Folio (approximately 353 × 232 mm), a single leaf (trimmed from a standard form, a bifolium with the centrefold blank, and the last page merely docketed), now mounted on plain paper (360 × 228 mm), with a small hand-coloured diagram of the block (showing the orientation of the land), and a paper-over-wax impressed seal, signed by George Gawler as Resident Commissioner, 19 January 1841. Other signatories are the Private Secretary, George Hall; the Treasurer, John Alexander Jackson; and Alfred Reynell (brother of John, patriarch of the eponymous wine family).
The document has a few horizontal creases where originally folded; the mounted document has been rolled up at some stage, and is a little curled; a short sealed tear to the right edge; a few minor blemishes near the top edge and the bottom portion of the seal, and some light overall fading (these are possibly a legacy from having been framed at some stage), overall, a very presentable example of a very rare colonial document.
Land Grant Number 639 is for 'Eighty-two acres numbered "903" in the Provincial Survey', purchased by 'James Warland and George Warland of Adelaide' for the sum of £2. Elizabeth Warburton, in 'The Paddocks Beneath. A History of Burnside from the Beginning' (1981), makes short work of locating the land in question in this leafy suburb about eight kilometres from the Adelaide GPO, and paying the brothers Warland their due. 'There can hardly be a family with deeper roots in Burnside than the Warlands, who settled there in 1838. James Warland (1796-1875), with his brothers from Wimborne in Dorset, took assisted passages to South Australia in 1837. Their first leaseholding was on Section 904, Clifton; then in 1840, having paid two pounds down, they were in nominal possession of Section 903 on the other side of Greenhill Road, bounded on the west by today's Wyatt Road. After his retirement Henry Warland built here, on land inherited from his father [George], a pleasant stone farmhouse named "Wimborne", which his grandson Eric Warland maintains at 6 Wyatt Road' (page 24). George Gawler (1795-1869) was South Australia's second governor. 'Disputes between the first governor, Captain (Sir) John Hindmarsh, and the resident commissioner, (Sir) James Fisher, over their respective jurisdictions had retarded the colony's development, so the two offices were combined in Gawler. Thus, as governor he became representative of the Colonial Office in the province, and as resident commissioner, representative of the non-governmental Colonization Commission which was responsible for the control of land sales, for applying the proceeds to the emigration of labourers and for raising loans until such time as the colony had sufficient revenue to support itself.... On 12 October 1838 Gawler with his wife and five children arrived in Adelaide in the "Pestonjee Bomanjee" and found conditions far worse than he had been led to expect.... The most urgent necessity, he believed, was to promote rural settlement. He persuaded Charles Sturt to accept the post of surveyor-general and, until he could assume office, Gawler himself took charge of the Survey Department, reorganizing it and conducting preliminary explorations. He also hired every available surveyor, including some of Light's former officers. In October 1839, to his dismay, he was ordered to dismiss them. The commissioners had appointed Lieutenant Edward Frome as surveyor-general and sent him out with a party of sappers. Gawler solved the problem by amalgamating the two forces, feeling justified by the increasing volume of land sales. In 1839 over 170,000 acres (68,797 ha) were sold'. Gawler produced results: within twelve months 200,000 acres had been surveyed, and by May 1841 mapping of 7000 square miles had been completed, and over 500,000 acres divided into sections. This rare land grant is evidence of Gawler's energy and zeal. Unhappily for him, history was about to repeat itself: his 'major weakness was his complete failure to understand political realities.... His recall and his successor, Captain (Sir) George Grey, arrived together on 10 May 1841' ('Australian Dictionary of Biography').