This document changed the name Van Diemen's Land to Tasmania in response to a petition to Queen Victoria from the Legislative Council of the Colony. This change of name related not so much to legality, as to preferred identity. The new name 'Tasmania' signified closing the door on the penal past, disavowing it, and looking forward to a free, self-governing, future. The change of name to Tasmania was of great significance to those opposed to the continuing transportation of convicts.
On 23 October 1854 the Legislative Council had voted to forward a petition to the Queen to take the necessary steps to substitute the name Tasmania for Van Diemen's Land. The actual name change was, as directed by this Order, proclaimed on 1 January 1856.
The use of Tasmania as a name for the island dates from at least early 1820s. Godwin's Emigrant's Guide to Van Diemen's Land, more properly called Tasmania
appeared in 1823. The name in this context probably referred to the famed navigator, Abel Tasman. 'Tasmania' became popular in official circles from the late 1830, perhaps partly to avoid the convict associations of the official name. Thus it was the Tasmanian Natural History Society that met in Sir John Franklin's library at Government House.
Robson, Lloyd, A History of Tasmania
, vol. 1, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1983.
Shaw, AGL (ed.) and John West, The History of Tasmania
, London, 1981.
Townsley, Reynolds, A Century of Responsible Government in Tasmania: 1856–1956
, LG Shea, Tasmania, 1956.
This document is oversize, and folded along two edges to fit within a leather-bound volume holding a series of inward despatches and attachments received by the Governor in Hobart, from the Secretary of State in London.
On the top left corner of the first page of this document is a paper-covered applied seal (red pigmented starch) of the Royal Arms. At the bottom left of this same page is a noticeable inkblot. The colonial administration of Van Diemen's Land has noted in pencil at the top of the document '1666 To be published before the Proclamation'.
On the second page of the Order the words 'read at ... the Draft of a Proclamation' are underlined in pencil. This page is also crossed in pencil in the right margin. The Order is accompanied by the two-page draft proclamation.
This detail of the first page of the Order-in-Council changing the name to Tasmania 21 July 1855 (UK) lists the names of those present.
|Long Title:||Order-in-Council 8 September 1855 approving replacement of the name 'Van Diemen's Land' by 'Tasmania' as the name of the Colony|
|No. of pages:||3 + 2 page Draft Proclamation|
|Measurements:||37 x 23.5 cm|
|Provenance:||British Government. When the first government archivist was appointed in 1949, this document was Part of a series of records held in the Chief Secretary's Office vault which formed the nucleus of Tasmania's public records.|
|Features:||Paper-covered applied seal of the Royal Arms – red pigmented starch – on top left corner of first page|
|Location & Copyright:||Archives Office of Tasmania|
|Reference:||AOT: GO1/97 pp147–49|