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

pre 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, 303


August 3rd 1819


I have observed, and carefully too, the intention by Government respecting settlers at the Cape of Good Hope. It appears to me a judicious plan and if adopted by men of prudence, perseverance & economy, possessed of the needful means & information for carrying it properly into effect, promises favorable results. At all events the prospects of succeeding there cannot be less than is now in this country, therefore the thing deserves consideration. I do not say that I have resolved to go, but the idea is very deeply impressed in my mind – were I a single man without any family I would not hesitate a moment, but with six children it is a matter of some consideration and in my case not unattended with difficulty.

The primary objects of enquiry with me are Is the climate healthy? Are the settlers secured in their persons property & possessions by the Laws of England? Are the means of moral & religious instruction to be obtained ie schools & places of worship after the forms of the English church at the Cape? What kind of soil is there? Is water in abundance and would much draining or bringing in be necessary and in what time might this be accomplished? Would corn crops or the rearing of cattle be most advantageous? Might not the cure of provisions and attention to raise fine wool be attended with good effects? Could the production of the Dairy be turned to account? What are the markets or outlets for the produce of the Cape? Are black or horned cattle, sheep & horses to be had there and at what prices? Would it be advisable to take out a good bull, horse & ram so as to improve the breed? Are there any coals & iron or steel there? Any foundries or smithys? What would be the proper time to reach the settlement? Would mercantile, manufacturing or handy crafts operating of any kind answer? And which are preferable? What capital would be required for an establishment of ten men on a farm of 1000 acres? I presume five hundred pounds stg might answer for every useful purpose because I think a sufficient return from the land & labour for maintenance & wages may be obtained in two years? What kind of Society is at Cape Town? Were I going out I would take with me an experienced man in farming operations as my foreman, a person acquainted with rearing cattle and sheep, three stout ploughmen, two shepherds, a smith, a wright, a cooper & Jack of all trades – a fair assortment of farming and husbandry utensils & seeds, all of which I presume would go freight free.

I am without any other means of procuring useful information on these points, which is the cause of my taking the liberty of addressing myself to you. I hope you will forgive my doing so & favour me by answering any of my queries with which you may be acquainted.

I have been in business in this my native town for nearly sixteen years as a merchant and certainly at one point little dreamt I should ever have occasion to think of leaving my own country. I have been like many others unfortunate in my pursuits, not however from any imprudence or misconduct of my own ( a strong proof of which is given by my creditors allowing me to wind up my own affairs) but entirely owing to the unparalleled embarrassments of the mercantile world, & ham a pure & unsullied character, which is what no turn of fortune can deprive me of. My age is about 40. Could I be of any use to Government at the Cape or elsewhere, with respect I remain

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