Guide to the Papers of James Coutts Crawford (as filmed by the AJCP)


M600, M687-M688

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Crawford, James Coutts
Papers of James Coutts Crawford (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1817 - 1880
Collection Number
M600, M687-M688
50 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) Online Portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948-1997.


Scope and Contents

11 volumes of diaries covering 1837-1864 (excluding 1849-1856). They contain detailed entries describing Crawford's journeys and places visited, as well as his work in Australia and New Zealand.

Letters to Crawford 1840-1875, relating to family and business matters and mentioning building activity in New Zealand, the Fitzroy mines and the Richmond Hill silver mine, Victoria. Correspondents include Capt. William Loring, J.C. Bidwill and B.W. Mountfort.

Two manuscripts entitled 'Drafts for Book Australia Section 1838-1839' and 'Reminiscences', perhaps drafts for New Zealand section of book. These drafts give fuller descriptions than corresponding chapters in his book, Recollections of Travel in New Zealand and Australia (1880).

4. Sketchbook covering a journey up the Wanganui River, depicting Maori people, settlements and landscapes and a collection of watercolours and drawings of Australia and New Zealand. Subjects include Glebe 1844-1849, and other parts of Sydney; Eton Vale, Queensland; Mount Egmont and Taranaki, New Zealand.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February-23 September 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed a the private residence of Brigadier H.N. Crawford, Fife, as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1954, 1966 (AJCP Reels: M600, M687-M688). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Private residence: Brigadier H.N. Crawford, Fife, Scotland.

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Further papers of the Crawford Family are held in the Berkshire Record Office and selections were filmed by the Australian Joint Copying Project on M713.

Finding Aid Note

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.

Advisory Statement

Australian Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Maori people are advised that this Finding Aid contains material and descriptive information which may be considered culturally sensitive and may cause distress, including names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. This Finding Aid contains terms that reflect authors' views or those of the historical period, but which may not be considered appropriate today. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context.


Diary; Artists; Australia; Bidwill, John C.; Crawford, James C.; Darling Downs, Queensland; Emigrant voyages; Eton Vale station, Queensland; Fitzroy mines, Victoria; Geology: New South Wales; Geology: New Zealand; Glebe, New South Wales; Hodgson, Sir Arthur; Loring, William, Capt.; Mines and mining; Miramar, New Zealand; Mount Egmont, New Zealand; Mountfort, B.W.; New Zealand; Paintings, drawings and prints: Maori; Paintings, drawings and prints: New Zealand; Paintings, drawings and prints: Queensland; Paintings, drawings and prints: Sydney, New South Wales; Queensland; Richmond Hill mine, Victoria; Taranaki, New Zealand; Wanganui River, New Zealand; Wellington, New Zealand


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 117, p. 42.

Biographical / Historical

James Coutts Crawford (1817-1889), the son of a naval officer, was born at Overton, Lanarkshire, Scotland. He was educated at the Royal Naval College at Portsmouth and served on several ships in South American waters and in the Mediterranean. He left the Navy in 1836 and in the following year sailed to Australia on the Coromandel. He made a number of journeys in the Sydney region and in 1838-39 was one of the first men to travel overland from Sydney to Adelaide.

In 1839 he made his first visit to New Zealand, where he journeyed from the Bay of Islands to Port Nicholson (Wellington). He bought a property on the Watts (Miramar) Peninsula from the New Zealand Company, where he established the Glendavar cattle farm. In 1841 he returned to Britain where he married Sophia Dundas, the daughter of Admiral Sir James Dundas.

Crawford and his wife sailed to New Zealand in 1846. He developed his farm, constructed a tunnel to drain Burnham Water, explored Wairarapa and took a strong interest in public affairs and relations with Maori leaders. The Crawfords spent a lengthy period in New South Wales, before returning to Britain, where Sophia died in 1852. In 1857 Crawford married Jessie McBarnet and again sailed to New Zealand. He expanded his farm and bought other properties in the Wairarapa and the Hutt Valley. In 1861 he was appointed provincial geologist and carried out a number of surveys in the country north of Wellington. He was a member of the Geological Society of London and wrote many articles on geology, botany, engineering and agriculture for the Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute. He was a member of the New Zealand Legislative Council from 1859 to 1867 and for many years he was resident magistrate and sheriff of Wellington. He had been a captain in the Lanark Militia and in 1864 was appointed a captain in the Wellington Militia. In 1880 Crawford published Recollections of travel in New Zealand and Australia. He died in London.

Item Descriptions

Series. Correspondence and other documents, 1840 - 1875

23 items

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M600.

Account of Crawford with B.A. Cunningham and J.R. Wilkinson, 29 July 1840 (File)

Concerning purchase of cattle, valued at £138.00.

William Hardy (Melbourne) to Crawford, 23 February 1841 (File)

Purchase of 2500 wethers; predicts that Sydney will 'go to Hell' if Port Phillip is separated from New South Wales.

Sir James Dundas to James and Sophia Crawford, 9 April 1847 (File)

Death of Crawford's mother; estates of Crawford in New South Wales and New Zealand should be settled; death of Sir George Gipps.

J.C. Bidwill (Sydney) to Crawford, 9 October 1848 (File)

Urgent need to receive Crawford's report on mine; encloses plan on tracing paper; another report suggests existence of gold as well as silver.

J.C. Bidwill (off Cape Byron) to Crawford, 25 November 1848 (File)

Salary of Gother V. Mann; refers to John Darvall, Stuart Donaldson, W.M. Rothery, Macarthur, White and Thomas Icely.

Henry P. Hill (Wellington) to Crawford, 10 March 1849 (File)

Doubts if Hervey will take [Miramar] Peninsula; advises planting grapes on flat reclaimed from Burnham Water; tunnel has suffered no damage in recent earthquake; improvements to the race course; news of race meetings; marriages of Miss Swainson and Miss Fitzgerald.

William Hardy (Muttamar) to Crawford, 11 August 1849 (File)

Thanks for help with Eunananarina; has found a station in 'The Levels' country north of Gundagai; De Salis has a station in this country; entertainment at Yarraminga; acquisition of terriers.

Gother V. Mann (Molong Mining Company) to Crawford, 1 May 1850 (File)

Acknowledges receipt of £60.

List of the original shareholders in Fitzroy Mine (1p.) (File)

Receipt signed by John Poynter for £33.18.0 received from David Monro acting for Crawford for land in Waitotu Town, 1 June 1858 (File)

Capt. William Loring (Sydney) to Sir James Dundas, 8 September 1858 (File)

Has traced William Page; plans to see Crawford in Wellington; difficult and dangerous cruise; difficulties with Governor Sir William Denison.

Capt. William Loring (Wellington) to Sir James Dundas, 10 March 1859 (File)

Meeting with Crawford and his wife; describes Crawford's property and Wellington.

James W. Balfour (Wellington) to Crawford, 27 February 1868 (File)

A dry dock; sends a sketch of the Imperial Graving Dock at Sebastopol

Laidley Mort (Sydney) to Crawford, 12 August 1868 (File)

Dry docks.

George Aickin (Auckland) to Crawford, 5 October 1870 (File)

Floating dock designed by Aickin.

E. Thackeray (?) (Kaikoura) to Crawford, 21 April 1872 (File)

Eradication of rabbits.

B.W. Mountfort (Christchurch) to Crawford, 30 July 1872 (File)

Uses of concrete for building.

Crawford. Draft of a letter to the Wellington Independent on concrete (File)

Herbert Wardell (Featherston) to Crawford, 31 August 1872 (File)

Sending information on 'the Peninsula' and the fight with Te Rauparaha.

B.W. Mountfort (Christchurch) to Crawford: concrete for building, 26 September 1872 (File)

W. Montagu Rothery (Carcoa, NSW) to M. Fitzpatrick, 6 April 1873 (File)

Belubula and Fitzroy Mines and interest of Crawford and J. Bidwill.

Receipts for goods purchased by Crawford in Wellington (3), 1872 - 1875 (File)

Description of Richmond Hill Silver Mine, Parapara Stream, discovered by James Washbourne in 1875 (File)

Series. Watercolour sketches and drawings

9 items

Archival History

These sketches are also reproduced on reel M688.

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M600.

Sydney Harbour, with the steeple of St James's Church (File)

Woolshed, Eton Vale, Darling Downs (File)

Forest Lodge, Glebe, Sydney (Crawford's home), 1844 (File)

Views of the Glebe (6), 1846 - 1849 (File)

Views of 'Glendavar', Burnham Water and Port Nicholson (5) (File)

Mr Bidwill's house, Wairarapa (File)

Church at Taranaki (File)

Wharekaka Station, Clifford and Weld's station, 1846 (File)

Views of Mt Egmont (2) (File)

Series. Diaries of J.C. Crawford, 1837 - 1865

11 items

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M687.

Diary, 23 November 1837 - 2 December 1837 (File 1)

Diary kept on a voyage from Campbelltown, Scotland, to Londonderry, Ireland, and while travelling in Ireland, including references to Sligo and Boyle.

Diary, 16 December 1838 - 23 April 1839 (File 2)

Diary kept on an overlanding journey from Sydney to Adelaide with a herd of cattle, including cattle belonging to Captain Charles Sturt. The expedition, led by Crawford and his overseer Coutts, travelled to Berrima, Goulburn and Gundagai, and then followed the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers and sometimes the tracks of Edward Eyre, who had made an overland journey several months earlier. There are references to visits to pastoral properties, books, an encounter with bushrangers, purchases of cattle, the landscape and geology, meetings and conflict with Indigenous Australians, continual searches for missing cattle, and the accidental death of one of the bullock drivers. At the end of the book is a listing of the expenses of the journey.

Autobiographical notes and diary, 1817 - 1845 (File 3)

The volume contains Crawford's reminiscences of his life, beginning with his birth in Scotland in 1817 and ending with an account of his voyage from Liverpool to Sydney on the Elizabeth (12 Dec. 1844-31 March 1845) and his impressions of Sydney after an absence of three years. The memoir covers his first visit to Australia and New Zealand in 1838-41 and includes a very detailed record of his return voyage to England (Dec. 1841-Sept. 1842), including lengthy stops at the Philippines, Singapore, Bombay and Cairo and his journey across Europe. It also refers to his return to Scotland and his marriage to Sophia Dundas.

Diary, 29 April 1845 - 20 October 1848 (File 4)

The diary continues on from the previous volume and describes his life in Sydney, news of warfare in New Zealand, a voyage to Newcastle and Moreton Bay (Nov. 1845), a visit to the Darling Downs and 'Eton Vale' and the departure of Crawford and his family to New Zealand (Jan. 1846). The New Zealand section refers to their arrival at the Bay of Islands, the destruction of Kororareka, visits to Auckland and Wellington, movements of troops and warships, fighting at the Hutt Valley, the building of a tunnel from Evans Bay to Burnham Water, meetings with Maoris and visits to their villages, travels in the North Island, visits to New Plymouth (Feb. 1847) and Nelson (March 1847), travels with Governor George Grey, Grey's interference in the military campaign, and the topography and geology of New Zealand.

The last section describes a voyage to Sydney (Nov. 1847), the death of Lady FitzRoy, a visit to Brisbane and the Darling Downs (Jan. 1848), travels in New South Wales, the Yass lead mines, the Legislative Council elections (July 1848) and a visit to the Blue Mountains and Bathurst (Oct. 1848). At the end of the volume are some notes about Crawford's life from 1817 to 1862, written in another hand.

Diary, 12 October 1857 - 26 October 1859 (File 5)

At the beginning of the volume are memoranda, copies of letters and extracts from newspapers, 1854-57. The diary describes the voyage of Crawford and his second wife from Portsmouth to Wellington (12 Oct. 1857-20 Jan. 1858), with stops at Malta, Alexandria, travels in Egypt, Aden, Ceylon and Melbourne, impressions of Wellington on his return, a visit to Burnham Water, land purchases, the commencement of work on a tunnel (March 1858), General Assembly elections, and visits to Lyttelton and Christchurch (Aug. 1858) and Dunedin (Sept. 1858). The 1859 entries are very brief.

Diary, 9 October 1861 - 31 December 1861 (File 6)

Written in very faint pencil, the diary records visits to Wairarapa and Rangiora and includes notes on the Wanganui River.

Diary, 8 January 1862 - 14 February 1862 (File 7)

Written in pencil, the diary covers a journey from Wanganui to Lake Taupo and back.

Notebook and diary, 1 March 1862 - 14 March 1862 (File 8)

Written in pencil, the diary contains notes on Manawatu, possibly for a geological report, and a few diary entries written in Wanganui.

Diary, 28 June 1862 - 22 December 1862 (File 9)

The diary records Crawford's work in his first six months as Government Geologist.

Diary, 26 December 1862 - 26 January 1863 (File 10)

Written in pencil, the diary records a journey from the Upper Hutt to Waikanae and the return journey following Beetham's Line.

Diary, 21 March 1864 - 16 May 1865 (File 11)

Written in pencil, the diary describes travels in Southland, including visits to Christchurch, Invercargill, the Bluff, Waipori and Lyttelton, and a voyage to Wellington and Napier.

Series. Manuscripts of J.C. Crawford, 1838 - 1841

2 items

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reels M687-M688.

Australia, 1838 - 1841 (File 1)

Recollections by Crawford of his first visit to Australia in 1838-1841, referring to the voyage to New South Wales, a detailed description of Sydney, a journey to Berrima and Braidwood, overland journeys to South Australia in 1837, the diary of his overland journey from Sydney to Adelaide in 1838-1839, his impressions of Adelaide and economic conditions in the colony in 1839, the naturalisation of German immigrants, an encampment at Mount Crawford, encounters with Indigenous Australians, and his visits to Melbourne and Adelaide in 1841. The manuscript was probably written when Crawford was writing his recollections, published in 1880, but only the account of the overland journey appeared in the book.

New Zealand, 1838 - 1841 (File 2)

The lengthy manuscript focuses on Crawford's first visit to New Zealand in 1839-41 and deals mainly with his observations of Maori society and the relations between Maoris and Europeans, particularly in the Wellington and Queen Charlotte Sound regions. It also refers to the topography and resources of these regions, early whaling settlements, the purchase of land by Colonel William Wakefield at Port Nicholson, relations between the first European settlers at Port Nicholson, Francis Molesworth and other early settlers, the literacy of the Maoris, and the town of Auckland. The last part of the manuscript is a detailed account of Crawford's journey back to England in 1841-42. This journey forms a chapter in his Recollections (1880), but his other early experiences in New Zealand are dealt with cursorily in the published work

Series. Watercolour sketches, drawings and photographs

37 items

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M688.

Australian sketches and watercolours (File 1)

21 items
Sydney Harbour and steeple of St James's Church (Item)
Eton Vale, Darling Downs (2) (Item)
Forest Lodge, Glebe, 1844 (Item)
Harbour near Glebe (Item)
Glebe, Sydney (6), 1844 - 1846 (Item)
A point in Rushcutters Bay (Item)
Near Mount Victoria, Blue Mountains (Item)
A hill not far from Berrima (Item)
Camp on the Murrumbidgee (Item)
Limestone cliff and shallow cave on banks of the Murrumbidgee, 8 miles from Yass (Item)
Murrumbidgee River showing stratification of the fossiliferous limestone (Item)
Sydney Harbour (3), 1849 (Item)
Parramatta River (?) (Item)
St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, 1849 (Item)
View from the wharf at Parramatta (Item)
Coogee Bay: view of the residence of Robert Lowe, 1847 (Item)
Sydney Harbour (Item)
St John's Church, Parramatta (Item)
[Edward] Darvall's house, Parramatta River, looking east (Item)
Parramatta River, 1848 (Item)
Granite, New South Wales, 1847 (Item)

Australian Pencil Sketches (File 2)

4 items
Boree Caves, New South Wales (Item)
View from Rothery's house, New South Wales (Item)
Main shaft, Belubula (Item)
View from T.H. Wood's house, New South Wales (Item)

New Zealand Views (File 3)

10 items
Burnham Water, Glendaver, Port Nicholson (Item)
Glendavar, with Cook's Strait in the distance (Item)
Port Nicholson from Kaiwarrawarra (Item)
Harbour of Port Nicholson looking towards the Tararua Range (Item)
Evans Bay and mouth of the tunnel from Burnham Water (Item)
Mr Bidwell's house, Waiarapa (Item)
Church at Taranaki, with Sugarloaf Islands in the distance (Item)
Wharekaka Station at Ruamahanga River, Clifford and Weld's station, 1849 (Item)
Mt Egmont and New Plymouth (Item)
Mt Egmont and parsonage, Taranaki (Item)

Sketchbook, August 1864 (File 4)

1 item
Sketches (63) drawn by Crawford on a trip up the Wanganui River, including portraits of Maoris, August 1864 (File)

Photographs (File 5)

1 item
Photographic portraits of Crawford (poor quality) (File)