Letter from John Dunmore Lang to the Colonial Secretary of Queensland regarding the effect of the Crown Lands Alienation Act on immigration to Queensland Page 1

Fiery Scottish-born Reverend Dr John Dunmore Lang was a powerful force in pre-separation Queensland. In 1830, on one of his many return visits to Britain, Lang was struck by the prevailing poverty and became convinced that by careful selection emigration could reduce the problem and, at the same time, improve the morality of society in New South Wales. A strong advocate of separation for the Port Phillip district in the early 1840s, Lang directed his attention to Moreton Bay later the same decade. He promoted both immigration and the cultivation of crops such as cotton by small yeoman farmers. After failing to gain financial support from the British Government Lang arranged for three vessels to convey emigrants to Moreton Bay in 1848, the first of which, the Fortitude, arrived in January the following year. The immigrants found temporary accommodation at York’s Hollow, which was renamed after their ship and today is perpetuated in the inner-city Brisbane suburb of Fortitude Valley. Coinciding with the California gold rush, which saw large numbers of Australian colonists venture across the Pacific, Lang’s immigrants proved a boon to the Moreton Bay district although the financial cost to him was crippling. In 1854 Lang was elected as Member for Moreton Bay in the New South Wales Legislative Council, where he continued to agitate for separation, increased immigration and the cultivation of cotton and sugar cane. He returned to the fray in 1860, when the Queensland Government passed the Crown Lands Alienation Act with the intention of opening up vacant Crown lands for settlement. Largely through speculation the legislation was not a success, but the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 did encourage the cultivation of cotton. From 1865, when American cotton was once again exported to Britain, Queensland growers turned their attention to sugar. Lang’s vision was partly realised when this crop emerged as an important mainstay of the economy.


Discover more