PHILIPPS, Thomas, 1836
National Archives, Kew CO48/170, 215
London, 25 Regent's Square
6 April 1836
To Sir George GREY, Bart [Under Secretary of State for War and the Colonies]
As I am making preparations for my immediate return to the Cape of Good Hope I claim permission to recapitulate the several heads of the Petition to Parliament with which I have been entrusted by the Inhabitants of the Eastern Province of that Colony, viz:
A Resident Authority on the Frontier
A Branch of the Colonial Government Bank
Transfer and Land Register Offices
I have already had the honor of addressing my Lord GLENELG on these subjects, as well as his Lordship's predecessors in the Colonial Department but nothing has been announced as decided upon except with regard to the first head, which by the appointment of Capt. STOCKENSTROM as Lieutenant Governor will I trust give satisfaction to my long suffering fellow Colonists on the Frontier.
With regard to the second head, the establishment of a branch of the Colonial Government Bank, I can only repeat that from the nature of its formation and the necessary restrictions on the issue of the Government paper currency, no hopes can now be entertained of any assistance from that quarter. The increasing commerce of the Colony generally has demanded a larger circulating medium even in Cape Town and many attempts within the last ten years have been formed to establish another Bank there but all (as well as a more recent one, an account of the failure of which has just been received) have proved abortive, such continuing to be the jealousy between the Dutch and English Residents that no combined plan in the Colony can succeed. It was a knowledge of these difficulties that I ventured so earnestly to address my Lord GLENELG in approval of the scheme of the "Bank of South Africa" now establishing and in the approval I have (since the announcement of the failure of the projected one in Cape Town) been supported by several of the most influential Merchants engaged in the Cape Trade, who have not only become Shareholders but are about to be joined in the Direction of its Affairs.
With regard to the urgent want of a Bank as well as the absolute necessity of allowing the Towns some Municipal Regulations & the coveniency of having Land Register & Transfer Offices in the Eastern Province, I beg leave to refer to the Lieutenant Governor, before he embarks, who I am confident will be able to convince my Lord GLENELG of the very great loss & inconvenience at present experienced.
In conclusion I beg leave to be allowed to repeat that the above subjects have not only been strongly recommended by His Majesty's Commissioners of Inquiry, but have since, and for some years, been the source of complaint of the Inhabitants of the Eastern Province, and now that they are at length indebted to my Lord GLENELG for the appointment of a Lieutenant Governor I humbly trust that his Lordship will be pleased to give his sanction to the adoption of the other important prayers of the Petitioners that I may have the satisfaction of informing them that the object of my mission has been at length accomplished.
I have the honor to remain, Sir
Your most obedient humble servant
[Note written across back for clerk to compose reply]
Inform him the question of the establ' of the Bank in the E. District has for some time past been the subject of different investigations by different Depts of HM Govt within whose province that question more or less directly falls, & that Lord G trusts that the decision will not be much longer delayed.
That to the general principle of establishing Municipal Regs and a Transfer & Land Reg'y Office in the E. District, HM Govt. are very favourably disposed and that they will instruct Capt. STOCKENSTROM to take such measures as may be best adopted for carrying that principle into effect.
National Archives, Kew CO48/170, 223
25 Regent Square
26th May 1836
I beg leave to trouble you with the accompanying statements with regard to the present state of the Banks of the Cape of Good Hope, in the hope that they may tend in some manner to explain the difficulties under which the part of the Colony in which I reside, labour.
I am not interested as a Proprietor of Shares in the Bank of South Africa, the Directors of which are now in communication with the Colonial Department, but feeling as I do that their propositions if acceded to will tend to the benefit of all concerned, I cannot but express a hope that they may meet with a favourable reception.
I not only express these sentiments as my own but as those of the Inhabitants of the frontier whose petition to Parliament I was the bearer of to England.
I have the honor to be, Sir
Your most obedient humble servant
[Enclosed with above]
When the British Settlers arrived in 1820 and were settled in the Eastern Province of the Cape of Good Hope, little trade was carried on from Algoa Bay. The currency at the time consisted of Rix dollar notes issued at 4% but had fallen in value to 2%. As the trade of the frontier increased, an increase of the circulating medium was required, so Rix dollars could be procured sufficient for the demand and the Troops were not even regularly paid; several Storekeepers in consequence issued notes of their own as low even as 3d! The Government after a time interfered by a Proclamation forbidding the issuing of any note under 50 Rix dollars, engaging at the same time to send up a sufficient supply of their own notes. These however were soon absorbed & the want continued.
The Rix dollar notes still declined in value in exchange for bills in England until the Home Government saw the necessity of preventing any further depreciation and fixed the rate at 1s/6d ordering at the same time the old notes as they came in to be destroyed and replaced by promissory notes not less than £1 signed by the Secretary to Government, payable in bills on the British Treasury in not less a sum however than £50 and at a discount of 1½ per ct.
The cause of the depreciation of the Rix dollar has been generally ascribed to a redundancy of issue, but the real fact appears to have arisen from the circumstance of the note being inconvertible neither promising to pay or to exchange either in Africa or in bills on England.
His Majesty's Commissioners of Inquiry when on the Frontier in 1825 became aware of the necessity of aiding the Commercial Interests of that Quarter, which were then gradually increasing, and now in 1836 nearly equal to 1/3d of the whole Colony. They know the inability of the present Bank & they therefore proposed that one should be established on a new principle, and that a branch of it should be extended to Grahams Town but as this plan required an immediate payment in specie of all outstanding notes, the proposition was not carried in to effect.
The whole of the Eastern Province thus remains as it has ever been, without the smallest assistance from the Government Bank, notwithstanding it was fully entitled to a share from the great increase of Trade & the consequent addition which it created to the Public Revenue, no bills can be discounted except at a most ruinous usurious rate, the principal part of the Trade is forced to be carried on by Barter from the absence of a sufficient circulating medium, and at the period of the payment of the Taxes such is the difficulty of procuring notes or cash that farming produce suffers a depreciation of 10 to 15 per cent & the farmers have been in consequence on the point of petitioning to pay their taxes in kind.
The whole of the Banking operations of the Colony as before observed are confined to Cape Town, where there are nominally two banks:
The Lombard or [Loughan?] Bank was instituted for the purpose of assisting Proprietors of immoveable property in Lands or Houses by loans on mortgages, and a capital was raised for it by the issue of a considerable quantity of Rix dollar notes which, when repaid by the Mortgagees, it was understood, were to be destroyed. The terms of these loans were £6 per ct Interest and after the first two years £10 per ct of the principal was to be repaid, thus for example in 1832 a sum of £15633 was received by Government from this operation, and credited in the financial report of that year, this sum consisted of £3890 for interest & £11743 on account of the Principal, notes however for the latter amount do not appear to have been destroyed. About £50000 of the capital of this Bank still remains out on loan. This Bank therefore cannot be said to be in active operation but is in fact gradually ceasing to exist; it now requires only the attendance of a Bookeeper to calculate interest & give receipts for the Principal as it is paid off. The interest received in 1832 amounted to £3890, in 1834 to £3444, showing a diminution of £446, which arises from Principal to the amount of from £7 to £8000 being paid off in the latter year. The Accounts of 1835 are not before the public, but it is calculated that much larger sums will be now paid off every successive year.
The Discount Bank is the only one in which the Public is generally interested, it is the depository of the Government Receipts as well as some only of the Commercial Interests for several Capitalists keep private banks if they may be so called and supply the necessities at rates much above the legal. The deposits thus obtained are employed by the Bank in discounting but as they must always be precarious it is sometimes without means to satisfy the demands for discount or even the demands of Government & the Commissariat; both of these Departments are at the moment applying by public advertisement for large loans offering debentures with £6 per ct interest. The Government is restricted from supplying their wants by issuing promissory notes as they are unable to promise to pay in cash, & the Home Government having become answerable for the whole present outstanding notes will not consent to become security for more.
It appears that the profits arising from this Bank in 1832 was £2409 after deducting charges of management. The clear annual income therefore which the Colonial Government receives from banking is between £2 & £3000. It must be considered a very insignificant sum when it is recollected that it is gained from a source is not only a monopoly, but from its funds being limited it is totally inadequate to the wants even of those who bank with it, that instead of aiding and extending commerce it is restricting it, prevents other more legitimate channels of income to Government, and is the last remaining Branch of the Dutch Government trading system, a system which has too long retarded the advancement of the Colony.
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