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First Legislative Council (1824 – 1855)

First Legislative Council (1824 – 1855)

​​​The Parliament of New South Wales is the oldest legislature in Australia.  ​It holds records from 1824 onwards, when the First Legislative Council was formed, and covering the time during expansion of white settlement across many parts of Australia, New Zealand and Norfolk Island, up to the start of responsible government in New South Wales in 1856 with the commencement of a bi-cameral system.

For background historical information regarding this period, see also History of democracy in NSW.


​​Digital Archive

All available documents of the First Legislative Council have been digitised.  In total, the archive​​ contains over 6000 documents.  For further information contact the Parliamentary Library via the contact us online form.

These historical documents are accessible in the First Council archive​

The full archive comprises:​​​

  • Tabled Papers
  • Non-tabled papers, which includes correspondence of an administrative nature​
  • Votes and Proceedings
  • Reports of debates, a precursor to Hansard which commenced publication in 1879.


​​Reports of debates - From 1840, Sydney Morning Herald articles known as Reports of Debates have been digitised. These articles summarise the proceedings in Parliament without giving a near verbatim account as Hansard currently does. These are also published on TROVE, however the set included in the Parliament's digital archive is more accessible in the sense that the articles are also being indexed with key words.

​Tabled papers​​ - These include different document types such as annual reports, petitions, returns to order, official correspondence, special reports of inquiry and others. Papers were tabled in both hand-written and printed versions. Some printed documents also contain hand-written annotations.  The digital archive represents the state of the tabled papers at the time of scanning in 2015, with only a few exceptions where the Houses decided not to include some very large petitions in the scanning process.

​Non-Tabled papers - ​​For a large part of the period covered by the digital archive, incoming administrative correspondence addressed to the Clerk was stored and registered together with the tabled papers. The content may range from Members' requests for copies of certain documents, changes to Library arrangements, changes to smoking room arrangements, applicants seeking employment at Parliament House, and even employees requesting the instalment of an oven in the messengers' room.​