The Bigge Bicentenary: Investigating Macquaries New South Wales CFP

18 June, University of New England, Sydney

Commissioner John Thomas Bigge arrived in Sydney to commence his inquiry into New South Wales on the 26th September 1819.  For a little over a year, he conducted an unprecedented investigation of the penal colony, focused on finding a means to combine “Punishment & Profit”, as the two main aims of the colonial enterprise.  But the evidence he gathered, his extensive interviews and correspondence, and the three volumes of reports he eventually submitted to parliament in 1822-3, reveal a far more detailed picture of colonial society, and these materials have been essential to our historical understanding of the Macquarie-era colony ever since.

To coincide with the bicentenary of the inquiry and reports, the Nineteenth-Century Studies Network, at the University of New England is organizing a symposium exploring the significance of Bigge’s Investigations, to be held at UNE Sydney (211 Church St Parramatta) on Thursday 18 June 2020.  Papers are invited to address any aspect of the inquiry, the evidence it produced, and its significance to historians of colonial Australia, and the broader British world, including but not limited to:
•       The investigative process and its significance for Imperial administration;
•       Bigge’s time in New South Wales and the nature of colonial society;
•       The politics of the inquiry in Britain and/or New South Wales;
•       Macquarie’s New South Wales as reflected in Bigge’s reports;
•       The impact of the Reports on the colony;
•       The Bigge archive and its value to historians;
•       Scandal and gossip in colonial Sydney;
•       The governmental imaginary, as reflected in Bigge’s work;

Please send abstracts of up to 500 words, along with a short bio to by Friday 27 March 2020. 
For queries about the symposium, please contact the organisers:  Dr Matthew Allen ( or Associate Professor David Andrew Roberts (