Australia antique map from Barclay’s Dictionary. First published in 1774, passing through at least twenty-four reprints and editions by 1851, this original antique print is from the 1840 edition. Lake Torrens is shown in hatched-lines to indicate that its actual shape was not actually known.
The text below is that used in my blog for Reach plc’s ‘In Your Area’ site.
On this day 21st. August in 1770 Captain James Cook formally claimed eastern Australia for Great Britain, naming it New South Wales.
However, the Colony of New South Wales was not founded until 1788, when it was established as a British penal colony.
Our antique print is from Barclay’s Dictionary c.1840, which marks in red the colony’s borders. Although if one reads the text following the east coast, you’ll see that ‘New South Wales’ covers a much larger area.
Indeed, upon its foundation, the colony covered more than half of Australia and included the islands of New Zealand, Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), Lord Howe Island (named after the First Lord of the Admiralty) and Norfolk Island.
Gradually during the nineteenth century the area of New South Wales was reduced with Tasmania being separated in 1825, South Australia in 1836, Victoria in 1851 and Queensland in 1859.
In 1856 the New South Wales Parliament was founded and two years later universal male suffrage, for 21-year-olds, was introduced at elections.
In 1901, five Australian states, including NSW, formed the Commonwealth of Australia.
Today the population of New South Wales represents almost one-third of the population of Australia, with Sydney representing almost two-thirds of the population of NSW.