SQUATTERS & FREE SETTLERS
Early settlement on the Richmond generally involved squatting on land. An article in the Kyogle Examiner in 1947 explains the 1847 'Act' and the 1861 'Free selection before survey Act' (Trove 7.3.1947)
"The "Act" of 1847 granted "fixity of tenure" to pioneer squatters who, up to that time, had no permanent legal right to any part of their holdings leased from the Crown at a merely nominal rental. By this Act squatters were allowed the right to purchase at least 160 acres of land which enabled them to secure their homesteads, with all necessary improvements surrounding them, and thus they felt justified in erecting more substantial buildings, etc., than' the temporary "shacks" originally provided. Also the Act provided that Crown land matters be Vested in Commissioners, who had control of border police and had magisterial powers in connection with adjustment of disputes; doubtful boundaries, etc., within their respective areas. Oliver Fry was the first Commissioner for the Clarence and Richmond, though his appointment, dates from 1844, by which it appears that the Act of 1847 did not actually create the Commissioners, but merely gave them greater powers.
When the Lands Act, "Free Selection before Survey," of 1861, came into force the squatters had to face serious trouble and to devise ways and means of combating or circumventing, the menace of the Free Selector, who had now the right to free select any part of the squatters' leased run to which he might take a fancy. Various devices were used. In. cases where a squatter had sons or daughters (or both) they could themselves become free selectors and thus secure picked portions of the father's run; keeping it "in the family." Squatters also put on "dummy" selectors, old and faithful servants often being need' in this way, the employer finding the money and the employee fulfilling the residence and improvement clauses. Then there were "volunteer orders."
Members of the Sydney Volunteer Corps, When retiring after long service, were given an 'order" to secure a tract of land (40 to 60 acres, I think) in some "distant part of" the colony, subject to' certain conditions as to residence and improvements. Few Sydney men cared go far afield on to the land, but they sold these orders to squatters in the localities indicated - on the orders. As a case in point, in the early eighties Runnymede secured an "order" for a block up the Back Creek about four or five miles beyond Bentley. Mr. Edwards (the manager) had a shack and some fencing erected and the flat land ploughed. These "improvements" were really a farce, the land went back to nature , and to a grazing area as soon as it was secured. I am not certain that this is an exact description of the working of a "volunteer order," but it is not far out. It is fairly obvious that there must have been some dodging of the law, but how it was managed I am not able to say.
Squatters also secured land, where they could, by buying out selectors who had completed their three years' residential conditions. Occasionally selectors took up land on purpose to worry the squatter into buying them out at a good price. At Stoney Gully, on Kyogle, the Keniffe family so harried and impounded Mr. H. F. Smith's fat bullocks from unfenced lands, that eventually they became such a nuisance he was forced to buy them out to get rid of them.