AUSTIN, John re Miles BOWKER, 1820
Cape Archives CO6138 Volume 2 pp 10-12
On Board HM Ship Weymouth
Feeling ourselves very much Dissatisfied on Point of Emigration to the Cape of Good Hope we feel an Inclination to state our Grievances to your Lordship wishing for Redress. We having Engaged to Proceed to the Cape of Good Hope as Settlers but not as Slaves – we came for the Purpose of Cultivating Land for the Benefit of ourselves and those whom we love and also for our Country at Large we having agreed with one Mr. BOWKER 1st he has Paid I understand for each Individual the Sum of 10£ and is to receive 100 Acres of Land per Man. This we were Totally Ignorant of untill we Embarked on Board the said Ship. He Proposes to give us each 10 Acres of Land to Work for him for the Period of 3 Years for our Provision and Clothes 4 Days in the Week for him and two for ourselves, Sunday Excepted of Course being a Day of Rest but the said two Days we were to Work for whom we thought Proper or at the Cultivation of our Land. Still he was to Maintain us. My Lord since we have been on Board he has Absconded his agreement he tells us he shall Allow us 15d per Day for the two Days we have to ourselves and also he the said Mr. BOWKER will Charge for our Clothes out of this 15d which is a most Absurd Mean thing. What is to become of any Land we have [Slaves] for Cultivation. I Cannot Expect to Derive any Benefits from it but to be [Concealed] Slaves and just Keep ourselves Clothed no View of ever Deriving [any] Advantages from our Land. Now my Lord we should be happy to know whether we are at Liberty to [Fly] from our Agreement as Mr. BOWKER has done. There are no Articles Drawn up whatsoever all this was done Verably which said Agreement we can give on Oaths to if Required. Therefore we should wish to Agree with Another Master or otherwise to have Articles from Mr. BOWKER Corresponding with those which we made in England. We Request also for it to be brought before your Honour face to face for Examination and I hope your Lordship will judge whether such things are just or not. We have not Left our Native Land to become Slaves. No we wish to Derive some Benefit whatsoever may arise from our Land by our own Industry but to come to such Proposals we Cannot think of Doing and the said Mr. BOWKER tells us we shall be Sent to England again if we do not [live] with him but we would rather return as Poor Deluded Emigrants than become Slaves and never to Derive any Advantages. The whole truth is we would wish either to Leave him and get another Master or for him to come to his agreement which he made before he left England then we shall be Satisfied.
Mr. BOWKER in the first Place Covets our Labour for Nothing. We Speak Candidly as Men for ourselves not wishing to Intrude to [You] but to be [dealt] with in a Manner becoming a Gentleman and we wish not to be Imposed on, as for Success in any Undertaking I Cannot Expect any whilst such Proposals stand. I hope your Lordship will take these few Lines into Consideration and have justice done on both sides to Prevent Disturbance which might otherwise arise hereafter for the name of Slaves would still be concealed within us and that name to an Englishman Appears most Ghastly in all its View it is Abhorred Detested below [page torn]
My Lord we hope for your Answer
We remain with Profound Respect your most Ob’t Humble Servants