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The 1820 Settler Correspondence
 as preserved in the National Archives, Kew
 and edited by Sue Mackay

pre 1820 Settler Correspondence before emigration

ALL the 1819 correspondence from CO48/41 through CO48/46 has been transcribed whether or not the writers emigrated to the Cape. Those written by people who did become settlers, as listed in "The Settler Handbook" by M.D. Nash (Chameleon Press 1987), are labelled 1820 Settler and the names of actual settlers in the text appear in red.

THORNHILL, Christopher, 1820 Settler

[Transcriber's Note: The correspondence below is signed “C.T. THORNHILL”, the initials standing for Christopher Thornhill – which may seem a bit odd. He was in fact born Christopher Thornhill CAMM and changed his surname by deed poll in 1803 in order to inherit his cousin John THORNHILL's estate as specified in the latter's will. Christopher was no stranger to colonial life as in the late 1700s he managed a sugar farm in Antigua in the Caribbean. Also in addition to presumably taking out a quantity of gun powder (see correspondence below) he also shipped out a prefabricated wooden house, which in the end had to be erected on a plot of land granted to him at Algoa Bay as it was too difficult to transport it by wagon to his location on the Kowie River.]

THORNHILL initially entered into a partnership with William WAIT and Arthur BARKER to take a party of some 50 labourers and their families to the Cape, under WAIT's direction ...Towards the end of December 1819, when the party was about to board the Zoroaster transport, the Colonial Department was notified that WAIT had been arrested for debt and a writ to prevent his leaving the country had been issued on the application of a former business partner. THORNHILL was appointed head of the party in WAIT's place. Three weeks later, however, with the Zoroaster still lying at Deptford, WAIT managed to settle his affairs and obtain his release. THORNHILL was unwilling to place himself and his share of the party's finances again under WAIT's direction, and a quarrel developed that the Colonial Department was called upon to settle by arbitration. An official was sent from Downing Street to Deptford to dissolve the partnership and divide the party into two separate units, and the settlers on board were given the choice of which master they would serve ...” From The Settler Handbook by M.D.Nash



National Archives, Kew CO48/46, 137

31 Red Lion Square

5th October 1819


Some Gentlemen with myself who possess some capital, would emigrate to the Cape, and engage to complete the full complement of men allowed to be put into one ship; if we can be allowed to proceed with the Transport to a port in Scotland, so as to save expences to the families going out – every necessary reference will be given should this proposal be approved: your answer will oblige.


Your most obedient servant





National Archives, Kew CO48/46, 172-173

31 Red Lion Square

21st December 1819


I beg leave to refer you to Mr. WAIT's list of persons about to embark to Southern Africa, amongst the number of whom you will find my surname.

Having understood that that Gentleman was a man of property I entered into an agreement with him to advance half of the deposit to be placed in the hands of his Majesty's Government and to share equally with him in the Grant of Land. Agreeable to this arrangement I advanced £300 towards the deposit for which I have Mr. WAIT's acknowledgment and I have received considerable expence in making other necessary arrangements for this undertaking. I now find unfortunately that Mr. WAIT has been prevented by legal process from embarking and that some application is intended to be made to his Majesty's Government relating to his deposit.

Under these circumstances I hope you will excuse my addressing you on the subject and requesting the favor of your sentiments as to the course likely to be adopted by Government in consequence of the proceedings alluded to and what course I ought to take, as the party have received directions to embark on the 22nd instant.

It will be impossible for me without the promised assistance of Mr. WAIT to undertake the concern and it is now too late in the season to find any other person to supply his plan – but I should be very glad to arrange to take out the party next season if that can be permitted – should that not be the case I hope there will be no objection to my receiving back the £300 of the deposit advanced by me as the arrangement has not in any respect fallen off on my part.

I have the honor to be

Sir your most obedient and humble servant





National Archives, Kew CO48/46, 174

Red Lion Square

29th December 1819

Mr. THORNHILL requests leave to enclose for Mr. GOULBURN the Receipt for the Deposit given to Mr.WAIT.




National Archives, Kew CO48/46, 176

[the date, first paragraph and name and address at the end of the first page and signature are all hand written and the rest is a standard official printed letter]

[Letter sent to: Mr.WAIT Esq., Walnut Tree House]

Downing Street, London

16 November 1819


Mr. HILL of the Treasury has reported to me that you have paid into his hands the sum of 655£ being the amount of your deposit money.

I therefore transmit to you by Earl BATHURST's direction, a Letter to the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope which will ensure to you a grant of Land in conformity with the Regulations.

Directions have been given to provide you and your party with a conveyance to that Colony; and you will receive from the Commissioners of His Majesty's Navy due notice of the time and place which they may appoint for your Embarkation.

I am directed by Earl BATHURST to take this opportunity of acquainting you, that he feels assured that you will not fail to impress upon the persons who have placed themselves under your direction, the necessity of observing an orderly conduct during the Voyage; nor, does his Lordship doubt that you will cordially co-operate with the Master of the Vessel appointed for your conveyance, in enforcing implicit adherence to the Regulations established for the guidance of the Settlers, and which have no other object than to ensure their comfort and their safety.

I am, Sir

Your obedient servant,


P.S. If there should be any Naval Pensioners among your Party, I request that you would desire them, on their arrival at the Cape of Good Hope, to write to the Pay master of the Pensions at Greenwich Hospital, and solicit from that Officer directions respecting the Payment of their Allowances.




National Archives, Kew CO48/46, 180

31 Red Lion Square

31st December 1819


I have been informed that it is necessary to procure an order for the shipment of six barrels of gun powder about to be shiped on board the Zoroaster Transport, Captain THOMPSON, bound for the Cape of Good Hope.

Permit me to request the favor of your procuring me an order to that effect.

I have the honor to be Sir

Your most obedient servant


[Note from GOULBURN on the reverse of the above letter]

He must apply to the correct Board. Lord B cannot feel any necessity for his shipping such a quantity of gunpowder

3rd January



(see also 1820 correspondence M-Y at CO48/53)

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