Blind man busking, 1823

This letter from the Colonial Secretary to the Superintendent of Police requests permission for Joseph Love to provide for himself and his family through ‘busking’. No record of the response appears to have survived, but the request is likely to have been approved.

Life would have been precarious for someone with a serious disability such as blindness, in an era when welfare services were rudimentary. Joseph Love was born in the Colony in c. 1792, and was described as an ‘object of charity’ in 1821, when he was listed as receiving food from the government stores. These would have been meagre rations, and being allowed to play the violin gave him at least some opportunity to supplement what the government provided. His occupation was given as ‘blind man’ in the 1828 Census, when he was noted as living in Princes Street Sydney.

Source: NRS 937 Colonial Secretary: Copies of letters sent within the Colony, 1814-27. Copy of letter from the Colonial Secretary to the Superintended of Police, 8 April 1823 [4/3508, p. 91], Reel 6010


Colonial Secretary’s Office
8th April 1823
With every disposition to
forward the innocent recreation of
the Inhabitants of this Town, the
Governor has commanded me to
submit to the consideration of the
Sydney Bench, whether the enclosed
Application from Joseph Love a
blind man to play the violin until
Nine O Clock every Night for the
support of himself and his family
can be admitted consistently with
good police (policing)
I have the Honor to be
Your Obedt Hble Servt
F. Goulburn
Darcy Wentworth Esq
Supt of Police

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