Licensing newspapers | State Library of New South Wales

Licensing newspapers

According to Chief Justice Forbes, Governor Arthur of Van Diemen's Land had no power to license newspapers nor impose duties. However, Governor Darling pressed for the same laws to come into effect in New South Wales. He attempted to legislate despite opposition from Forbes.

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Letter from Governor Darling to Chief Justice Forbes, 2 April 1827. Francis Forbes - Correspondence maily relating to liberty of the press, 1825-1828, Manuscript, A748. 

Transcript, Letter from Governor Darling to Chief Justice Forbes, 2 April 1827 and reply, Manuscript, A748

[Page 38]
Private and Confidential

Governt House 2nd April, 1827

My dear Judge,  The result of the Trial for Libel, which took place last week, has induced me to think, that measures for restraining the Press, cannot with safety to the Colony, be any longer delayed – that trial has furnished ample proof, if the reports in the Newspapers be correct, that there are Individuals here, who do not pay much regard

His Honor
Chief Justice Forbes

[Page 39]

 to the sacred nature of an Oath – It must therefore be difficult, if not impossible under present circumstances, to identify the Editors with their papers, while the greatest danger may be apprehended from the scandalous and seditious nature of the Libels and Statements they are in the habit of publishing – The period is now past, which you thought, when I consulted you last, it would be prudent

[Page 40]

should expire, previous to any steps being taken – and the intemperate tone of the papers has increased to a dangerous, if not an alarming degree, since that time – I shall therefore be obliged to you to give the subject further consideration and let me know, how far you feel yourself at Liberty to sanction a Bill for carrying into effect the measures directed by Lord Bathurst, in his Despatch, dated the 12 July 1825.

I should then propose

[Page 41]

having a Bill prepared, and should submit the subject to the Executive Council.

I remain, My dear Judge,
Most sincerely Yours
Signed Ra Darling.

2nd April 1827
(re draft Bill)

Copy of answer

2.d April 1827

My dear Sir,

I shall be quite ready to certify any Ordinance which you may desire to be prepared, and to have laid before me, so far as I am authorized by law.

I beg to remind your Excellency that I have now been sitting, without intermission, for upwards of two months, in the Supreme Court, and I am quite worn out – I shall not be able to attend Council after tomorrow, until I can recruit my health by the only means I have found effectual, country air, and relaxation from the arduous business of the Court

I beg to remain
My dear Sir,  Fs.

> Read more about the correspondence in the Library's catalogue catalogue link