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Blog post from Sunday, 22 February, 2015

On this day, 22nd February 1791, the first land grant, to convict James Ruse was officially added to the New South Wales colonial records.

James Ruse arrived in Sydney on the First Fleet on the Scarborough. His seven year sentence was by then almost served as he had been on a prison hulk for years.

In November 1788, Governor Phillip selected Ruse to go to Rose Hill (now Parramatta), west of Sydney Town, and try his hand at farming. Ruse was allocated one and a half acres of already cleared ground and assisted in clearing a further five acres. He was given two sows and six hens and a deal was made for him to be fed and clothed from the public store for 15 months. Ruse’s farming venture was successful, and in February 1791, he declared that he was self-sufficient. Late in March 1791, Governor Phillip rewarded Ruse with the first permanent land grant in the new colony, consisting of thirty acres, including the area he was already occupying. However, the first land grant was only officially added to the New South Wales colonial records almost a year later, on 22 February 1792.

Deed, dated 22 February 1790 [1792], to James Ruse

SAFE / DLMSF 37 State Library of New South Wales

Presumed to be the first land grant made by Governor Phillip, comprising 30 acres on the south side of the Barrack Ponds at Parramatta, by gift to James Ruse. It is signed by Governor Phillip and four witnesses. It also bears the cancellation stamp of the Deputy Registrar General and, on verso, notice of conveyance of the land from James Ruse to John Harris for £40, dated 1 October, 1793 (date is mutilated)

The written date for the year, given as ‘1790’, is possibly a scribal error caused through omission of the word 'two’ but this assumption has been disputed. The deed undoubtedly supersedes an earlier incomplete one and does not invalidate the claim that James Ruse was the first settled man to receive a land grant.