Crown Lands Commissioners In Moreton Bay (1842-1859)
Dr Margaret Shield, Visiting Fellow 2017/2018


Crown Lands Commissioners were the first government officials to be appointed to regional areas surrounding the Moreton Bay Settlement after it was opened to free settlers in 1842.

This project examines the roles and responsibilities of the Crown Lands Commissioners appointed to administer the newly created pastoral districts surrounding the Moreton Bay Settlement from 1842 to 1859.  It features a series of maps outlining the boundaries of the first pastoral districts, and a selection of letters written by Crown Lands Commissioners. These archival documents illustrate the wide range of tasks involved in the administration of the pastoral districts and provide first-hand accounts of the difficulties that the Commissioners faced in the execution of their duties on the contested lands of the pastoral frontier.

They also provide an insight into the men who accepted the position. Their wide-ranging powers gave them control over every aspect of life on the northern frontier of New South Wales including the take-up of pastoral land, the administration of justice, relations with Indigenous people, exploration of the land and the provision of government services. Short biographies of five of the earliest Crown Lands Commissioners in Queensland can be found under ‘Biographies’ on this website.


About the author

Dr. Margaret Shield was appointed as a Visiting Fellow at the Harry Gentle Resource Centre of Griffith University in 2017 and has previously published articles on the formation and leadership of community organisations in Rockhampton and on Scottish immigrants in central Queensland. The current project expands on her research into the development of regional communities in colonial Queensland.

Dr. Shield was assisted in her research by Kaye Nardella and Bill Kitson from the Queensland Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying who provided valuable information and guidance in the production of the pastoral district maps. Deklan Kelly, an undergraduate intern in the Harry Gentle Resource Centre, transcribed some of the Commissioners’ Letterbooks held in the Queensland State Archives and the State Archives and Records Authority of New South Wales.