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The profitability of peasants: a Bigge question in early NSW

The profitability of peasants: a Bigge question in early NSW

Scholar Talks

Why did Commissioner Bigge oppose small land grants to emancipists? What were the consequences of his gentrified vision for NSW?  

headshot of James Boyce
1 / 1 event in this Scholar Talks series
1 February 2022 11am to 12pm


Zoom online: Free


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Sydney NSW 2000


In 1819, John Thomas Bigge arrived in Sydney to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into the efficacy of transportation and the future of New South Wales. Arguably his most significant recommendation was to end small land grants to emancipists. Despite opposition by Governor Macquarie, Bigge wanted land to be monopolised by a local gentry with convicts as their labour force. Why was this change in policy pursued and what were the consequences for the future of Australia?  

Dr James Boyce  

James Boyce is an independent writer and historian, and a Research Associate at the University of Tasmania. He is the author of five books including two multi award winning colonial histories, Van Diemen’s Land and 1835: the Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia.


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