Letter to the Commissioner of Crown Lands

A letter form James Dawson complaining about the unresonable behaviour of a landowner.


James Dawson, Letter. 1849


Accession number: MS12458


From the State Library of Victoria's Manuscripts collection.


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Southern Cross Melbourne
20th March 1849

I lately had occasion to drive 48 head of Horses from Melbourne to my Station near Port Fairy, and on going to the Public House on the Little River, requested of Connor the Land lord to inform me where I could best depasture them for the night, remarking civilly at same time that there was not for miles a blade of grass.

He savagely replied that if I wished food for my horses he had plenty of Oat Hay and that the public had nothing to do with the grass which he paid a squatting License for and therefore had a right to conserve with his own stock – this assertion he accompanied with a torrent of Oaths and abusive language in which he was assisted by his wife, and in short their conduct altogether was so outrageous and disgusting that I would consider myself a wonting in public duty did I allow the matter to rest. I therefore beg to call your attention not only to the latter but to the injustice of allowing any publican to depasture a flock of sheep around his house thereby consuming the food which settlers and Bullock drivers trust to find at the usual stopping places, and which in this case compelled me to walk round my horses the whole night on the bare plain and with nothing for them to eat.  Next morning I was informed that Connor could have shown me an excellent bend of the River where I could have placed them with safety.

I would be sorry to make a complaint against any publican whose general conduct was good, but from all I can learn, Connor and his wife are very unfit persons for the business.

Will you therefore have the kindness to inform me what steps I can take to prevent their License being granted which I will spare no trouble in effecting,

My address is Kangatong, Port Fairy
I am Sir,
Yours respectfully
James Dawson.

The pastoral system