[* The anniversary of her Majesty’s birth might with greater propriety be kept in the colonies, particularly in New South Wales, on the 19th of May, the day on which it happened, than at any other time; the same reasons for observing it at a time distant from the king’s not existing there. This is attended to in India.]
Among other objects of civil regulation which required the governor’s attention was one to remedy an evil of great magnitude. Some individuals formed the strange design of making application to the governor for his licence to erect stills in different parts of the settlement. On inquiry it appeared, that for a considerable time past they had been in the practice of making and vending a spirit, the quality of which was of so destructive a nature, that the health of the settlement in general was much endangered.
A practice so iniquitous and ruinous, being not only a direct disobedience of his Majesty’s commands, but destructive of the welfare of the colony in general, the governor in the most positive manner forbade all persons on any pretence whatsoever to distil spirituous liquors of any kind or quality, on pain of such steps being taken for their punishment as would effectually prevent a repetition of so dangerous an offence. The constables of the different districts, as well as all other persons whose duty it was to preserve order, were strictly enjoined to be extremely vigilant in discovering and giving information where and in whose possession any article or machine for the purpose of distilling spirits might then be, or should hereafter be erected in opposition to this notification of the governor’s resolution. Information on this subject was to be given to the nearest magistrate, who was to send the earliest notice in his power to the judge-advocate at Sydney.
In pursuance of these directions several stills were found and destroyed, to the great regret of the owners, who from a bushel of wheat (worth at the public store ten shillings) distilled a gallon of a new and poisonous spirit, which they retailed directly from the still at five shillings per quart bottle, and sometimes more. This was not merely paid away for labour, as was pretended, but sold for the purposes of intoxication to whoever would bring ready money.
Little or no attention having been paid to the order issued in October last respecting removing the paling about the stream, the governor found it necessary to repeat it, and to declare in public orders, ’to every description of persons, that when an order was given by him, it was given to be obeyed.’ This had become absolutely necessary, as there were some who, in open defiance of his directions, not only still opened the paling, but took with dirty vessels the water which they wanted above the tanks, thereby disturbing and polluting the whole stream below.