21 December 2010
National Archives, Kew, CO48/56, 172
Jan 1st 1821
After the trouble you took with the Settlers sent to the Albany in South Africa it may not be unpleasing to you to hear from one who although he intends here to put a new light on the subject, presumes to point out what has occurred within his own observation.
After a long passage in Northampton Transport on board which ship we found everything necessary for our comfort and health we arrived at Cape Town March 2nd where I met with every attention from Sir Rufane DONKIN and the Government; on 2nd May we anchored in Algoa Bay after a tiresome voyage of a month, an encampment was formed for the settlers on the beach, who were
transported in waggons to their respective locations, which for the most part lay between Grahamstown, the mouths of the Cowie & Fish Rivers. On the 18th May I arrived at Blaukranze, an old military fort destined to be my future residence. The country we marched through from Sunday River was beautiful and I was gratified to find Blaukrantze surpassed any place I had seen on my march. The whole country is like a highly dressed park, plenty of good wood, pasture, water, and stone. I have since found good slate and clay. As the success of the undertaking depends on my constant presence I have little opportunity of going far into the country but from everything I have seen within twenty miles ride, there cannot be a doubt but the new settlement will succeed. Notwithstanding the failure of our wheat crop, the barley crop is good and if we had a cargo of English wheat sent out for seed before May or June, I think it would be of infinite service. The Colony requires a change of seed. Those settlers that brought out a small quantity of red wheat have a fine crop. The barley of the Colony will not make malt. I brought a small quantity of English barley and oates; they are both a good crop. The small parties around Bathurst (our new Capital) have made great progress but they are all
poor; some fishermen that have had the use of my nets on the Cowie have frequently been over the bar at the mouth even at low water. Their report is that the surf is not as great as at Algoa Bay and they make no doubt but small vessels could get into the river with ease. When once in the river
the largest ship could sail up several miles. This will be a great thing for us. All our flour and stores come at present 120 miles in waggons from Algoa Bay. There is only one mill in this part of the country. The expense of getting stones out from England deters us from erecting them. Do you
think Government will carry any machinery we may require (for that and other purposes equally beneficial to the Colony) free of expense. If so, I have written to my brother to send some out. It is my intention shortly to visit the Cowie mouth, when I will take the liberty of making my observations known to you.
I have the honour to be, Sir
Your most Obd and very humble Servant
National Archives, Kew, CO48/56, 184
Near Grahams Town
May 6th 1821
Having since my last communication to you visited the mouth of the Cowie River and rowed down it from the junction of the salt and fresh water about 15 miles, I again take the liberty of addressing you wishing to show to what extent I conceive the Cowie may be used as a port.
The Cowie River can only be navigable for flat bottomed barges about 15 miles, the road from the river mouth to Bathurst is so much shorter, being only 9 miles, I do not consider it will at present be used as a navigable river, but I do consider the port may be visited with the greatest safety. Small vessels with little draft, of seventy tons, may cross the bar with the greatest ease, and ride in perfect security, and there is not the least doubt from the report of the fishermen who cross the bar at all times in a little boat found on the beach that there is good anchorage outside the harbour for ships of any burthen. I trust Government will take this into consideration for on it depends the success of our arduous undertaking.
I mentioned in my last the failure of our wheat crop and the advantage of a supply of English wheat for seed. We have some lands ready to sow but not a grain of wheat fit to put into the ground. The Colonial Government have sent a supply from Cape Town but as there was the same disease all through the colony I fear we may have another year's crop lost.
I continue to be as much pleased with the country as ever. The permanent dwelling is not yet fit for my reception. With a party of 20 good workmen I thought before I left England I could build a house in a few months, but the timber is to be fell'd and saw'd, bricks made, slate quarried &c &c before the work begins, besides the necessary attendance on the farm, garden & vineyards and the very great difficulty we have had with our people. All the large parties of 100 are broken up, such a mixture of people never could agree. I am delighted I only brought farming servants.
June 8th – Since writing the above Sir Rufane DONKIN has visited us. He takes the greatest interest in our welfare. Had it not been for his very great attention many would have returned home. He visited the Cowie River attended by several of the heads of parties last week, he went in the little boat on the bar. At his return he immediately sent off two of the settlers (seafaring men) to Algoa Bay with orders to bring the Locust brigg & anchor her off the mouth of the river, we are all anxious for her arrival. She unloads most of her cargo at Algoa. So confident was I that the undertaking will succeed I requested some stores of mine may be sent in her. I may have the honor of being the first to land goods at our new port.
We presented an address of thanks to Sir Rufane for his very great care of us. We likewise presented two memorials, one relative to the Law of Succession; the other to the very insecure terms by which we hold our lands until they are finally made over to us. To both subjects I beg to draw your attention. Our inability to make a will is a great bar to improvment, many that I have spoken to on the subject, who like myself have children by a former marriage, will not expend any of their capital. I have without thinking on the subject sunk so much that my four children at my death will be greatly injured, it is out of our power to leave property intire. The Orphan Chamber seize everything and divide it as they think proper. The children by a former marriage are excluded receiving any share.
With respect to the insecurity of our grants, altho I am confident it is the intention of the English Government to make it over to us, yet from our ignorance of our boundary we cannot properly make improvements without running the hazard of having some part taken from us. A Governor may come out who may choose to move us to another location. I know this colony prevents all the people that have capital from making the use of it they otherwise would. Here I am again individually concerned, having nearly finished a good house, made an excellent garden, planted a vineyard & ploughed & cleared an hundred acres for tillage, for which I have gained the approbation of Sir Rufane DONKIN. I have not only no security that my children will inherit what I have accomplished in so arduous an undertaking, but it is even possible that I may myself be moved. I have mentioned my fears to Sir Rufane, who I am confident will do all he can for us all, but this is a matter that rests with the English Government. I hope what I have stated will not be considered as making difficulties, as the future welfare of my family (three females) depends on these two subjects. I trus you will excuse my requesting that you will further our objects as far as may be in your power.
Sunday 16th June - The Locust brigg is not yet arrived. We have had a violent hurricane, many houses destroyed, mine much injured, Sir Rufane returned to Cape Town on Friday.
I have the honor to be Sir
Your most ob't serv't