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

Correspondence 1821 to 1837.

Here only letters by known settlers or their families, or letters of great relevance to the 1820 settlers, have been transcribed, whereas ALL the 1819 correspondence was transcribed (see CO48/41 through CO48/46) whether or not the writers emigrated to the Cape.

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.

SYNNOT, Marcus (brother of Walter SYNNOT), 1820

National Archives, Kew, CO48/53, 366

Ballymoyer Lodge

Sep 27 1820


I think it a duty I owe my brother Capt. SYNNOT, who saild on the 12 Feb from Cork in the Fanny for the new settlement in Africa, taking ten heads of families besides his own, in all 27 in number, to send you a copy of a letter received from him. He was always given to understand his destination was to be Algoa Bay and that he was to get a grant of 100 acres of land for each head of family he brought out (of course land that could be cultivated). The perusal of his letter will shew whether Government have kept faith with him or those who saild from Cork. He has been sent to Clanwilliam in the district of Tulbach on the Elephant River, to the nor west of the Cape about 50 miles from Saldahna Bay; his men were of the most useful and respectable description for settlers such as it would be the interest of Government to encourage, not treat as they have been. I write merely in the hopes something will be done for Capt. SYNNOT & to fulfil the engagements of Government to him. I shall feel obliged if you will lay the letter before the proper persons & trust you will use your interest for Capt. SYNNOT as his case is an extreme hard one after all his trouble & expense. I hope you will favour me with an answer, also the address of Lord Charles SOMERSET the Governor, to whom he had a letter of introduction. Please direct to me Newton Hamilton, Ireland

Your humble serv't



Copy of Capt. SYNNOT's letter

Clanwilliam, 9th June 1820

I deferred writing to you until I had seen the grant of land allotted to me; it is situated under a vast chain of mountains as wild and rugged as nature could form them, in a narrow valley, of which a very small part can be cultivated; that granted to me is a tongue of land formed by the junction of John Dryscols River with the Elephant River, the greater part of it is an arid mountain composed of rock and sand, covered or rather intersected with shrubs, which is the universal characteristic of the country between this and Saldahna Bay. There is a proportion of level ground which can be cultivated and water conducted to, without which everything is burned up in summer. The hills are consequently of no use for agricultural purposes. I do not think this plot of level ground contains more than one hundred acres, and a very small proportion of that is good quality, but on this spot which is a mere garden everything may be produced. Rice, sugar, vines, oranges, corn of all kinds, fruits both European and tropical. The hills are of no other use than to feed cattle. The roads in every direction are deep sand for fifty miles from this it is impossible for the farmer to send anything to Capetown the distance is 6 or 7 days journey with a waggon and the roads wretched. In short there is neither a means of improvement nor a prospect of advantage. Indeed there is nothing to recommend this country but the climate. We set out from Saldahna in 12 waggons on the 26th May and arrived all in good health at Clan William on the 9th June. The weather proved favorable beyond our expectations for this is the rainy season. If I had been aware of the circumstances of this place I never would have come here, as there is no space for improvement, everything is confined by these rugged mountains and the habitations are thinly scattered over the wildest country in the world and it can never be more thickly inhabited; every spring of water has an habitation, these are to be met with at about an interval of 4 or 5 hours journey from each other. We are erecting huts on the ground and as soon as they are completed I shall sow wheat, plant potatoes &c, but I cannot reconcile myself to make this place my residence. It falls infinitely short of my expectations, it is not of sufficient extent to support my party without purchasing most of the necessaries of life. I am informed the English settlers at Algoa Bay have infinitely the advantage as to the quality of the ground. I am resolved on going to no expense except that of subsisting my party. The settlers from the East Indian are coming now. At first they rebelled but they have been constrained to accept the ground allotted them. Everyone agrees that half the people sent out will not have wherewithall to live.


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