Sir Richard Bourke

Sir Richard Bourke (1777-1855), an army officer and Irish landowner, governed New South Wales in 1831-37, a period of rapid economic growth and population growth. Pursuing liberal and humane policies, he promoted religious tolerance and attempted to establish elective government and state schooling. His 1835 proclamation aimed to prevent squatters from assuming ownership of Crown land by purchase from Aboriginal peoples.


10 October 1835

Proclamation of Governor Bourke

The Governor of New South Wales, Richard Bourke, issues a proclamation invalidating treaties between squatters and Indigenous people under which the squatters sought to assume ownership of Crown land by purchase from the Aborigines. The proclamation affirms the British claim to have taken possession of the land. It reinforces the assumption, now known as terra nullius, that the land had previously belonged to nobody and could only be acquired through distribution by the Crown. The Mabo High Court decision in 1992 recognises the prior title of Indigenous people to the land.


Premiere entrevue avec les sauvages.
29 July 1836

Churches receive equal funding

Having witnessed the effects of sectarian intolerance in Ireland, NSW Governor Richard Bourke introduces the Church Act 1836 to provide subsidies to Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian churches on an equal basis.


Governor Richard Bourke.