David Collins

Government official
Arrived on: HMS Sirius
Left colony: August 1796 on the Brittania
David Collins was one of the early colony’s most important officials.

As secretary to the governor and judge advocate for all legal affairs, he was witness to some of the most important events of the new settlement, including the formal establishment of the future city of Sydney on Gadigal land by Governor Phillip. Collins recorded the experience in his detailed narrative, An account of the English colony in New South Wales:

In one of the coves of this noble and capacious harbor, he determined to fix the future seat of his government, it having been found to possess a sufficiency of water and soil… The spot chosen for this purpose was at the head of the Cove near a run of fresh water, which stole silently through a very thick wood, the stillness of which had then, for the first time since the creation, had been interrupted by the rude sound of the labourer’s axe… a stillness and tranquility which, from that day, were to give place to the noise of labour, the confusion of camps and towns, and the busy hum of its new possessors…

Source: David Collins, An account of the English colony in New South Wales, T Cadell Jun and W Davies, London, 1798.

Portrait of David Collins

Col. David Collins, R. M., Lieut.-Governor, J. W. Beattie, 1896. Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office