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Historical Records of New Zealand

Lieutenant-Governor Paterson to The Right Hon. Henry Dundas.*

Lieutenant-Governor Paterson to The Right Hon. Henry Dundas.*

Sydney, New South Wales, 21st March, 1795.


I have the honor of informing you that Lieutenant-Governor Grose sailed from hence for England in the Dædalus, transport, on the 17th of last December, leaving me in the direction of his Majesty’s settlements in this part of the world, and taking with him, as you will perceive by the enclosed copy of his last despatch to you, the Rev. Mr. Bain, Mr. White, and Mr. Laing.

Having reason to expect the arrival of Governor Hunter daily, I have made no alteration in the mode of carrying on the service

* Lieutenant-Governor Paterson was not aware that the Duke of Portland had succeeded Mr. Secretary Dundas as Secretary of State for the Home Department, on the 11th July, 1794.

Lieutenant-Governor Paterson was evidently confusing Grose’s despatch of 8th December, 1794, to Hunter with that of the 10th idem to Dundas.

Governor Hunter did not arrive until the 7th September following.

page 196 which I found adopted at the Lieut.-Governor’s departure, and have, consequently, little else to report than the present state of the colony.

Our wheat harvest did not prove very abundant, but I have the satisfaction to say that the Indian corn has every appearance of being very productive; from the accounts which I have been able to collect, I conclude there will be a very considerable quantity of that article to receive into store this season, from settlers and others, and of what has been raised on account of Government.*

The flour being nearly expended, I have decreased the ration of that article, and substituted Indian corn in lieu, which is now sufficiently ripe for use, and which I have directed the Commissary to purchase from settlers and others at five shillings per bushel.

The Experiment, a small vessel, arrived here in the month of December last, from Bengal, with some articles of trade on speculation. From the master I received an account that a large ship had sailed from Bombay, in July last, freighted with cattle and other articles, in pursuance of the contract entered into between Mr. Bampton and the Crown (already reported to you by Lieut.-Governor Grose), which ship was, unfortunately, lost soon after her departure from Bombay; but of this untoward accident no advice has been sent by Mr. Bampton, and, notwithstanding the time which has since elapsed, I still hope we may derive every benefit from it which Lieut.- Governor Grose had in view when he entered into the contract for the cattle.

The Britannia, which had been engaged by the officers of the settlement to procure cattle and other articles for them at the Cape of Good Hope, returned from thence on the 4th instant. Out of forty-one horses which were put on board, thirty-three survived the voyage, and are likely (two excepted, which died soon after they had landed) to prove a valuable addition to the stock in the country. The master having some wine and spirits for sale, I have purchased a small quantity of the wine for the use of the hospital, and of the spirits for the people belonging to the schooner.§

* On or about the date of this despatch, settlers and others were informed that they would receive 5s. per bushel for all Indian corn brought by them to the public stores.—Collins, vol. i, p. 411.

Captain E. McClellan. The Experiment sailed for India on the 23rd March, carrying Lieutenant-Governor Paterson’s despatches.

See note to the Duke of Portland’s despatch of 10th June, 1795, post, p. 200. The vessel which was lost was the Neptune.

§ The Francis.

page 197

Wishing to obtain some information which I could depend upon respecting the harbour of Port Stephens (thirty leagues to the northward of this place), I sent the colonial vessel thither, under the direction of Mr. Grimes, the Deputy-Surveyor. He remained in it about a week, and, from his report, I have no reason to conclude it will ever be necessary to send a second time to it.*

The colonial vessel had been for some time previous to her sailing to Port Stephens employed in supplying the settlers on the banks of the Hawkesbury with provisions. I have caused a small store to be erected there, and have placed Baker, the superintendent, who arrived here in the Surprize, in the care of it, with a small guard for its protection.

I have directed the Commissary to draw bills on the Right Honorable the Lords Commissioners of his Majesty’s Treasury for the sum of four thousand two hundred pounds, to pay for the grain which has already been purchased this year, and for other incidental expenses, the accounts of which he will transmit by the earliest conveyance after this.

I have the honor to enclose the Commissary’s return of the provisions remaining in store, together with a state of the settlements at this period, by which you will perceive the want we are likely to feel in the article of salt meat, unless some supplies should arrive.

A vessel that has been for some months here awaiting the arrival of Mr. Bampton anchored here the 15th instant from the river Thames in New Zealand. I understood her people have been employed in cutting spars to freight whatever ship Mr. Bampton should bring or send here with the cattle, and that in the performance of this business, although but a brig of one hundred and fifty tons, no interruption or molestation whatever was given by the natives.

On the banks of the Thames the flax-plant was found growing in the greatest abundance and luxuriance, and any quantity of it might have been procured for a few pounds’ worth of iron.

* An epitome of Grimes’s report will be found in Collins, vol. i, p.408. It is worthy of note that although the master of the colonial vessel— the Francis—on his return voyage from Port Stephens, “ran close along shore,“ he saw no port or place of shelter for vessels until he got to Broken Bay.

The brig of one hundred and fifty tons was the Fancy, Captain Dell. She lay in the river Thames, New Zealand, for three months, and collected upwards of two hundred fine trees, from sixty to one hundred and forty feet in length. Collins (vol. i, p. 410) says that they were obliged on one occasion to fire on the natives, killing two men and one woman, the seamen declaring, in what he terms “their usual enlarged style,“ that they had driven off and pursued upwards of three thousand of “these cannibals.“

page 198

I shall not fail to communicate the circumstance to Governor Hunter on his arrival.

This vessel in her way hither touching at Norfolk Island, some letters were received from Lieut.-Governor King, a copy of which I have the honor to inclose for your information.

I have permitted the master of the Experiment to take with him a cargo of the mahogany and cedar of this country,* in the hope that if it should prove valuable in India it may be of advantage to his Majesty’s interest in any future intercourse with that country which may be directed by Government.

I have, &c.,

W. Paterson.

* Collins (vol. i, p. 412) states that the timber which the master of this vessel called cedar was obtained by him from the Hawkesbury River, whence he took sixty logs; but he does not say where the so-called mahogany was procured. To Mr. J. H. Maiden, Curator of the Technological Museum, the Editor is indebted for the following note: “The mahogany is what we now call red or forest mahogany, and is Eucalyptus resinifera. The cedar from the Hawkesbury is Cedrela Australis; it is now pretty well exterminated from places near the river, except in well-nigh inaccessible localities.“