Governor Davey’s Proclamation to the Aborigines (1816)

Place Oceania: Australia, Tasmania
Accession Number AWM2019.1099.1
Collection type Art
Measurement Sheet: 45.7 x 27.9 cm
Object type Print
Physical description Handcoloured lithograph
Maker A.I.E
Place made Australia
Date made c.1866

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


This lithograph is of an early piece of government propaganda from colonial Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania). The print was probably made for the Intercolonial Exhibition, held in Melbourne in 1866. Despite the print's title the original proclamation boards date from 1829, and were authorised by Lieutenant-Governor General George Arthur, rather than his predecessor Thomas Davey.

The print is divided horizontally into four panels. The top panel shows Aboriginal people and Britons living in harmony. The second panel shows the meeting of the two societies; the British represented by the Lieutenant-Governor, soldiers, and a free settler or civil officer, while Aboriginal Tasmanians are represented by a chief, adults and a child. The lower two panels illustrate the application of British law, at least in theory. The punishment for spearing a settler would be hanging; likewise, the punishment for killing an Aboriginal person would also be hanging. The written anecdote at the bottom does not appear on the original boards; it seems to have been to help the audiences of the 1860s understand the purpose of the boards. The anecdote itself is an example of mid-nineteenth-century racism, casting an imagined "Black Jack" in conversation with the governor about the written proclamations.