Letters Patent establishing the Province of South Australia

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The Letters Patent establishing the Province of South Australia, dated 19 February 1836, was formally titled:

Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom erecting and establishing the Province of South Australia and fixing the boundaries thereof

and was presented to King William IV to formally seek the approval to establish the Province of South Australia.

The Letters Patent defined the boundaries of the Province of South Australia:

On the North the twenty sixth Degree of South Latitude — On the South the Southern Ocean — On the West the one hundred and thirty second Degree of East Longitude — And on the East the one hundred and forty first Degree of East Longitude including therein all and every the Bays and Gulfs thereof together with the Island called Kangaroo Island and all and every the Islands adjacent to the said last mentioned Island or to that part of the main Land of the said Province.

The Letters Patent included a recognition of the rights of the "Aboriginal Natives" to live within the lands of the Province of South Australia:

Provided Always that nothing in those our Letters Patent contained shall affect or be construed to affect the rights of any Aboriginal Natives of the said Province to the actual occupation or enjoyment in their own Persons or in the Persons of their Descendants of any Lands therein now actually occupied or enjoyed by such Natives.

This differed from the statements of the South Australia Act 1834, which described the lands as "waste" and "uninhabited".


The South Australia Act 1834 (Imp) legislated for the establishment of a settlement in South Australia, but did not provide specific directions with regards to how the province of South Australia was to be founded, which these Letters Patent, formulated by the Colonisation Commissioners, supplied.

These Letters Patent were adopted on 19 February 1836, and on 23 February 1836, or soon after, an Order-in-Council provided authority for the establishment of government in the Province of South Australia. The Order-in-Council provided for a governing Council comprising the Governor, the Judge or Chief Justice, the Colonial Secretary, the Advocate-General and the Resident Commissioner, with broad legislative and executive powers including the imposition of rates, duties, and taxes.

However, laws could only be proposed by the Governor and were subject to approval or disallowance by the King as advised by the Imperial Government. The Order-in-Council again expressly protected the rights of 'Aboriginal natives'.[1]

On 28 December 1836, Governor Hindmarsh issued a Proclamation of the new Province at Glenelg.[1]

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