The selection of the period of New South Wales history covered by this book, of the years 1810 to 1821, may seem to call for explanation. The choice was not arbitrarily made, but was due to the fact that the publication of the historical records of the State commenced by the New South Wales Government in 1892 ceased in 1901 with the issue of the seventh volume of the series, containing the documents of the years 1809 to 1811. These documents consisted of official papers and a few private letters, and by their help the history of the Colony may be traced from Captain Cook's first voyage to the end of 1811. It was therefore obvious that further research should commence where this publication left off. By going back, however, to the commencement of Governor Macquarie's rule in 1810, the period is brought to a natural conclusion with his return to England in the beginning of 1822.
Very little has been written of the history of Australia apart from tales of exploration and travel. Each volume of the Historical Records of New South Wales, however, is prefaced by an introduction to some extent summarising the documents, so that an easily verifiable account of the history of the Colony may be obtained up to the end of 1811. But the documents are not well arranged, and the introductions are scanty and confused, and it is almost a matter of research, even before 1811, to gain a clear idea of the state of the country and the course of its development.