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Petitions for the Establishment of a Municipality in Ryde
by Helen Patterson 

The Municipalities Acts of 1858 and 1867 provided for the establishment of a Municipality following the receipt of a petition of at least 50 householders resident within the proposed area. The petition would be published in the NSW Government Gazette. Unless a counter petition was received within three months from a larger number of householders, the process of creating a Municipality could begin.

A petition and a counter petition for the establishment of a Municipality in Ryde were presented in 1860 and 1861 and a successful petition was proclaimed in 1870. The three petitions that appeared in the Government Gazettes are reproduced on the next three pages. Apparent typographical errors are the result of transcriptions of the signatures by the government authorities at the time who obviously found some of the scrawls difficult to read. The names that appeared in the Government Gazettes have been rearranged into alphabetical order for easy reference. They show a “who’s who” of Ryde residents at that time.

The original petitions can be viewed at NSW State Records at Kingswood and photocopies are at “Willandra” and at Ryde Library Local Studies. 

Those residents who were illiterate signed with an “X” and had their mark witnessed. The apparent duplication of a name does not mean that the person signed twice – some of those people could have been cousins with the same name (usually if there were father and son signing the petition the son was differentiated as “junior”). Close inspection of the original documents showed that all those with the same names appeared to have different signatures. They were therefore different people.

Some residents appear to have signed the first petition to establish a Municipality in Ryde and also the counter petition against it.
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