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Historical Records of New Zealand

Lieutenant-Governor King to Under Secretary Nepean.*

Lieutenant-Governor King to Under Secretary Nepean.*

Norfolk Island, 19th November, 1793.

Dear Sir,—

To my publick letter respecting my trip to New Zealand I must refer you for every circumstance attending it, and I hope to hear that my proceedings on that business will be approved of. I am confident much publick good would result to the commerce of Great Britain and these colonies if a settle-

* A private letter.

page 180 ment
was made at the Bay of Islands or the river Thames. To my letters I must refer you for my ideas on that subject. Since my return from that country I am more confirmed in its apparent utility. Weavers and rope-makers should be sent out with their proper implements, as it will answer much better to send the flax manufactured than in the raw state. If the plants get safe home, I think too much attention cannot be paid to the cultivation of it, as it will grow most luxuriantly in situations where scarce anything else will vegetate. I have sent a box with some very fine plants to Sir Joseph.* I now come to the point which I intended this letter for. In my publick letter to Mr. Dundass respecting my going to New Zealand I have suppressed a circumstance respecting my leaving the command of the island to your brother during my ten days absence. For my reason I must refer you to the above letter. When I had resolved on going, I issued the General Order which is an enclosure in No. 2. Mr. Abbot, who is the senior of the three subalterns, came to me, and in the most contemptuous, and I may also say mutinous, manner (in the presence of the Deputy Surveyor), and positively and unequivocally (in his own name and that of the other subs.), refused obeying the order in any one respect. I endeav’d to point out what I thought the consequences of such behaviour might be, but that only seemed to make him more irritable and obstinate in continuing his avowed intention of disobeying the order in toto, which he doubted if Capt. N. would obey or not. On my sending for your brother, on putting the question to him and stating Mr. Abbot’s conduct (which he avowed before Capt. N.), he answered that he considered himself as an officer liable to be called into service in these colonies on any emergency, and that he considered it his duty, as a capt. belonging to the N.S.W. Corps and in full pay, to obey any legal order which he might receive from a superior for the good of the King’s service. After Mr. Abbot had for some time endeavoured to persuade Capt. N. that he was totally incompetent to take the command, and that I had grievously oppressed him (Lt. Abbot) in thinking of such a thing, I cut the matter short by telling Lt. A. that as Capt. Nepean thought it his duty to obey my orders he might do as he chose, on which he left me, saying he should consider more about it. It was now seven o’clock in the evening, and I intended to embark early next morning. The next morning, at seven o’clock, Lieut. Abbot came to me and said that he should not retard the service by continuing a disobedience to the order, but that he should represent the oppression he laboured under. At nine o’clock,

* Evidently Sir Joseph Banks.

Not available.

Charles Grimes.

page 181 my commission, with my order to Capt. N., was read, and I embarked, and neither at my embarking or landing did any one of those officers attend me. After my return Lieut. Abbot sent Ensign Piper to me to ask whether I meant to write home respecting what had taken place previous to my embarking, because if I did he would make a representation to ye Sec’y at War. I declined giving that officer any information on that head. Soon after I received a letter from Ensign Piper denying that he had ever given Lieut. Abbot the least reason to make use of his name (in refusing to obey the order), as Lieut. Abbot had not even spoken to him on the business previous to his (Lt. A.) coming to me and making use of both the officers’ names. The other sub’n was so much intoxicated with liquor that he was incapable of giving any opinion. Mr. Abbot thought proper to wait upon me, and before the D’y Surveyor he acknowledged that neither of the officers gave him permission to make use of their names, and that he had never consulted them previous to his making me that declaration, but that they since were and continued of his opinion. As this is the substance of this business, I must leave you to make your comments on it. Independent of the necessity I found myself under to leave a suff’t number of officers to form court-martials, I had another reason which, in my opinion, militated against my leaving Lieut. Abbot in command here. Six months ago that officer engaged some soldiers to pick a quarrel with a settler in order to beat him, which the settler having notice of had collected other settlers to repel force by force, but, fortunately for the peace and tran-quility of this island, the soldiers did not carry their plan into execution. This came before me as a complaint. This was one reason which I had not to give the command to Lt. A. Another reason was that the officer next to him is a beastly drunkard, and by no means fit to succeed Lt. Abbot in case of death, had I been inclined to leave the government with ye latter. I find some kind of representation is sent by Lt. A. to the Secretary at War. I do not wish to injure Mr. A., although I have great reason and provocation. I have therefore suppressed making any mention of this transaction in my publick letters, leaving it to you to make what use of this you may think proper. If N.Z. should be seriously thought on, would it not be advisable for some person to examine the country before any people are sent there? I should have no objection to performing that service, which might be completed in two months on sailing from hence.

By your brother I have sent you a box of N.Z’d curiosities, which you will dispose of as you may think proper.

I am, &c.,

Philip Gidley King.