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

Selected Settler Correspondence 1820 - 1837

Whereas ALL the 1819 correspondence was transcribed (see CO48/41 through CO48/46 at the National Archives), whether or not the writers emigrated to the Cape, here only letters by known settlers or their families, or letters of great relevance to the 1820 settlers, have been transcribed. There are many other letters in later files, thought not to be written by eventual settlers. However, if an ancestor is known to have emigrated after the 1820 settlers then it might be worth looking through the rest of the correspondence, which is arranged alphabetically. The relevant files for letters written in 1820 are CO48/52 (A-L) and CO48/53 (M-Y). Later files are labelled "Original Correspondence" followed by the year, and can be found from CO48/56 (1821) to CO48/186 (1837).

Unless otherwise stated letters were written to either the Secretary of State for the Colonies or his deputy. The original correspondence is filed in order of receipt. Here it has been placed in alphabetical order according to the surname of the writer, with letters by the same writer in chronological order, for ease of reading. Original spelling has been maintained. Reference numbers, where given, refer to printed page numbers stamped on the letters and will enable visitors to the National Archives to locate the letter more easily.

ROWLES, Thomas and Elizabeth, 1827

[NB the correspondence that follows from the ROWLES family cannot refer to the 1820 settlers Thomas and Elizabeth ROWLES. It is included here so that 1820 settler descendants will be aware that there was another couple of the same name at the Cape in the early 1820s]

National Archives, Kew, CO48/114, 400

15 Stratton Street

7 May 1827


I have the honor to enclose you a copy of the Memorial of the widow of my brother Thomas ROWLES presented to the Rt Hon. Lord Charles H. Somerset, Governor of the Cape of Good Hope praying for a Pension for reasons therein set forth and a copy of a memorial presented by my deceased brother on the subject of his wife from the alterations of the currency and a copy of his account with Messrs Coutts as evidence of the fact of his loss as stated in his Memorial. And I have to request the favor of you to lay them before the Right Honble. Lord Visct. GOODRICH.

I have nothing to add to the Memorials except that my widow sister mentions that pensions have been granted to widows of public servants in the Colony, viz

Mrs Henry ALEXANDER - English

Mrs. SHERIDAN - English


Mrs. Michael GIE - Cape

I have the honor to be Sir,

Your Most Obedient Hbl Sev't




National Archives, Kew, CO48/114, 402

Received May 7, 1827

To His Excellency the Governor in Councils &c &c

The Memorials of Elizabeth Christina ROWLES of Cape Town Cape of Good Hope Widow humbly sheweth unto your Excellency that the Memorialists late husband Thomas ROWLES was appointed to the Office of the Secretary to the Right Honble The Court of Appeals for civil and criminal cases in the Colony from the date of its original establishment, viz 29th May 1807, at a salary of £480 sterling per.anm and continued to hold that situation until the day of his decease which took place on 20th January last being a period of eighteen years & upwards, during the whole of which time he discharged the duties of the said office with the utmost regularity and greatest integrity and without quitting the Colony on leave of absence or otherwise for a single day. And Memorialist further sheweth that on the day before mentioned 20th January now last past her said Husband departed this life almost suddenly by which lamentable occurrence Memorialist and his two infant children [in margin a note: both girls] are deprived of those means of comfortable subsistence to the continuation of which they might have reasonably looked forward, her said husband being only forty nine years of age at the time of his decease.

And memorialist craves leave to add that her late Husband was allowed and entitled to receive certain Fees attached to the office of Secretary to the Right Honorable Court of Appeals from the date of his appointment until the year 1818 when such Fees were taken from him and carried to the credit of Government but no compensation was made to him in lieu thereof by increase of salary or by any other means whatsoever, so that in fact his income was considerably reduced for the last eight years and your memorialist also begs leave to bring to your Excellencys recollection that her late Husband sustained a very extensive loss and his severe loss by the reduction of the currency as fixed by the ordinances of the 6th June last, as will fully appear from a copy of a memorial herewith annexed, which was addressed to Your Excellency and containing an explicit statement of the individual hardship he was obliged to suffer through the adoption of that unexpected measure, and memorialist humbly and confidently concludes that the combined circumstances of this extraordinary & unprecedented case are such as will induce Your Excellency to take it into your favorable consideration and that this may in consequence of her hate Husbands long & active services and for the reasons above stated (he being the senior English civil servant in the Colony as memorialist has been informed every believes) obtain such a pension as Your Excellency may recommend to be granted to her through the proper authorities, and of which she so much stands in need, or that Your Excellency be pleased to take such other steps in the [promises?] as Your Excellency shall deem meet & the nature of her unfortunate can require.

And your memorialist as in duty bound shall evr pray &c &c

(Signed) E.C. ROWLES

Cape Town, February 23rd 1826




National Archives, Kew, CO48/114, 407

18 Hans Place

August 9th 1827


With reference to Earl BATHURST's Despatch to the Government of the Cape of Good Hope under date 23rd August 1821 authorising His Excellency in all cases in which a Civil Servant of the Colony appointed from Home may die in the execution of his duties, leaving a Widow or children under age, to make to the Widow or children on their proceeding to Europe an allowance equal to 3 months salary of the deceased Civil Servant, I take the liberty to state to you for the information of Viscount GODERICH that my late Husband Thomas ROWLES Esq held the office of Secretary to the Court of Appeals at the Cape ever since the establishment of that court in the year 1807 with a salary of £480 sterling per annum until the period of his demise, which took place on the 20th January 1826 he having died in the execution of his duties.

I beg leave to request that you will be pleased to move Viscount GODERICH to direct the Colonial Agent Mr COURTNAY to issue to me the authorised allowance of 3 months salary of my decesaed Husband, being £120 sterling.

I have the honor to be Sir

Your most obedient humble servant

(Signed) Widow ROWLES

[Written across page by Colonial Office: this must be complied with if such an order exists]




National Archives, Kew, CO48/114, 409

69 Sloane Street

2nd October 1827


I need not I am persuaded attempt to express my disappointment at the receipt of your letter of the 15th August notifying to me Lord GODERICH's refusal to grant me the small aid afforded to the Widows of Englishmen belonging to the Government of the Cape of Good Hope, to bring their families to England at their demise, particularly after the unparalleled losses my late beloved husband experienced during his long service at the Cape of Good Hope in consequence of the measure lately adopted of fixing the Rixdollar at 18 pence sterling and which has been so fully set forth in his memorial. I do therefore, Sir, trust that you will have the goodness to bring my particular case again under the consideration of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, for although my unfortunate case may not come precisely within the letter of any regulation as no-one will I am sure deny that it is in every point of view within the spirit of it. The humane intention of Earl BATHURST in his Despatch of the 23rd August 1821 evidently was to aid the families of English Gentlemen who had served the King in a remote part of his Dominions in providing a means of returning to the Native Country of their deceased parent. I cannot therefore abandon the hope that the mere technical differences of an English Gentleman being nominated to his appointment in a British Colony by the Governor and of course subsequently sanctioned by the Secretary of State or nominated originally by the letter should not be permitted to deprive the Widow & young family of a meritorious officer dying in the execution of arduous but ill-requested duties of the benevolent assistance intended by Earl BATHURST's letter of the 23rd August 1821.

I have the honor to be Sir

Your most obed't humble servant





(memorial attached to above correspondence)

National Archives, Kew, CO48/114, 404

Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope

June 15th 1825

To His Excellency

The Governor General the Right Honourable Lord Charles Henry Somerset

The memorial of Thomas ROWLES of Cape Town Cape of Good Hope sets forth that your memorialist having in the year 1811 determined to become domiciled at the Cape of Good Hope for some years, or so long as his family affairs might dictate, was induced to withdraw his property from England for the purpose of investing it in this settlement, that he was induced from the reputed solidity and credit of the Colonial currency Your memorialist having twice petitioned Government for a grant of the same uncultivated land in the Cape district, but which petitions were refused, and the reason assigned for such refusal that the Lands had been applied for, and denied to former applicants, being security for the Colonial paper currency.

Your memorialist was further convinced of the solidity and credit of such currency from the same having been guaranteed on the surrender of the Colony to the British arms, as well as by a Proclamation of His Excellency Sir David BAIRD of the 23rd of Jany 1806 and from the prevailing report that the Paper Money, just created and issued would be destroyed after the same had returned into the Colonial Treasury.

Your Memorialist having married and domiciled himself did not hesitate to clear on Messrs Thomas Coutts & Co for nearly the whole of the funds which they hold belonging to him in Exchequer Bills to the amount of £9500 in sterling and for which sum he passed his Bills on that Banking House in favour of Messrs Simpson & Co & Messrs Ebden & Watts and received from them currency at 40 per cent or Rix dls 55,500 which he invested in this Colony and the same has ever since so remained.

That your Memorialist by your Excellency's ordinance in Council on the 6th day of June instant has become a very severe loss by Rixdollars being fixed at eighteen pence sterling in as much as it will be found when calculation   that he loses upon the aforesaid amount the sum of £3337.10sh.0 sterling if the Rixdollar had been fixed at the same rate as when your Memorialist drew his funds into this settlement, by this heavy loss which your Memorialist submits is without parallel in this Colony, your Memorialist is debarred from ever returning to his native country, or forwarding his children for education and the maintaining his family connexions.

This loss as before set forth will evidently appear to your Excellency on referring to the annexed account current of Major Thos Coutts & Co and the rate of Exchange for the year, the average of which was 45 per cent. Therefore your Memorialist humbly prays that your Excellency will be pleased to grant him relief to the amount of his loss in this singularly severe and unfortunate case, or if such relief be not in the power of your Excellency to grant without reference to His Majesty¹s Government at Home, that your Excellency will be graciously pleased to transmit the same for their consideration with such remarks as your Excellency¹s accustomed equity may suggest.

And your Memorialist as in duty bound will ever pray



[Attached to this is a page of banking account figures]


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