Page:A colonial autocracy, New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, 1810-1821.djvu/36

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8
A COLONIAL AUTOCRACY.

and gradually cast aside the chains of military government, that the full force of these restrictions came to be felt.

There was a second twofold division of an economic rather than social nature crossing that of convicts and free, the division, namely, between those who received rations from the Government stores and those who did not—between the "victualled" and the "not-victualled". To those who were "on the store," a ration of meat and grain varying with the harvests and the frequency of home supplies, was served out each week, and in 1811 Government provided 4,227 full rations.[1] As these included the half rations for women and quarter rations for children, the total number of persons for whose food-supply the Government was responsible was considerably over 4,000. The "victualled" included the civil department, the military and police forces with their families,[2] 1,347 convicts in Government employ, 80 land proprietors, the families of 40 of them and 90 of their convict servants. Rations constituted a great part of the remuneration of the small employees of Government, and in the lower ranks of the police force food and clothing formed the only wages. For the farmers the supply of rations was part of the system of land grants and "indulgences" to free and convict settlers.[3]

The establishment of these Government stores issuing rations to about half the population influenced strongly the agricultural development of the Colony. Government not only granted land and assigned convict servants, but was also the chief purchaser of the produce of farmer and grazier, and the Government price ruled the market.[4] Socially the stores in Sydney and in the townships were the chief rallying points for settlers and traders, who would come thither and loiter about, discussing the prospects of rain, and the laziness of convict servants, the findings of the Criminal Court and the struggle against Napoleon, the depredations of the natives on their peach trees, and the eternal glories of George III. and the

  1. In 1810 there were fewer rations served out, but it is impossible to find the exact increase.
  2. In a few cases the families were not "on the store".
  3. See later in this Chapter.
  4. In 1810 Government purchased three-fifths of the wheat grown in the colony. C. on T.