Page:A colonial autocracy, New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, 1810-1821.djvu/151

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LAND, LABOUR AND COMMERCE.

finally overcome in 1819, Bigge and Macquarie held consultations with leading colonists in 1820 as to the regulations for the trade.[1] These were published in 1821[2] and distillation commenced in 1822. Wheat, rye, barley, oats and Indian corn were to be used in the distilleries, but if on two successive days the price of wheat in the market was above ten shillings a bushel, the Governor might prohibit distillation from any grain, and peaches could be used as a substitute.

To prevent distillation falling into the hands of a few wealthy settlers only, the license to distil was issued at the moderate cost of £25, and stills with as small a capacity as forty-four gallons might be used. The distilleries might be established in any district, and it was hoped that the settlers would thus be able to dispose of their grain without having the expense of bringing it down to Sydney.

At the end of Macquarie's governorship, therefore, the future for the agriculturist was considerably brighter than it had been for the preceding ten years.

The other important branch of production was that of stock-raising. The Government ration included a pound of meat a day, and so constituted the chief market for the settler's supplies. The reasons against supplying the stores by tender were even stronger here than in regard to grain, for it would have been far easier to engross stock than wheat. The system adopted, however, was not quite the same.

The Governor issued an order stating the price at which meat would be received, and stock-owners then tendered a certain number of pounds at that price. Soon after the Commissary published in the Gazette a list of names of those whose tenders were accepted, the amount which would be received from each, and the dates and place of delivery. Only the actual owners of the stock could tender supplies, a rule enforced with some strictness to prevent engrossing and check cattle-stealing.[3]

For some time after Macquarie's arrival the price of meat

  1. S.G., 30th December, 1820.
  2. Regulations, 10th February, 1821. S.G.
  3. If a man tendered cattle for the stores who had not given in any returns of cattle at the previous General Muster, his tender was refused unless he could make some conclusive explanation of how he became possessed of it. See S.G., 9th January, 1817.