Precautions against floods, 1817

This is Macquarie’s third warning to settlers about building their residences on higher ground as a prudent measure to reduce the impact of periodic flooding. Behind the very formal wording of an official order, one can sense his exasperation at their wilful persistence in building close to the rivers, despite the known risks. In setting out the towns he made provision for persons with farms to have an allotment in the town.

This time, in recommending the relocation of farms and the precautions against subsequent floods, he implies that unless they follow his advice there will be no compensation from the government in the future.

Source: NRS 1046 Colonial Secretary: Copies of Government and General Orders and Notices, 1810-19. 5 March 1817 General Order recommending relocation of farms and no compensation otherwise [SZ759 p.325-7], Reel 6038


Government and General Orders
Government House, Sydney
Wednesday 5th March 1817
Civil Department
The Governor’s official Communications
from the Interior within the last few
Days have excited in His Excellency’s
Mind the most sincere concern and Re-
gret for the recent calamities in which
the unfortunate settlers on the Banks of
the Nepean and Hawkesbury have been
once more involved, by the late dreadful
Inundations of those Rivers.
Whilst it does not fall within the Reach
of human Foresight or Precaution to be
able to guard effectually against the
baneful Recurrence of such awful Visi
tations, or to avoid being more or less in-
volved therein, yet when the too fateful Ex-
perience of Years has shown the Suffer
ers the inevitable consequences of their
wilful and wayward Habit of placing
their Residences and Stock-yards within
the Reach of the Floods (as if putting at
Defiance that impetuous Element
which it is not for man to contend
with); and whilst it must still be
had in Remembrance that many of the
Deplorable Losses which have been sus-
tained within the last few Years at least,
might have been in great measure a-
verted, had the settlers paid due conside
ration to their own Interests, and to
the frequent Admonitions they had
received, by removing their Residences
from within the Flood Marks to the
Townships assigned for them on the
High Lands, it must be confessed
that the Compassion excited by their
Misfortunes is mingled with sentiments
of Astonishment and Surprize, that
any People could be found so totally
insensible to their true interests as
the Settlers have in this Instance
proved themselves.
His Excellency, however, still
cherishes the Hope that the Calami-
ties which have befallen the Settlers
will produce at least the good Effect
of stimulating them to the highly expedient
and indispensible measure of proceeding to
establish their Future Residences in the Town-
ships allotted for the Preservation of Them-
selves, their Families, and their Property; and
that they will, one and all, adopt their Ha-
bitations on the High Lands cheered with
the animating Hope and fair Prospect of
receiving, at no very distant Day, their
late Losses, and securing themselves from
their further Recurrence.
Those who, not withstanding, shall per
versely neglect the present Admonition and
Exhortation to their own Benefit, must be con-
sidered wilfully and obstinately blind to
their true Interests, and undeserving
any future Indulgences, whilst, on the
contrary, those who shall meet this se
vere Dispensation of Providence with
manly Fortitude and unbroken Spirit,
may rest assured that their Exertions
and Industry will not only merit, but
obtain the favourable Consideration and
Protection of their Government.
These Orders are to be read during
the Time of Divine Service at each
of the Churches and Chapels throughout
the Colony, on the three ensuring Sundays
“Lachlan Macquarie”
By Command of His Excellency
(signed) J. T. Campbell

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