The Bounty System
Extracted from the:- "Concise Guide to State Archives of New South Wales"

Few free settlers were attracted to the penal colony of New South Wales during the first thirty years of its existence, despite the free passages, land grants and other incentives offered at various times during this period.  As settlement spread and the proportion of emancipists and native-born increased during the 1820s, however, immigrants began arriving in greater numbers.  With increasing prosperity came a growing demand for skilled labour, and the Government responded to this need (and to the problem of the great numerical inequality between the sexes) by introducing a number of assisted immigration schemes from 1832 onwards.

The first of the assisted migration schemes began in 1832 when eight single women and eight mechanics and their families left England aboard the "Marianne".  Each single woman received a bounty of £8 and each mechanic was advanced £20 against his future wages. From 1832 to 1835, 3074 people received assistance at a cost to the colony of £31,028-6-9.  They were selected and ships chartered for them by Emigration Commissioners in the United Kingdom, and during the voyage they were in the charge of the ship's master.  In Sydney, emigration was administered by the Colonial Treasurer, Collector of Internal Revenue (and, for a short time) the Superintendent of Emigrants and the Immigration Board.

Female immigration was not persevered with and the Colonial Government sent Surgeon-Superintendents to act as Commissioners' selecting agents, while in 1835, employers acting through agents and the Commissioners brought out people with special skills.

The Government (or Wakefield) and Bounty systems operated unchanged until the establishment of the Immigration Office and the appointment of the first Immigration Agent in Sydney (James Pinnock) in 1838.  The Government system operated until 1840, and the Bounty system until 1845; and their costs were defrayed from funds raised by the sale of waste Crown land in the colony (augmented by the sales of debentures against future land sales from 1842) and by parishes and workhouses in the United Kingdom.

In 1847, the second Bounty system of immigration was set up.  The Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners were entrusted with the selection and conveyance of migrants, while the Immigration Board in Sydney decided whether or not shipping companies were entitled to payment for immigrants brought to the Colony.

After 1852, most immigrants who received assisted passages did so through relatives and friends.  For a short period after 1859, shipowners bore the costs of conveyance and were remunerated by the Board, and the small amount of government assistance that was provided was allotted by Legislative vote.  In 1861, the Immigration Office was abolished and unassisted immigration which had been growing apace over the previous 10 years came into its own. People were, however, still receiving assisted passages in 1896.

Immigration became largely a federal matter during the twentieth century, and although New South Wales was involved in administering some immigration schemes (such as post World War II British immigration), overall policy decisions (and the majority of archival records) remain with the Australian Government.

A Government Immigration Scheme - 1856
Extracted from Jenny Fawcett’s Genseek web site.

 There were a number of immigration schemes designed to encourage UK residents to migrate to Port Phillip (now the State of Victoria) in the mid 1800s. The following example of one such scheme was extracted from the Belfast Banner 1856….
Immigration Remittances


Persons wishing to bring their relatives and friends from the United Kingdom to Victoria, can secure passages for them in vessels chartered by Her Majesty's Government on the following conditions;-

1.   The persons to be brought into the colony must be in good health, free from all bodily or mental defects; of good moral character, sober, industrious, and in the habit of working for wages at the occupation specified in the application forms.  Children under the age of fifteen years must be accompanied by some competent person who will take charge of them during the voyage.

2.   The names, ages, relationships, married or single state, occupation, and addresses of the persons for whom passages are requested, must be furnished by the applicant according to the accompanying form:

- Address at full length of the place or town and street where living in the UK;
- Trade or Calling;
- Relationship;
- Whether Married, or Single;
- Age;
- Christian name and Surname at full length.

3.   The applicant will then be informed of the amount to be paid to secure the passage, and upon payment of this sum he will receive a certificate which he will forward to his friends by post.

4.   The amount to be paid will depend on the number of the persons to be introduced, their age, sex, occupation and other circumstances. It will generally be within the following limits:-

Under 1:  Male £1-£2  Female £1-£2
1-2:  Male £3-£4 Female £2-£3
12-40:  Male £4-£6 Female £3-£4
40-50: Male £8-£12 Female £4-£6
50+: Male £12-£18 Female £10-£18

5.   Should the persons sent for be unwilling or unable to emigrate, the amount deposited towards their passage will be repaid to the applicant in this colony on the receipt of the usual voucher to that effect from the Commissioners.  But should any false statement be made as to the age, occupation, character or condition of the persons to be brought to the colony, passage will not be granted and the money deposited for that purpose will be liable to forfeiture.

6.   Application forms and every information will be given, and deposits received, at the undermentioned places:-

Melbourne - by the Immigration Officer
Geelong - by the Assistant Immigration Officer
Portland - by the Assistant Immigration Officer
Port Fairy - by the Assistant Immigration Officer
Warrnambool - by the Assistant Immigration Officer
Port Albert - by the Sub Treasurers
Castlemaine - by the Sub Treasurers
Sandhurst - by the Sub Treasurers
Ballarat - by the Sub Treasurers
Avoca - by the Sub Treasurers
Beechworth - by the Sub Treasurers

and at other places by persons to be specially appointed for that purpose.

7.   Persons residing at a distance from the above places can obtain application forms at the nearest Post Office, and send them [fully filled up and signed], to the Immigration Agent in Melbourne and will receive immediate information.  The amount required can be sent to the Immigration Agent in Melbourne by cheque, or by order on a Bank or mercantile house, or by bank notes in a registered letter. Upon receipt of the remittance, the usual certificate for the passage of his friends will be forwarded to the depositor, and he will transmit it by post to their address of the UK.


August 1, 1856