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Historical Records of New Zealand

Lieutenant-Governor King to Lieutenant-Governor Grose

page 193

Lieutenant-Governor King to Lieutenant-Governor Grose.

Norfolk Island, 19th March, 1794.


I am honoured with your letter and orders, dated 25th ulto., by Lieut. Townson, who arrived here in the Francis, schooner, the 9th inst.

It is, sir, with much concern and sorrow that I find the whole of my conduct has incurred your marked disapprobation, particularly as I have ever made it my study to merit the approbation of my superiors by every action which appeared to me consistent with the character of an officer. Permit me, sir, to assure you of my entire respect and deference, and should anything appear improper in what I must now state as my defence to the charges laid against me, it does not—it cannot, sir— proceed from my heart, as no other consideration than an earnest desire of forwarding the King’s service and promoting the peace and happiness of those under my charge has ever been the ruling and prevailing line of my conduct.

By the triplicate of my letter to the Right Hon’ble Henry Dundas, sent by the Shah Hormuzear,* which triplicate I sent opened in my despatches by Lieut. Beckwith for your inspection, you will, sir, observe my remark that it “required entreaty to persuade them (the New Zealanders) to give us the least information in their mode of dressing the flax.“ In order to possess that information I made them a promise of sending them home by the first ship, and which had the desired success; and it was my full intention to send them by the first opportunity to Port Jackson, hoping they might be sent from thence. The Sugar-cane and Boddingtons arrived here on their way to India they were disappointed, and when the Britannia came they repeated their wish to be sent back again; the hourly lamentations of two sensible men panting to revisit their dearest connections and their native country, from which they were separated in a sudden manner; your supposition in the private letter§ you wrote me by the Shah Hormuzear, that your supposed they were sent here from my application (which application I made in every letter I wrote to Governor Phillip, and renewed it when I was in England); and the New Zealanders having given us every instruction in their power respecting the method of working the flax: all these reasons induced me to give way to the dictates of humanity in restoring them to their friends and

* The Shah Hormuzear left Norfolk Island, 27th May, 1793.

Lieutenant Beckwith carried Lieutenant-Governor King’s despatch of the 30th January, 1794, to Lieutenant-Governor Grose.

The Sugar-cane and Boddingtons were at Norfolk Island, 2nd to 27th May, 1793.

§ Not available.

page 194 country. Could I for ’a moment have imagined that this step would have been disapproved of, or if a ship had been going to Port Jackson, I most certainly, sir, should have waited your orders, or have sent them to you, as I know and feel it my duty to pay obedience to your orders; and permit me to assure you, sir, in the most respectful manner, that it was far, very far, from my intention to make any attack whatever on the respect due to your situation, as I flatter’d myself with your approbation of the act.

My reasons for conducting the New Zealanders myself, and the certainty of the northerly wind prevailing some days (which it did), and which was a foul wind for the Britannia, together with my reasons for leaving the command with Captain Nepean, I have stated in the first part of the duplicate of the letter No. 6,* to the Right Hon’ble Henry Dundas, and which, sir, I sent open by Lieut. Beckwith for your inspection. It was my intention not to be longer than ten days or a fortnight at most from the island, and to have return’d immediately if the wind came contrary, or we had met with any calm weather on our passage thither; and you will observe, sir, by the master’s journal, as also by the duplicate of my letter No. 6, to the Right Hon’ble Henry Dundas, that my stay at the extreme north point of that island, from the time we came near it, was only eighteen hours, and that I relanded here the tenth day after my departure. As my conduct has, in this as well as in every other instance, met your disapprobation, I am sorry for it; but I can assure you, sir, I had no other view in going there than what I have stated in the above letter, and to prevent the Britannia making any unnecessary delay; nor had I any other view in leaving the command with Captain Nepean than that of a sufficient number of officers being on the island to order and compose garrison courts-martial. I am sorry for whatever impropriety or irregularity I may have committed in the above transactions; and I can assure you, sir, I had no other intention in them than that of doing a humane action, and, as I hoped, an act of public utility; and I must here beg leave to assure you, sir, that no person has a higher sense of the attention due to you than myself, and nothing but the great distance between us, and the length of time which might elapse before I could receive your orders (as it has been within a few days of one year that I have not had an opportunity of soliciting or obtaining them), would have induced me in that case, or any other, to act from my own judgment.…

I have, &c.,

Philip Gidley King.

* The letter referred to was dated 19th November, 1793. See page 169, ante.