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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.

NOURSE, Henry (Independent Settler)

National Archives, Kew CO48/44, 824

No.2 Copthall Buildings

26th July 1819

My Lord,

Referring to the recent encouragement intended by His Majesty's Government for emigration to the Cape of Good Hope, the object of which as well as the general commercial interests of that important colony having been a subject of my peculiar consideration, and having also been in some manner instrumental in promoting this object by various practical experiments during the course of upwards of 10 years commercial connexion with the Cape. I respectfully presume to suggest to your Lordships reflection, whether (in order to give effect to the object in contemplation and with a view to relieve the Colonial Office from the mass of enquiry which it will no doubt occasion and which it cannot be supposed that that Department can fully answer) it may not be expedient to appoint some Agent or authorise some Commercial Establishment to give the required information and to act as a channel thro the medium of which the necessary negociations with your Lordship's Department might be transacted and at the same time direct & assist all persons desirous of availing themselves of the advantages held forth to them in the mode of proceeding necessary for their attainment both here and on their arrival at the Cape, together with the requisites for the voyage & to negociate for their passage out &c &c.

When I reflect upon the class of person likely to avail themselves of this opening, their natural ignorance in all these respects, and the trouble that must necessarily arise to the Colonial Office from such a chain of desultory enquiry, the inconvenience and increased expences that must result to the parties themselves from the want of due combination, I cannot but think that some such appointment or authority would greatly facilitate the object of His Majesty's Government by drawing the various applications to a focus forming the necessary combinations, directing the tide in a channel consistent with the views of His Majesty's Government and giving general assistance to the scheme in a way which cannot be expected from any official Department.

Having said sufficient to call your Lordship's consideration to the subject I trust I shall not be deemed unnecessarily intrusive or impertinent in stating that should your Lordship's ideas correspond with this suggestion I beg leave to tender the services of my own Establishment both here & at the Cape in furtherance of these views under such an arrangement as may appear consistent with circumstances – flattering myself that it will be found from long practical experience in the [obscured] and interests of the Colony in every respect eligible for the purpose, and Mr. COURTENAY, Government Agent to the Colony, I have no doubt will bear testimony to the zeal & interest I have uniformly manifested in its concerns.

Attending your Lordship's commands I have the honor to be, my Lord

Your Lordship's most obedient humble servant


[Note from GOULBURN across bottom: Lord B is much obliged by the offer but does not at present consider it necessary to make any appointment of the nature of that suggested by him]




National Archives, Kew CO48/44, 838

2 Copthall Buildings

August 2nd 1819


I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 28th ult in reply to a letter I had the honor to address to Earl BATHURST on the subject of Emigration to the Cape of Good Hope, in which you state that his Lordship does not at present consider it necessary to make any appointment of the nature therein suggested.

Desirous of promoting the object in view as far as in my power, & having thrown out the suggestion as it occurred to me, I feel satisfied that his Lordship's determination is founded on the best considerations and beg to thank you for your polite communication.

The same motive & the interest I have embarked in the Colony induce me further to intrude the following questions upon this important subject.

  • In the event of a combination of 50 or 100 individuals disposed to avail themselves of the proposed encouragement for proceeding as settlers to the Cape and complying with the conditional deposit required; how are they to proceed on their arrival at the Cape to obtain possession of the proposed land – and as no doubt the district intended to be colonized will afford much diversity of soil under what regulation with respect to the choice of situation as it regards the different views which the parties may jointly or respectively have as to its appropriation to different kinds of culture?
  • In the event of such a combination being formed or any individual acting upon such a scale – is there any objection to their proceeding to the Cape forthwith? And supposing them to undertake to find their own conveyance, what allowance would be made by His Majesty's Government for their so doing in lieu of the facilities offered?
  • Is it the intention of His Majesty's Government to provide implements of husbandry, clothing, provisions and various necessaries which will be required by the settlers on and after their arrival at the Cape, or must these be provided by themselves. In which case under what regulation for the conveyance of such articles thither?
  • What is the precise district intended to be colonized and what a kind of sea coast does it comprise? The object of this enquiry is to afford opportunity to persons acquainted with the country to estimate before they embark in such an undertaking or encourage others to do so the probability of its being applicable to any particular view they may contemplate.
  • Is there any objection on the part of His Majesty's Government to grant land in any other part of the Colony than that immediately in view, provided such situations can be found unoccupied?
  • Will the proposed settlement (if it may be so termed) be subject to the existing Dutch Colonial Laws or English Laws? A most important consideration to everyone creating property there.

These enquiries I beg to assure you are not dictated by idle curiosity but a sincere desire of promoting the object in view & in the positive contemplation of embarking in it. As such I trust you will do me the favor to afford me all the information on these points consistent with the present arrangements of His Majesty's Government.

I have the honor to be, Sir

Your ob't humble servant





National Archives, Kew CO48/44, 829

Copthall Buildings

16th August 1819

My Lord,

I am already before your Lordship in various communications relative to the Cape of Good Hope in the commercial concerns of which Colony I have been many years engaged.

It being now my intention personally to embark for that Colony I beg respectfully to solicit the aid & protection of your Lordship to my views in so doing.

The object in my immediate contemplation is the formation of a Commercial or Agency Establishment in Algoa Bay as a branch of my Cape House already established in Cape Town, to which I mean to connect a store for the supply of the various wants of the new settlers going thither under the encouragement now offered by His Majesty's Government. Such an establishment I conceive essentially calculated to promote the views of Government in so doing not only as it relates to the immediate wants of the new settlers but as opening to them a market for their surplus produce in exchange for their wants and directing their attention to the growth of such articles as are best adapted to the demands of the trade of the Colony. It is to these last objects my attention is principally directed, and I am inclined to think they are as necessary to the prosperity of the new settlement as the land itself, which is useless beyond a certain extent without a market for its produce; while by holding forth such a market and creating a demand for their produce I should offer the surest stimulus & encouragement to the exertions & industry of the colonists.

Under this view of the subject, my Lord, I respectfully solicit of his Majesty's Government a grant of land favorably situated upon the coast for the purpose of such an Establishment.

Ignorant of the exact position of the land intended to be settled, and consequently of its communications, it is impossible for me to define the position I should require but your Lordship will perhaps indulge me with some further insight on this subject and acquaint me with the mode by which such land is to be taken up on arrival at the Cape.

It will be evident to your Lordship that some time must elapse & considerable expence be incurred before any advantage can be reaped from such an undertaking. With reference therefore to a letter I have had the honor to address to your Lordship tendering my services in forwarding the views of His Majesty's Government, I respectfully submit to your Lordship's consideration whether any aid can be afforded me in carrying into effect the object in view.

As it appears to me that it will be expedient for Government to erect or employ store houses on the coast for the purpose of depositing the agricultural implements &c intended to be supplied to the settlers, and that someone must necessarily be appointed to issue them under certain regulations. Can your Lordship in any way put them under my controul so as to afford an early foundation to the plan I have in view, or employ the stores I may erect for this purpose? Or is there any commission, my Lord, of a commercial nature, which may be combined with the object I have in view to aid & encourage me in the undertaking. Pardon me for presuming to appeal to your Lordship in this indefinite manner, but ignorant of what arrangements may be in the contemplation of His Majesty's Government with regard to the New Settlement it is impossible for me to be more defined.

No-one has done more for a series of years to draw forth the energies of this important Colony and to develop its trade by practical experiment than myself, and had my views been supported & my strength equal to my zeal I feel, my Lord, that both it & I would have mad a more conspicuous figure than we do at present. Unfortunately, however, my means have been limited, and unfortunately too these have been diminished by recent casualties, but not extinguished; & my connexions abroad & at home are in every way highly respectable. Upon these grounds both public & private I respectfully solicit your Lordship's protection & favour.

In concurrence & in combination with the views I have set forth it is my intention to proceed forthwith to the Cape to endeavour to anticipate the arrival of the body of the settlers by my arrangements, and should I meet sufficient encouragement to take with me 50 or 100 individuals, as I shall find persons calculated for the purpose, under such minor arrangements, however, as will leave me personally at liberty to devote my time to my main object.

Would it in this case be consistent with the views of His Majesty's Government to appoint me an immediate conveyance? Or will a ratable allowance be made to me for finding such conveyance myself? What would such allowance be per individual?

What tonage is it proposed to allow to each person in the transports to be provided by Government for the conveyance of their implements & stores? Is any restriction to be imposed as to the number of settlers that may be conveyed in each ship according to the tonage?

Will it be necessary to proceed to Cape Town, the seat of the Colonial Government, to claim the land to be granted in conformity with the circular that has been issued, or will sufficient authority be found on the spot to give possession under the proposed regulations?

In making the required deposit, which it is understood is to be repaid in the Colony by instalments, how is the same to be repaid? If in the currency of the Colony, at what Exchange? If by Drafts on your Lordship's Department, how are they to be negociated? This feature also presents to my mind a complicated transaction, which will require an authorised Agent there to negociate, and none so effectual person to observe as a Commercial one acquainted with such operations. Indeed my Lord every step I advance in this interesting subject points to the necessity of a resident Agent.

If the arrangement is made and the appointment filled I have to apologize to your Lordship for my intrusion. If on the contrary the paper is yet blank I throw myself under the consideration of your Lordship to aid & support my views by the sanction of some authority or commission. Assuring your Lordship of my devoted zeal to the undertaking

I have the honor to be my Lord

Your Lordship's most obedient hum st


[Draft of GOULBURN's reply]

I am directed by Lord B to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 16th in which you state your intention to form a commercial estab't in Algoa Bay as a branch of that which you already have at Cape Town & you wish with this view to receive a grant of land in a convenient situation & to acquaint you in reply that Lord B will have no difficulty in recommending your proposal to the favorable consideration of the Gov. of the settlement in order that you may receive such a grant of land in a proper situation & such other indulgence as may be consistent with the regulations under which other settlers proceed to the Colony & with the extension to other deserving persons of similar advantages should they be disposed to embark in commercial operations of the same nature.

With respect to the other part of your letter I am directed to acquaint you that Lord B does not see any necessity for making the appointment of a commercial agent in the Colony & that should you be induced to make, in conformity with the enclosed letter, any proposal for conveying out a number of persons to the Colony Lord B will take it into consideration together with the other proposals which may be made to him on the same subject & communicate to you as early a decision as circs. will admit.




National Archives, Kew CO48/44, 854

Copthall Buildings

16th August 1819


I am requested by a correspondent in Cork to ascertain whether, in the event of a sufficient number of persons being found at that Port disposed to avail themselves of the offers of His Majesty's Government to emigrate to the Cape, a vessel would be appointed to take them up there, and what would be the fewest number that would be a sufficient inducement for such an appointment being made.

Also what tonage each individual would be allowed for his stores, and whether any room would be allowed for the conveyance out of machinery, such as for a Corn or Flour Mill or other purpose useful for the settlers

I have the honor to be Sir

Your most obedient serv't


[Transcriber's Note: Henry NOURSE is not listed in The Settler Handbook. He was a wine merchant with business interests at the Cape and eventually sailed to South Africa in June 1820 on HMS Vigo. His wife Dorothy CHRISTIAN was a cousin of Fletcher CHRISTIAN of Mutiny on the Bounty fame.]

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