Not sure? – ASK !

When you’re at that stage in your research that you’re sure something should exist but you just can’t find it – sit back and think quietly and logically – and if you’re still stuck – ASK!  I’m not simply talking about asking questions on Facebook – and don’t get me wrong I personally have had a lot of success on Facebook and hopefully helped many others with their questions.

I’m talking about asking experts – and sometimes more than one expert – two or more brains are often better than one!

I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog – Ask a librarian – it’s wonderful!  And there have been many other occasions where the opportunity to ask a librarian has been an absolute gold-mine.

This time I was stuck with some land records from the Public Record Office Victoria – VPRS 460.

I also made a big MISTAKE – I didn’t read and understand the description for VPRS 460: Applications for Certificate of Title.  I merely groaned and said … “Murphy’s Law – the ones I want aren’t there!”

I had quickly read the description that said …

Note that VPRS 460/P0 units 3213 to 30298 do not exist.

I had incorrectly presumed that the FILES I wanted weren’t there whereas the description stated that the UNITS weren’t there!

If you read the description now, you could be forgiven for saying I was silly not to read the next couple of sentences which were perfectly clear.  BUT I wasn’t that silly, I’m just grateful that PROV have since updated the description in the catalogue so others don’t make the same mistake that I did.

After I ASKED for help, the verbal explanation made perfect sense … part way through the consignment [P0], they had changed the way the Application files were catalogued – initially UNITS equated to boxes which contained numerous FILES.  From Application File Number 30299, each FILE was a UNIT.

The Application files EXIST – all the ones I’d grumbled about as “missing” were there!  My big mistake – I didn’t read the Description properly and I didn’t ASK!

And why are these files so important?  The contents can be amazing.

The ACTUAL Application files are currently in the Land Titles archives at Laverton – the General Law Library for the Registrar General Office documents.  The SUPPORTING documents are at PROV.  From the PROV description of VPRS 460:

If the researcher holds a certificate of title for the piece of land, then the application number may be marked on that certificate. If present, the number may be shown with the words, for example, “derived from application number 12345”.

This series consists of the files created to record the progress of applications to bring land alienated from the Crown prior to 2 October 1862 into the Torrens system of land registration.

VPRS 460 at PROV contains the details and background documents.  At the beginning of this blog is an image of a death certificate.  Why?  In VPRS 460, together with a Statutory Declaration they were evidence as to why the family of the late John MACKEN / McKIE had no claim to the land.  In fact the Stat Dec gave amazing details of John MACKEN’s life and work on the property in question.

Another property I was researching contained multiple documents including an Indenture for a Mortgage.  It was a LONG document to transcribe but well worth it when you find these amazing words:

portion of the said land has been and is now used as a cemetery

Not exactly what you expect to find but it had been claimed that two people were buried on the property.  Other documents in the VPRS 460 file also refer to this private burial ground.

Now do you understand why I love finding VPRS 460 Application files?

And I am so glad that I ASKED!




    • I think it’s because there are so many different ones that all need checking as there can be variances. For Crown Land ownership, there are three series at PROV – VPRS 16705, VPRS 405 and the jewel in the crown, VPRS 460. All of these are part of the Application File which is noted on the FIRST Certificate of Title if the land was owned before the implementation of Torrens Title in 1862. Clear as mud???

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