Native Police Corps

Public Record Office Victoria
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Full description

From 1837 there were several attempts to recruit members an Indigenous force of mounted police (troopers). Eventually, in 1842, the Native Police Corps was established under the command of Sir Henry Dana.

In a series of instructions dating from 1848, the Native Police were directed to patrol the bush; to find bushrangers; to intercept suspicious persons on the roads and in the bush; and to check the passes of any person appearing to be a prisoner. From 1849, the emphasis of patrols began to shift toward patrolling the new gold finds in Port Phillip. During 1850 and 1851 the Native Police also acted as guards at Pentridge.

The Corps also carried messages to colonial outposts, undertook searches for lost settlers and provided escorts for travellers (including both prisoners and dignitaries and senior office-holders when ranging into unfamiliar territory).

In 1851, shortly before the Corps was disbanded, the number of Aboriginal troopers was 45, while European members numbered 15 out of the total of 60.

The Corps was disbanded in early 1853, after a period where its numbers had been reduced by factors including:

- the death of Sir Henry Dana, after which many Aboriginal troopers left the Corps
- the increased prevalence of tasks such as acting as prison guards
- the expanded employment opportunities offered by the gold rush

Data time period: [1837 TO 1853]

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