|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
Following separation of the Port Phillip District from New South Wales in 1851, a Surveyor General's Department was established within Victoria. Prior to separation, surveyors had received instructions from the Surveyor General's Department in NSW and had been employed within the Port Phillip Branch of that Department.
The Surveyor General's Department was administered by the Surveyor General who was also a member of the Legislative Council from 1851 to 1855 and a Minister from 1855 until 1857 when this position was replaced within the Ministry by a Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey.
The Department included the Surveyor General's Office, surveyors within the Field Branch, a Deed Branch, draughtsmen and lithographers and was essentially responsible for the conduct of surveys, the preparation and publication of plans and the geological survey. For information about the responsibilities of District and Field Surveyors see VRG 27 District Land Offices.
The appointment on 5 May 1856 of George Darbyshire as Engineer-in-Chief and Surveyor to 'Victorian Railways' marked the establishment of a sub-department of railways within the Surveyor General's Department. It was established within this Department because the prime function of 'Victorian Railways' was, at that time, the survey of proposed lines of railway.
Guardian of Aborigines (VA 513)
In 1856 responsibility for the Guardian of Aborigines was transferred from the Chief Secretary (VRG 26) to the Surveyor-General (VRG 18). This responsibility was assumed by the Board of Land and Works (VA 744) on its establishment in 1857 and became part of the Department of Crown Lands and Survey (VA 538).
Amalgamation under Board of Land and Works
In 1857 a 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 Surveyor General's Department was effectively amalgamated with the Crown Lands Department (VA 2878) 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 records many remain out of custody.
For records of the Surveyor General's Department, see also List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.18.4. (Surveyor-General) and section 4.0.0. (District Land Offices).