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

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.


National Archives, Kew CO48/44, 638

St.Georges Tombland


26th August 1819

My Lord,

In the present alarming situation of public affairs it appears to be the duty of every citizen to offer his aid, however feeble, towards the preservation of the vessel of the state – and a sense of this duty will, I trust, plead my excuse for troubling your Lordship with the ideas of a humble individual on the principal causes of the events which we are daily witnessing & the measures by which the impending dangers many be avoided.

I attribute, my Lord, our existing difficulties to the state of civilization at which we are arrived. In the march of society a period actually arrives in which the wealth of the community becomes vested in a few (by the operation of superior skill and industry) – the individuals possessing the capital of the state standing more independent of those whose only property is labor, than the latter do of them. The price of labor inevitably lowers till the remuneration of the laborer becomes inadequate to his comfortable support.

Your Lordship will perceive in this little more than a repetition of the sentiments of Adam Smith. I merely assume that the position of things which he infers must result from certain natural causes, has arisen in this country – and a reference to the wages of manufacturers in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Nottingham, Glasgow &c will show that the assumption is correct.

Of course I dismiss as foreign to the subject all idea of political causes providing these results, & smile at the futility of devising remedies by imaginary improvements in the political forms of society, which serve (as they have done and will do in all ages) as tools for demagogues and praters to work themselves into temporary notoriety & importance.

The only practical remedy for a redirection in the price of any article is a redirection in the quantitydiminish the supply & there becomes a relative increase in the demand. The inference is obvious – we must diminish the competition in the market of labor by removing part of the laborers – and as the cessation of hostilities crowded that market with a surplus of nearly half a million of hands, the necessity of depletion is most pressing.

Your Lordship will have already divined that I am about to recommend an extension of the plan which His Majesty's Ministers have adopted for colonizing the Cape – I think the measure a most judicious one, but we need one of more magnitude to relieve the symptoms of the complaint.

I venture therefore to suggest the propriety of His Majesty's Government taking up colonization as the only effectual means of affording relief to the distress which makes the artizan the recruit of such detestable and idiot leaders as HUNT, WATSON &c I implore them to apply to Parliament not for thousands of pounds but for millions – convinced that a luminous statement of the absolute necessity of the measure (a necessity proved by the mere fact of the country being burthened with 500,000 beings solely dependant on the poor rates) would ensure a ready acquiescence both from the Legislature and the people.

As to the objection of expense, it falls to the ground before the observation that there is no other way of reducing the poor rates, now exceeding 8 [or ∞] millions per annum. As to repealing the laws respecting those rates without providing the destitute paupers with the means of supporting themselves by their own labor, it is quite out of question – to say nothing on the score of humanity, the immediate result of such a measure would be a general insurrection of the starving wretches.

As some difficulty might occur in providing for great multitudes at one place, I respectfully submit the propriety of adopting measures for colonizing New Holland* on a similar principle with the Cape & perhaps the former might be a preferable spot because of the facility of obtaining supplies from India.

It ought also to be remembered that in the event enslaving Hindustan by any further convulsion in that country, New Holland would be a most valuable position to retreat to & its vicinity would enable us to trade with the asiatic continent to infinite advantage, besides that the genial climate of New Holland will allow of our rearing there every article which we now import from India.

The great difficulty in carrying these plans into execution could be the obtaining food & lodging for the emigrants during the first year – but no great measure can be resulted without overcoming great difficulties. At the Cape food might be obtained by traffic on the coast with the negroes, who have generally considerable herds of cattle – and our ships might run down the coast as far as Mwanamutapa [transcriber's note: a 16th century kingdom between the Save and Zambezi rivers] on the one side and Benguela [transcriber's note: a province of Angola] on the other – at New Holland a trip to India would bring rice &c in abundance – to say nothing of Borneo, Java and Sumatra.

For temporary lodging a few large barn-like wooden buildings would accommodate multitudes, especially if the males were separated from the females during the night – log cottages (on the American backwood principle) would soon be run up for permanent dwellings & the business might be much expedited if allurements were held out for the emigration of carpenters, smith &c. They might for example be allowed (over & above the usual allotment of land) an additional grant of an acre for every week's work for the general benefit of the colony.

On the immense benefits which would accrue to the state from a vigorous execution of this plan I will not expatiate – it may suffice to observe that a removal of the surplus population would nearly annihilate the poor rates, quiet the country, enable the middling classes to pay their taxes (by removing the pressure on their premises which they now experience from the necessity of maintaining the poor) and revive trade, by creating a new body of customers – whilst the strength, wealth & importance of the Empire would be increased.

But to effect these important objects & prevent the most terrible of all calamities, a servile war, we must export not by thousands, but by hundreds of thousands – the idea is gigantic, but if a few hundred are sent off weekly (by small barks from the various ports of the Kingdom) an enormous quantity may be disposed of in four or five years.

Soliciting your Lordship's pardon for this long intrusion, I have the honor to subscribe myself, my Lord,

Your Lordship's very faithful & obedient serv't


PS Canada may be useful to divide the stream of emigration & thus increase the facilities of procuring food & accommodation for the first year

[Transcriber's Note: * New Holland is a historic name for the continent of Australia. After the establishment of a settlement at New South Wales in 1788, the term New Holland was more often used to refer only to that part of the continent that had not yet been annexed to New South Wales; thus it referred to the area of land that is now Western Australia. In 1804 Matthew Flinders recommended that the name Australia be adopted in preference to New Holland, but it was not until 1824 that the name change received official sanction by the United Kingdom]

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