Page:A colonial autocracy, New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, 1810-1821.djvu/82

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54
A COLONIAL AUTOCRACY.

voyage to New South Wales must at all times interfere with a very regular communication".[1] In this case Macquarie's complaint had been made before the answers could have reached him, for his previous despatches had been very much delayed.[2]

With the progress of the trade of New South Wales and the increasing frequency of convict transports from 1816 onwards, the difficulties of communication were lessened. But it did not become less difficult to ensure that attention should be directed to each important detail, either by Macquarie or by the officials at Downing Street, who were occupied with matters of more varied interest. The need of such intercourse was urgent because of the Governor's extensive powers. While the greater share of colonial patronage remained in the hands of Ministers[3] the Governor administered the oaths of office, might suspend or dismiss officials, appoint justices of the peace, coroners and all minor judicial and executive officers. He had power to pardon all offences save wilful murder or treason. He had the custody of lunatics and administration of the estates of minors. He might raise troops or declare martial law. He could alienate crown lands, appoint fairs and markets, ports and harbours. He could make regulations for shipping and trade. By his warrant alone could public money be issued.[4] He sat as a Court of Appeal in civil cases. Over the discipline, distribution and labour of the convicts he had complete control, and over the whole Colony a general power to "pursue such measures as are necessary" for its peace and security. Over the navy he had no jurisdiction, save that its members when on shore were amenable to the Colonial Courts for all breaches of the peace or of colonial regulations.[5]

Instructions under the sign-manual or simply transmitted by the Secretary of State might at any time modify these powers. In practice the Governor was expected to refer all

  1. D., 30th January, 1817. C.O., MS.
  2. Ibid.
  3. i.e., the appointment of the officers on the colonial staff, judicial, administrative and medical.
  4. But it must be disposed of by him "for the support of the Government, or for such other purposes as shall be particularly directed and not otherwise". He had no power to raise money. See H.R., VII., p. 131, Commission, 8th May, 1809, and also Chapter X. later.
  5. Ibid.