The Settlers’ Muster Book 1800

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This item is of great historical significance. It is the earliest and most substantial surviving record of the colony at a critical stage of its development, little more than a decade after the landing of the First Fleet in 1788. These lists provide a picture of the early integration of free settlers with a population of largely time expired convicts. Through identification of land occupied by purchase as well as grant inheritance and renting they offer an insight into the economic opportunities available in those early days. The compilation is one of the most important documents from the earliest years of British colonisation, holding still unexplored opportunities for research.

This item is held by the NSW Parliamentary Library. The ‘book’ is in fact two manuscript volumes containing names and details of many of the early European settlers of NSW from the years 1800 to 1802: land and stock held by free settlers and emancipated or expired convicts in 1800; land and stock held by officers in 1800; persons (mostly serving convicts) off stores in 1801; expired or emancipated convicts and free people off stores in 1801; names of persons c1801; land and stock held by free settlers, officers or expired or emancipated convicts in 1802; convicts allowed to officers and others for their domestic purposes, who are supported by the public, at June 1800; servants employed by officers in 1800.  With additions they derive from the muster undertaken by Lieutenant-Governor Philip Gidley King in July-August 1800, the earliest surviving muster of European inhabitants of NSW. They include the names of property occupiers with information on their animals and grain crops, descriptions of household composition with numbers of women and children, and descriptions of the range of government activities.