Proclamation Day

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Proclamation Day is the name of official or unofficial holidays or other anniversaries which commemorate or mark an important proclamation. In some cases it may be the day of, or the anniversary of, the proclamation of a monarch's accession to the throne. A proclamation day may also celebrate the independence of a country, the end of a war, or the ratification of an important treaty.

South Australia[edit]

Charles Hill, The Proclamation of South Australia, 1836 (1856), Art Gallery of South Australia

Proclamation Day in South Australia celebrates the establishment of government in South Australia as a British province. The province itself was officially created and proclaimed in 1834 when the British Parliament passed the South Australia Act, which empowered King William IV to create South Australia as a British province and to provide for its colonisation and government. It was ratified 19 February 1836 when King William issued Letters Patent establishing the province.[1] The proclamation announcing the establishment of Government was made by Captain John Hindmarsh beside The Old Gum Tree at the present-day suburb of Glenelg North on 28 December 1836. The proclamation specified the same protection under the law for the local native population as for the settlers.[citation needed] The date 28 December as a public holiday in South Australia was modified[when?] to the first working day after the Christmas Day public holiday (i.e. usually 26 December).[2] Formal ceremonies involving the most senior current officials and politicians, followed by public celebrations, continue to be held at the still-extant Old Gum Tree at Glenelg North on 28 December.

The proclamation was drafted aboard HMS Buffalo (1813) by Hindmarsh's private secretary, George Stevenson, and printed by Robert Thomas (1782–1860), who came from England with his family on Africaine, arriving at Holdfast Bay on 8 November 1836. Thomas brought with him the first printing press to reach South Australia. The press was a Stanhope Invenit No. 200,[3] and was on display in the State Library until 2001. It may be surmised[by whom?] that, from the quilled text of the proclamation provided to him by the officials, it was Thomas himself who made a more striking layout for print, later most familiar to the public.

The colonising fleet prior to Buffalo consisted of 8 vessels which had first arrived at Nepean Bay on Kangaroo Island before being directed to Holdfast Bay on the mainland. The first vessel to arrive at Nepean Bay was Duke of York on 27 July 1836 which did not proceed to Holdfast Bay but instead set off on a whaling expedition.[4] Africaine[5] was the seventh to arrive to arrive at Nepean Bay (4 Nov 1836), discharging settlers at Holdfast Bay on 9 November 1836. Seven of these earlier ships preceded Governor John Hindmarsh on Buffalo to enable preparations in advance of his formal arrival on 28 December.

Thomas's wife Mary (1787–1875) published The Diary of Mary Thomas,[6] in which she described the journey on Africaine and the early years in South Australia. An extract from the diary reads:

About December 20th 1836, we built a rush hut a short distance from our tents for the better accommodation of part of our family... and in this place (about 12 feet square) the first printing in South Australia was produced.

One of the children of Robert and Mary Thomas was a surveyor who assisted Colonel William Light in the survey which led to the founding of the City of Adelaide. Another son, William Kyffin Thomas, inherited from his father the newspaper of the time, The Register, which his parents had set up. William had a son, also called Robert, who became senior proprietor of The Register. He was knighted by King Edward VII in 1909 when President of the first great Press Conference in London. A majestic statue of that king stands prominently outside the South Australian Institute building in North Terrace, Adelaide.

In 1876 Parliament decreed that the Proclamation Day holiday, a gala occasion when thousands descended on Glenelg,[7] would henceforth be celebrated on 27 December in lieu of the 28th, in order to make a three-day Christmas holiday. H. J Moseley, proprietor of the Glenelg's Pier Hotel, was the first and loudest protester against the move[8] which was rescinded.

Western Australia[edit]

Proclamation Day also refers to 21 October 1890, the day that Western Australia achieved self-government, with its own constitution and self-elected parliament.[9][10][11]

Proclamation Day was originally a public holiday, but its significance was overshadowed by the celebrations of the Eight Hours Day, which were held on the same day, and by 1919 the public holiday had been replaced by Labour Day.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Anderson, Margaret. "The Proclamation". Adelaidia. HistorySA. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Public Holidays: Public holiday dates for 2015, 2016 and 2017". SafeWork.sa.gov.au. Government of South Australia. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  3. ^ "Stanhope Press". Migration Museum. Government of South Australia. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  4. ^ Heinrich, Dorothy (2011). The Man Who Hunted Whales. Awoonga. p. 38. ISBN 9780646553009.
  5. ^ Africaine, boundforsouthaustralia.com.au
    Africaine (Barque ) - Colonists to South Australia in 1836, www.geni.com
  6. ^ Thomas, Mary (1836), Diary of Mary Thomas
  7. ^ "Anniversary of the Colony". South Australian Register. XLII, (9711). South Australia. 29 December 1877. p. 5. Retrieved 24 March 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ "Our Adelaide Letter". The Border Watch. XVI, (1371). South Australia. 23 December 1876. p. 2. Retrieved 24 March 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ "Proclamation Day". Government of Western Australia. 11 June 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  10. ^ "Celebration of WA Proclamation Day events". Government of Western Australia. 18 October 1996. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  11. ^ Western Australia. Department of the Premier and Cabinet; Constitutional Centre of Western Australia; Constitutional Centre of Western Australia; Western Australia. Dept. of the Premier and Cabinet (2002), Western Australia Proclamation Day, Constitutional Centre of Western Australia, retrieved 22 October 2017
  12. ^ Ruth Marchant James, Our Western Land : Foundation Day 1 June 1829 to Proclamation Day 21 October 1890 (PDF), Celebrate WA, retrieved 21 October 2017

External links[edit]