Guide to the papers of the Sanford family (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Sanford Family
Papers of the Sanford family (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1851 - 1883
Collection Number
56 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 contribution 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 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Correspondence 1851-1854, between W.A. Sanford and H.A. Sanford, and with their family in England. Some of the letters describe conditions in Fremantle. Letters 1851-1855, 1883, received by W.A. Sanford in his position as Colonial Secretary and after his return to England. They deal with education, the churches, customs, immigration, convicts and aborigines. Correspondents include Governor Charles Fitzgerald, Rev. James Brown, W. Cowan and M.W. Clifton, Dr. W. Harvey, Captain E.Y. Henderson, John W. Sillifant, Ellen Layton, Mr Rochester, Jane Tiphett, Thomas Brown, Rev. W.B. Brown, Waller Clifton, W. Hams and H. Campfield.

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 as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1962 (AJCP Reel: M386). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

The papers were filmed from right to left on the reel, with the title page and list appearing at the end of the reel.

Existence and Location of Originals

Private residence: Lord Methuen, Wiltshire, England.

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.

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 records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.

Advisory Statement

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 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.


Army officers; British Ladies Female Emigrant Society; Brown, James, Rev.; Brown, Thomas; Brown, W.B., Rev.; Campfield, H.; Clifton, M.W.; Convicts: Western Australia; Cowan, W.; Customs and excise; Education; Emigration and immigration; Exploration: land; Fitzgerald, Charles; Fremantle, Western Australia; Harris, W.; Harvey, W., Dr; Henderson, Sir Edmund Y.W.; Indigenous Australians: Western Australia; Layton, Ellen; Mines and mining; Officials; Port Gregory, Western Australia; Rochester, Mr; Sanford Family; Sanford, Henry A.; Sanford, William A.; Sillivant, John W.; Tiphett, Jane; Toodyay, Western Australia; Western Australia; Western Australia: education; Western Australia: immigration to; Western Australis: politics and government; Whales and whaling; Women: emigration


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 405, p. 156

Biographical / Historical

William Ayshford Sanford (1818-1902) was the son of Edward Sanford and his wife Henrietta (d. 1836) of Nynehead Court, Wellington, Somerset. The Sanford Family had owned Nynehead Court since 1599. William was educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge. In August 1851 he was appointed Colonial Secretary of Western Australia. He arrived in Perth on the barque Anna Robertson in December 1851. As Colonial Secretary, he was the most senior official in the colony under the governor, Captain Charles Fitzgerald. He had a lifelong interest in natural history, archaeology and architecture. In 1853 he took up land at Port Gregory, had a share in neighbouring lead mines and in 1854-55 was engaged in whaling. He also held the offices of Magistrate and Sub-Collector of Customs in Western Australia. He resigned in July 1855 and returned to England, where he married Sarah Seymour in 1857. On the death of his father in 1871, Sanford inherited the family estates in Somerset and Devon. He was Deputy Lieutenant for Somerset. He took a great interest in the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society and was president of the Somerset Agricultural Association. His daughter Mary married Field Marshal Paul Methuen, 3rd Baron Methuen.

Henry Ayshford Sanford (1822-1905), the brother of William Sanford, enlisted in the 43rd Regiment in 1840. He was promoted to the rank of captain in 1850. Having taken leave from the Army, he sailed to Western Australia in the barque Dido, arriving in Fremantle in November 1851. He was placed in charge of building a town and the making of 30 miles of road near Toodyay, West Australia, in 1852. In 1853 he was appointed to take charge of the Port Gregory Hiring Station, as well as Sub Collector of Customs and District Registrar of the port. He resigned from the Army in December 1854 in order to pursue his business and farming activities. 'Lynton', his house at Port Gregory, was named after a village in Devon where he had lived. Sanford returned to England in 1857 and in 1859 he married Emily Somerset, the daughter of Lord Granville Somerset. In later years they lived at Waltham House, near Chelmsford, Essex. He was a lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Buckinghamshire Militia.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Letters from William and Henry Sanford to members of their family, 1851 - 1853

1 item

The letters were written to their father Edward Sanford, their grandmother Mary Sanford and their cousin Caroline Sanford. The letters from William, written from Perth, refer to his voyage from England, his first impressions of Perth, Henry's appointment in the Convict Department and his later business activities, the climate, the colony's prospects, the usefulness of convicts as servants, and Captain Charles Fitzgerald, the Governor of Western Australia. The letters from Henry were written from Perth, Toodyay and Fremantle. They refer to his appointment in the Convict Department, the employment of convicts on public works, the climate, his life at Toodyay, mutual friends, and news of gold discoveries in Victoria.

Series 2. Letters from Henry Ashford to William Sanford, December 1851 - March 1855

1 item

The letters were mostly written from Port Gregory, but include some from Fremantle and Toodyay. They refer to financial matters, Captain Edmund Henderson, the Comptroller General of Convicts, the assignment of convicts, the opposition of old convicts to the arrival of convicts, news from home, ship arrivals and departures at Port Gregory, his business activities, debts, the Geraldine lead mines, stores, the shipment of wool and oil, whaling, a trip to the Abrolhos Islands, and his relations with C. Gregory, William Burges and J. Brockman. Some of the letters are crossed.

Series 3. Letter from Edward Ayshford Sanford, 1851

1 item

Edward A. Sanford (Woburn Abbey) to his mother Mary Sanford, 13 September 1851 (File 1)

The departure of his son William Sanford from England, well-equipped with tons of luggage; fears that gold discoveries in New South Wales will be prejudicial to Western Australia; views of Sir Roderick Murchison on likelihood of gold in Western Australia.

Series 4. Letters from members of the Sanford Family to William and Henry Sanford, 1851 - 1854

Letters to William and Henry Sanford from their father Edward A. Sanford (London, Brighton, Nynehead Court), their grandmother Mary Sanford (Lynton Cottage) and their sister Henrietta Sanford (Lynton Cottage, Combe Florey).

Series 5. Letter from A. Fagan, 1854

1 item

A. Fagan (Perth) to Henry Sanford, 8 July 1854 (File 1)

Thanks for his reference.

Series 6. Letters to William Sanford as Colonial Secretary, 1851 - 1855

Subseries 1. Letters from particular persons, 16 January 1852 - 6 April 1883

25 items
Edward B. Tylor to Sanford, n.d. (File 1)

Sends Victorian Government book on prehistoric dingo.

Henry Sanford (London) to Sanford, 6 April 1883 (File 2)

Visit to London of Thomas Burges and his wife from Western Australia; meeting with Frederick Barlee.

F.D. Wittenoom to Sanford, n.d. (File 3)
John W. Sillivant (Bunbury) to Henry Sanford, n.d. (File 4)

Arrival of William Sanford in the colony; seeks a government appointment in the Bunbury district; effects of influx of convicts.

Henry Sanford (Toodyay) to Sanford, 27 January 1852 (File 5)

Forwards letter from J.W. Sillivant requesting a government appointment; asks for cases of ale, sherry and claret; approves of Sanford's purchase of Reeve's house. (2 letters)

John W. Sillivant to Clifton, n.d. (File 6)

Requests that vessel call at Bunbury for Mrs Sillivant so she can avoid a journey to Fremantle.

John W. Sillivant (Albany) to Sanford, 9 May 1853 (File 7)

Seeks advice on his powers as a magistrate.

Charlotte Sillivant (Fremantle) to Sanford (?), August 1853 - September 1853 (File 8)

Complains of accommodation on vessel proceeding to Albany. (2 letters)

John W. Sillivant to Sanford, n.d. (File 9)

Financial matters; salary.

John Molloy (Vasse) to Sanford, 1853 - 1855 (File 10)

Introduces Parnell and his wife; need for a bridge over the Ludlow River and a fireplace in the cell for prisoners at the Vasse; requests a gaol and warehouse. (4 letters)

William T. Mends to Sanford, 23 January 1852 (File 11)

Sends an inventory of goods on the Champion.

Richard G. Meares (Auburn) to Sanford, 31 January 1852 (File 12)

Welcome to the colony.

Major Frederick C. Irwin to Sanford, 1853 (File 13)

Administrative matters. (2 letters)

Captain Edmund Henderson (Fremantle) to Sanford, mostly undated (File 14)

Organisation of Convict Department; employment of Engineers officers; appointments and dismissals; reconviction of convicts; remission for good conduct; plans of convicts to escape. (18 letters)

William H. Harvey (Albany, Melbourne) to Sanford, January 1854 - November 1854 (File 15)

Visit to the colony; decision to base his tour at Albany; transmission of botanical specimens; stemmed blackboys; state of roads; sends manuscript; exhibition in Melbourne.

John G. Griffith (Fremantle) to Sanford, 20 June 1853 (File 16)

Seeks appointment as immigration agent.

W. Cowan (York) to Sanford, 1853 - 1855 (File 17)

Difficulties with Australian Aboriginals at York; native institution at Mile Pool; need for special police in district; concealed firearms found among ticket of leave men. (5 letters)

Walter Clifton (Mandurah, Australind) to Sanford, December 1852 - February 1853 (File 18)

Sanford's visit to Mandurah; need for a bridge; recommends a carpenter; supply of books for school at Bunbury. (5 letters)

W. Pearce Clifton (Leschenault Cottage) to Sanford, 15 February 1853 (File 19)

Recommends sending a blacksmith to the district.

W. Pearce Clifton (Leschenault Cottage), 8 January 1855 (File 20)

Agrees to cut a spar for beacon at Bunbury; difficulty in obtaining flour.

Anne Butler (Perth) to Sanford, 11 October 1854 (File 21)

Refuses to lease a gravel pit.

Thomas Brown (Fremantle) to Sanford, 1 September 1854 (File 22)


Captain Charles Fitzgerald (Perth) to Sanford, n.d. (File 23)

Sanford's unpleasant experience as a cabin passenger; despatch of a vessel to Garden Island; question of appointing officers of the Engineers to command depots; employment of sappers on public works; inexperience of Edmund Du Cane; Peter Warburton. (2 letters)

O'Grady Lefroy (Perth) to Sanford, 25 September 1854 (File 24)

Governor directs that the pond near new school be drained.

Sanford to Eleanora Fitzgerald, 16 January 1852 (File 25)

Rules for the Ladies Committee. (draft)

Subseries 2. Letters on religious and educational matters, 1853 - 1855

7 items
Unsigned paper concerning education, 9 February 1854 (File 1)


Rev. James Brown (Fremantle, York) to Sanford, 1853 - 1855 (File 2)

Recommends a prisoner Andrew McNulty; management of government schools; building of a church at York. (4 letters)

Rev. T. Barry (Fremantle) to Sanford, 27 March 1855 (File 3)

His parsonage at Fremantle.

Rev. George P. Pownall (York) to Sanford, March 1853 - December 1853 (File 4)

Building of a house and school; difficulties with J. Smithies, Wesleyan chaplain; Native Institution at York; model farms; York Agricultural Society. (5 letters)

Rev. John R. Wollaston (Albany) to Sanford, 30 January 1855 (File 5)

Public thanksgiving for the harvest; possible creation of a See of Western Australia; recommendation of Archdeacon M.B. Hale as Bishop of Perth.

Bishop John Brady (Perth) to Sanford, 19 July 1855 (File 6)

Memorial of Roman Catholics of Guildford asking for land and help in building a chapel, priest's house and school.

Sisters of Mercy (Perth) to Sanford, 7 November 1854 (File 7)

Recommend petition of Bridget O'Brien.

Subseries 3. Letters on medical matters, 1851 - 1855

5 items
R.C. Elliot (Carnac Island, Woodman's Point) to Sanford, December 1851 (File 1)

Quarantine matters; salary. (2 letters)

J. Ferguson to Sanford, 12 May (File 2)

Certifies he has examined W.H. Jackson.

Francis Spratt (Perth) to Sanford, 9 June 1854 (File 3)

Requests rations as he is injured.

J. Horrocks to Sanford, n.d. (File 4)

Invalid in hospital, seeks conveyance to join a vessel at Fremantle.

W. Longdon (Port Gregory) to Sanford, 26 February 1855 (File 5)

States that Henry Sanford will recover in a few hours.

Subseries 4. Letters on private matters, 1851 - 1855

11 items
Mary Noakes (Sevenoaks) to Sanford, 19 August 1851 (File 1)

Congratulates Sanford on his Western Australian appointment.

Ambrose L. Goddard (Swindon) to Sanford, [1851] (File 2)

Prospective emigrants to Western Australia.

E.A. Webber to Sanford, 5 September 1851 (File 3)

Prospective emigrants to Western Australia.

James Harding (Fremantle) to Sanford, 2 January 1852 (File 4)

Cost of articles purchased for Sanford while he was aboard the Anna Robertson.

John Harris (Fremantle) to Sanford, 2 January 1852 (File 5)

Goods on Anna Robertson, the property of Sanford.

F.N. Armstrong (Fremantle) to Sanford, 28 July 1854 (File 6)

Collecting of birds.

W. Varley to Sanford, 7 January 1852 (File 7)

Declines dinner invitation.

Charles Evans to Sanford, n.d. (File 8)

Declines dinner invitation.

H.A. Carlhunt (?) to Sanford, n.d. (File 9)

£5000 from settlement trust fund of P.R. Bouverie invested in Sanford's name in a railway debenture.

W.H.P. Brown (Fremantle) to Sanford, June 1853 (File 10)

Purchase of his house in Perth by Sanford. (2 letters)

Richard McB. Broun (Fremantle) to Sanford, 1852 - 1855 (File 11)

Property transactions; inspection of vessels; customs matters; payment of duties; transfer of stores to Commissariat; plans for a church at Fremantle; appointment of a Shipping Master. (12 letters)

Series 7. Accounts, 1852 - 1855

Freight and carriage, 1852, 1854 (File 1)

Household and personal accounts, 1854 - 1855 (File 2)

Including account for rent, account for fishing tackle, a dog licence, an account for books , subscriptions, accounts for ale and cider, accounts for garden and building materials, accounts for clothes washing, general stores, grocer, milk, butcher, herding.

The general stores are arranged alphabetically by name of the retailer.

Official accounts, 1854 - 1855 (File 3)

Including a tender for sheoak shingles for the Commissariat Stores and Military Barracks, a tender for timber and an account for flour.