North Melbourne Open
1843 - ? 1934 Miscellaneous Correspondence Files VPRS 1016 North Melbourne Open
1844 - 1856 Selection Books VPRS 13029 North Melbourne Open
1844 - 1862 Return of Livestock and Stations VPRS 77 North Melbourne Open
1847 - 1984 Sale Contract Books VPRS 873 North Melbourne Open
1848 - 1883 Pastoral Run Registers VPRS 5825 North Melbourne Open
1849 - 1855 Minute Book (Surveyor-General )(1849 - 1855); Inwards Correspondence Register (Surveyor-General) (1851 - 1853) VPRS 1329 North Melbourne Open
1849 - Circa 1880 Lists and Descriptions of Land Granted for Public Purposes VPRS 14150 North Melbourne Open
1851 - 1857 Register of Land Purchases VPRS 15581 North Melbourne Open
1851 - 1859 Register of Crown Grants VPRS 11866 North Melbourne Open
1851 - 1860 Applications Register for the Purchase of Land Under Pre-Emptive Right VPRS 13016 North Melbourne Open
Functions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibility
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Date of Responsibility Function Title Function Number
1853 - 1857 Crown lands (public) VF 309
1853 - 1857 Crown lands (government) VF 310
Functions for which this Agency has or has had secondary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had secondary responsibility
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Superior AgenciesSuperior Agencies
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Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
Subordinate AgenciesSubordinate Agencies
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Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
1853 - 1857 Commissioner of Crown Lands, Westernport VA 2710
1853 - 1857 Commissioner of Crown Lands, Murray District VA 2711
1853 - 1857 Commissioner of Crown Lands, County of Bourke VA 4729
1853 - 1857 Commissioner of Crown Lands, Portland Bay VA 4737
1853 - 1857 Commissioner of Crown Lands, Gippsland District VA 4738
1853 - 1857 Commissioner of Crown Lands, County of Grant VA 4739
1853 - 1857 Commissioner of Crown Lands, Wimmera District VA 4740
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Date of Relationship Group Title Group Number
1853 - 1857 Lands VRG 18