The prospects of the Protectorate are anything but encouraging

In 1837 Lord Glenelg, in England, appointed a Protector of Aborigines and four Assistant Protectors to maintain constant contact with the Aboriginal tribes and to help impose a system of law and order upon both the indigenous and settler communities.  The idea was not well received by the Port Phillip authorities, and the squatters were hostile to it. Reproduced here is an extract from a letter by Dredge to Reverend J.W. Kenny discussing the hardships he has experienced and the lack of government suport in performing his official duties.


James Dredge, Assistant Protector of Aborigines on the Goulburn River, 1839-1840.


Accession number: MS 5244, MS 11625


From the State Library of Victoria's Manuscripts collection.


See the catalogue record for his item



...The prospects of the Protectorate are anything but encouraging, at present the duties imposed upon its agents are very onerous while the means necessary for their efficient performance are withheld, or afforded in such pitiful parsimony as completely to embarass them and render nugatory their most strenuous exertions.

To me it appears plain that such is its unpopularity that this Government intends its failure so soon as the blame and disgrace of such failure can be thrown upon the Protectors. If there was any chance of success for the sake of the injured Aborigines I could strive to endure the disgraceful privations to which myself and family are subjected. With regard to pecuniary emolument the most petty storekeeper in Melbourne is far beyond us.

Had I been told in England that the situation would have involved my wife and family in such disgraceful slavery I would have disdained the offer. Or had I undertaken it in the services of some charitable society whose funds would admit of no better provisions, but in which the sanctions of piety, philanthropy, and christian hopes would supply their holy aid, I might, for a while, submit.

But as it is, I cannot conceive that any obligations, civil or sacred reasonably demand such sacrifice of personal comfort, conveniance, health, and I fear, the life of my wife through constant and unaccustomed toil, not to mention also personal risk, religious privations, want of education for the children, and a thousand others, and that too in the service of a Government who spares no expense in the promotion of a favourite scheme...



Tarnishing the crown