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Historical Records of New Zealand

Lieutenant-Governor Grose to Lieutenant-Governor King

page 187

Lieutenant-Governor Grose to Lieutenant-Governor King.

Sydney, 25th February, 1794.


I have read with great attention your letter of the 30th ult’o, and I am more astonished and mortified at its contents than I can well describe. What appears to me the most extraordinary is the great confidence with which you seem to set about such ill-judged and unwarrantable proceedings.

Your excursion to Knuckle Point, your sending away the New Zealanders without any directions whatever, and without either knowing or inquiring what were my intentions respecting them, are attacks on my situation I little expected, and which would justify measures I shall not pursue.

Your taking on yourself to appoint Captain Nepean, who by accident called at Norfolk, to a command you had left without permission might have produced the most unpleasant effects. Lieut. Abbott would have been perfectly justified in resisting your appointment of Captain Nepean, and the circumstance of your assembling the garrison for the purpose of reading them your commission, intending, I suppose, thereby to shew you was authorized in the step you was taking, was very irregular. Your commission, when read, was the best proof I know of that you had assumed an authority you did not possess, and that you was taking from Lieut. Abbott, the second in command, the authority he had.

Ready as I might be to put up with any want of attention to myself, I really do not see how this can be done, for I must for my own sake report the circumstances. I have not a doubt but the Secretary of State and the Commissioners of the Navy Board will consider your delaying the Britannia for this trifling purpose, at a time when she was charged with a business of such importance to the colony, a transaction deserving their highest disapprobation, and I really must very pointedly disclaim any knowledge whatever as well of the excursion as its appendages.

The mutiny you state to have happened at Norfolk I have directed to be investigated by a Court of Enquiry composed of all the officers who were present at Sydney. To them I have communicated all the information, either public or private, I received from yourself. Their opinion I enclose to you.

The necessity of disarming the detachment I cannot discover, although we all too plainly perceive that if the soldiers have been refractory the insults they have received from the convicts were sufficient to provoke the most obedient to outrage.

page 188

I have directed Lieut. Townson to take command of the detachment serving at Norfolk, and he will communicate to you whatever orders I have given him respecting the soldiers.

The militia you have ordered to assemble are immediately to be disembodied, and their arms are to be sent in the schooner, for the purpose of being served out to those persons who are settled on the banks of the Hawkesbury.

Lieut. Townson is directed to apply to you for the persons of Thomas Restil Crowder and William Doran, who are to be kept in irons in the guard-house until the departure of the schooner, when they are to be sent as prisoners to Sydney.*

The house occupied by the commanding officer of the troops being reported to be very uncomfortable, you will permit him to choose for himself any other house he prefers, and you will remove any person inhabiting the house he wants to the quarter he would have occupied.

Mr. Grimes being at this time much wanted by the Surveyor-General, you will direct him to take a passage in the schooner; and the Rev. Mr. Bain is also expected by this conveyance.

Lieut. Abbott, for the present, is to continue at Norfolk, and put himself under the command of Lieut. Townson; and although I have judged it necessary to enable Lieut. Townson to assemble regimental courts-martial that Ensign Lucas should proceed with him in the schooner, Lieut. Abbott is not to consider himself as releaved until another officer is sent to Norfolk Island for that purpose.

It appearing by a remark of yours that Cooper, the man who struck Bannister, the soldier, was forgiven his punishment at the intercession of the detachment, and, at the examination of the Court of Enquiry, the officer, the sergeant, and all the soldiers who came from Norfolk Island declaring they were not acquainted with any such request having been made, and that, on the contrary, they were disappointed on finding him escape without punishment, I have to request you will trouble yourself to give me some further explanation of this circumstance.

Lieut. Townson, the commanding officer of the detachment, having received a lease of twenty acres of land at Norfolk Island, he is to chuse such situation in Charlotte Fields as he may approve of, and of which Mr. Grimes will bring with him the description. He is also to chuse a spot of twenty-five

* Fuller particulars of the circumstances of the quarrel in which these men were concerned will be found in King’s letter to Dundas, 10th March, 1794. Crowder was a constable. King describes him as having been emancipated by Governor Phillip “on my representation.“ Doran is described by Lieutenant Beckwith as “a man who lives with the Governor“ (meaning, evidently, Lieutenant-Governor King).

page 189 acres for the use of the officers who at any time shall be on detachment at Norfolk, which are to be divided in the following proportions, vizt.:-1794 Feb. 25.

To the commanding officer of the detachment ten acres, and to the three subalterns five acres each of cleared ground. At present Lieut. Townson will allott the ten acres for the use of the soldiers of the detachment.

Lieut. Townson will also apply to you for a spot whereon such soldiers as he may wish to indulge with sleeping out of the barracks may build huts, which huts are never to be visited by the constables; but in case of any disturbance therein the sergeant of the guard is to be sent to, and the commanding officer of the detachment will, of course, take away the indulgence of sleeping out of the barracks from such soldiers as conduct themselves irregularly.

Lieut. Townson is instructed to enlist a person of the name of Flemming, now employed as general overseer at Norfolk Island, who will receive a warrant of emancipation on condition of his enlisting, and he is to be sent hither in the Francis. The two prisoners, Crowder and Doran, are to be under his charge on board the schooner. A young woman of the name of Eliz’t’ Goff, who has obtained permission to come to Sydney, is also to be placed under his care.

As I perceive that some of the ships which have lately touched at Norfolk Island have taken several convicts from thence, it is to be understood that in future no convict is to quit that settlement until application has been made and permission obtained from hence.*

I am, &c.,

Frans. Grose.

* In his letter to Dundas of the 30th August, 1794, Grose attempts to excuse the severity of this letter by an explanation which suggests his willingness to acquit King of any blame.