Until 1832 the small towns of England were ruled by a curious set of institutions. These included the local Church of England and its vestry, and the unelected and self-appointing local government. They also had vigorous campaigns for election to the House of Commons, and public voting, characterised by virulent free speech and the occasional riot. How would these institutions transfer to Britain’s colonies?
In 1856 the remote colony of South Australia had the secret ballot, votes for all adult men, and religious freedom, and in 1857 self-government by an elected parliament. The basic framework, of a modern democracy was suddenly established. How did South Australia become so modern, so early? How were British institutions radically transformed by Births colonists, and why did the Colonial Office allow it?
Reg Hamilton answers these questions with an amusing history of the curious institutions of unreconstructed Dover before modern democracy, in the period 1780-1835, and of the spirited and occasionally shameful conduct of colonists far from home, but determised to make their fortune in the distant colony of South Australia.
Part 1. Dover
1. Trouble at St Mary's
2. The Town and Port of Dover
3. The Ancient and Busy Dover Corporation
4. The End of the Old Dover Corporation
5. More Trouble at St Mary's
6. Civilising Dover
7. The Freemen of Dover
8. The Freemen Vote and Have a Party or Riot
9. Where Did Free Debate at the Hustings Come From?
10. The Liberties of the People
11. Crime and Punlishment
Part 2. Adelaide
12. The British Colonists Arrive in South Australia
13. The Glorious Free Press of South Australia Exposes the Corrupt Allocation of Bullocks
14. Why Was the Province of South Australia There at All?
15. The Aboriginals of South Australia
16. The Experiment With Democracy
17. Building the Colony
18. District Councils
19. The Brighton District Council
20. The Imperial Experience
21. The Coming of Self-Government
22. Colonial Australia Becomes ‘Respectable’ and Gains Assemblies
23. Conclusion: Brothers Become Cousins