Page:A colonial autocracy, New South Wales under Governor Macquarie, 1810-1821.djvu/153

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LAND, LABOUR AND COMMERCE.

1819 and 1820 had placed a severe strain on the colonial resources, for their rations had to be provided from the time of their disembarkation. Bigge urged that the old practice of sending salt-meat provisions sufficient to supply each batch of convicts for six months should be reverted to.[1] In 1810 the cattle, sheep and pigs in the settlement numbered 57,000.[2] In 1820 they numbered 178,000. The pasture lands in 1810 had covered 75,000 acres, and in 1820 they covered 334,000 acres. The increase was of course great, but the land was less heavily stocked than it had been, and Bigge's precautionary advice was probably needed.

So far comparatively few settlers had turned their attention to wool-growing. In fact for practical purposes Macarthur may be said to be the representative of the whole wool-trade of the Colony. It was he who first brought New South Wales wool to England, and it was on account of this wool that he received his grant of 5,000 acres in the Cow Pastures with a promise of 5,000 more when his flocks had so increased as to require them. Above all it was his triumphant success that stirred others to follow in his footsteps.

The first notice of New South Wales wool sold in England appeared in the Sydney Gazette in 1813.[3] "Ten or twelve packs" had been sold and had averaged 5s. a lb. The duty was then 7s. 11d. per cwt.[4] From that time each year some wool was exported. In 1818 it amounted to 71,299 lb., in 1819 to 112,616 lb. and in 1820 to 175,433 lb. The price in 1820 ranged from 10s. 4d. a lb. for one especially fine bale to 1s. 2½d. per lb. for coarse wool. The duty was then increased to 1d. a lb. and the freight varied from 3d. to 4½d. a lb.[5]

In 1819 Riley stated that the settlers in general wished to cultivate wool, but the Government offered them no assistance.[6] Both Macquarie and Lord Bathurst, in discouraging large estates, effectually discouraged sheep-farming. Macarthur, for example, had not received his additional 5,000 acres, and although in 1821 he had altogether 9,600 acres, it was not all in one place, and

  1. Macquarie to Bathurst at suggestion of Bigge, D. 11, 3rd July, 1821. R.O., MS.
  2. In round numbers.
  3. S.G., 17th April, 1813.
  4. S.G., 11th September, 1814.
  5. Bigge's Report, III.
  6. Riley, C. on G., 1819.