A vellum document (338 x 453 mm), with substantial letterpress on the recto (and perfunctory docketing details on the verso), and the lengthy relevant details of the transaction in manuscript, variously signed and sealed, with the fragile official paper-covered wax seal undamaged.
Three vertical creases where folded for filing; a few minor creases to the edges; trifling signs of handling; an attractive item in excellent condition.
John Hamilton McLachlan purchased land in Wickliffe, still a small settlement (it may have even been larger in 1854) about 225 kilometres west of Melbourne on the Glenelg Highway. Hamilton is probably the Reverend John Hamilton McLachlan who emigrated with his family from Scotland and 'first went to Geelong upon their arrival in 1850, then to the Western District, [then] Brighton then Talbot - at the height of the gold mining era'; before eventually becoming a minister of St Cuthbert's Presbyterian Church, Brighton (information from the 'Victorian Collections' site online). The document is signed by La Trobe, Foster, and the Acting Registrar, Augustus Farley (6 March 1854). Charles Joseph La Trobe (1801-1875) was appointed the first superintendent of the Port Phillip District in January 1839; he arrived at Melbourne on 30 September that year. In January 1851 he was appointed lieutenant-governor of Victoria after the colony was granted its own representative government. 'In December 1852 La Trobe had submitted his resignation but was not relieved until 1854; he sailed for England on 6 May' (all biographical information from the Australian Dictionary of Biography). The ADB entry on John Leslie Fitzgerald Vesey Foster (1818-1900), civil servant, landowner and author, suggests that his signature is worth having as well. Shortly after his arrival in Sydney he 'travelled overland to Port Phillip in 1841 and in 1844 went into partnership with his cousin, (Sir) William Stawell, on a neighbouring property, Ratherscar; Foster also acquired land on the Maribyrnong River near Melbourne. His pastoral ventures brought him no great fortune but with his family background they identified him with the colony's conservative squatting element. Although overshadowed by Stawell and often ridiculed in the "Argus", he carved out a place in colonial society and in 1846-48 and 1849-50 was one of the Port Phillip representatives in the New South Wales Legislative Council'. He returned to Ireland in 1850, but in 1852 'he applied for the colonial secretaryship and in 1853 returned to Victoria to take up the post on 20 July. He served under Lieutenant-Governor Charles La Trobe until May 1854 and then acted as administrator of the colony until Governor Sir Charles Hotham arrived in June. In September 1853 Foster became a member of the committee chosen to draft a new constitution for Victoria. Determined to safeguard established interests, he and Stawell dominated the committee, and the Constitution, accepted with minor amendments, was skillfully framed so that its democratic features were more obvious than its conservatism. Foster's executive positions in a time of financial difficulty and goldfield unrest made him the target of much criticism.... Under strong pressure from Hotham Foster offered to resign on 4 December 1854; a week later Hotham accepted the offer ... In 1857 he returned to England.... He admitted that he would not have resigned had he foreseen the lasting resentment against him; clearly he was made a scapegoat for Eureka'.