CAPT. JOHN FINNIS.
Master Mariner, Pioneer, and Pastoralist. More Historical Letters. II.— By A. T. Saunders.
Adelaide, South Australia 1/11/1838. David Salmon, Esq., New Zealand. My dear Salmon— You may remember before leaving Sydney I was preparing myself for a journey overland to this province,
which I accomplished after a most fatigu- ing and uncomfortable quarter of a year's travelling. I started from one of the last stations out of the boundaries of New South Wales on the 23/5/1838, with 400 head of cattle and a few sheep— the lat- ter for consumption on the road— and en- countered difficulties that required no little labour and perseverance to over come. We had a country extending little less than 300 miles, densely covered with long reeds (from 12 to 15 ft. high), to force a passage through. Fortunately we had dry weather, so that by the main strength of the cattle who broke tbe reeds down ahead (acting something like pioneers) we managed to get slowly on. We succes- sively passed the junctions of the Murrum bidgee, Yarran, Darling, and finally crossed the Murray (a noble river) below the Dar- ling junction a few miles, and after pass- ing two very beautiful lakes of fresh, and several streamlets of salt water, we ulti- mately arrived in this country, with which, by the way, I am very much pleased. It is alternate hill and dale, covered with sward of a superior richness, so that, as you may conclude, it is surprisingly fit for breeding cattle. We lost a good many of our (cattle?) but I am inclined to believe I will recover some in course of a month or so. The market, however, it at present at a stand- still. I have been here some weeks, and not yet sold a beast, nor shall I, at the prices offered. Dislike of Whaling. Yonr brother John is here in a very fine ship (the barque Winchester: from Lon don, arrived 23/9/38.-A. T. S.), and curses the days spent in whaling. At present he amuses himself in damning with great sincerity tbe port he is now in, swearing the moment he can complete his ballast he will be off for Batavia. He looks as if he were getting into the sere and yellow leaf of age; indeed, his ap- pearance is quite as venerable as my own, which has not been improved by the three months' starvation on our journey. Fools are coming in shiploads here, from Eng- land, expecting to find dollars growing on the trees instead of hard labour to pro- cure existence. As I fully intend being in Sydney by January, I shall anxiously look for a long letter from you, telling me what you think of this new company about to station themselves at New Zealand &c. I would advise yon to have your deeds registered in the Supreme Court of New South Wales without delay. I had mine, which is all the acknowledgment one re- quires of the jurisdiction of that Court in New Zealand. If you can rent my land, do so, but not for a longer period than three years. I hope you find everything as you wish yourself. I may mention that if yon think the speculation worth trying you would find a ready market for building (house) timber, &c, plank 25/ to 30/ per 100. Maize would realize a ready price of 8d. a bushel, and so on. Jock appeared to be quite a screw, and is there- fore in that respect the antipodes of his brother; he is in good health. . I am not aware of anything further, in the shape of news but I may add that on arrival in Sydney you will again hear from your old and .sincere friend. John Finnis. Dealings in Cattle. Adelaide, 12/11/1838. T. B. Strangways, Esq.— As yon are about branding the cattle purchased by your brother, now running at Mount Barker, I beg to hand the account of ex pense incurred (£42 0/7 to 11/11/1838), together with the copy of a letter ad- dressed by me to your brother previous to starting from Cumberoona, showing the nature, of the engagement, and beg to submit that an early liquidation will be acceptable.— I am, Sir. &c., John Finnis. On board the Henry Freeling, 14/11/1838. John Tooth, Esq., Sydney. Dear Sir.- I have hurriedly availed myself of this immediate opportunity of acknowledging your letter not yet an hour in my posses- sion. It was my intention to have trans- mitted by Mr. Jackson the amount in cash of the only sale I have effected, that is to Messrs. Hack, but from the diffi- culties attending the procuring cash at a moment, I am unavoidably obliged to defer it for a day of two. I have only time to say that I shall fully communicate by next opportunity and accompany such communication by copies of all papers in my possession relating to my charge I may also notice that the £15 offer men- tioned will be entered into with the minu- tiae that from the hurried glance your letter seems to me to demand. I beg to assure you of the immediate remit- tance referred to, and am, by order (being absent), yours, &c, Capt. Finnis (Geo. McLeod) Adelaide, 15/11/1838. John Tooth, Esq., Sydney. Dear Sir - I have the pleasure of acquainting you that I, yesterday, effected a sale of 24 cows at £19 a head to Messrs. Hack. This mail I forward tbe bills that I have now the honour of transmitting, but for them I had to pay £6 as you will perceive by the amount, and the bills, the first of which I transmit by the Henry Freeling herewith. . Without awaiting the long (four or five days), I could not procure commissioners' bills, and as those are good, I preferred to send them to (send ing) gold. I have not sold any bullocks to the butcher.— John Finnis. Adelaide, December 1, 1838.-To His Excellency Col. Gawler, Gover- nor of South Australia. Your Excellency — In conjunction with Capt. Sturt I have brought a very large herd of cattle over- land from Sydney, New South Wales. I need not mention to Your Excellency that very much loss must occur from any sud- den removal from where no one had ever before stationed himself. I am, there- fore, very sure Your Excellency will do me the justice of permitting my paying any amount Your Excellency may deem equivalent for the occupation of the run I hold. ' I have the honour, &c, to., John Finnis. Reference to Capt. Sturt. Adelaide, 19/12/1838.-R. Barnard; Esq. Sir - I beg to acquaint you that I attended according to appointment at 5 p.m. on the 17th inst. when I received your lettsr, but regretted, to find after waiting a considerable time, I was the only one who kept the appoint- ment. With regard to the subject of your communication, I beg to acquaint you that whatever time Mr. G. Strangways ap- points to receive personally his cattle, l am prepared to admit their removal, but as it may inconvenience Mr. Strangways to proceed there (Mr. Boucher), his writ- ten order, delivered to me in town, will be sufficiently satisfactory. Rcspecting the class of cattle mentioned in your let- ter, I beg to refer Mr. Strangways to a communication from me, dated May 21, 1838. I am, &c, John Finnis December, 1838. John Tooth, Esq., Syd- ney. Dear Sir-I have the pleasure of en- closing bills to the amount of £1,750, the best I could procure in the colony. Thet cattle I am compelled to sell in small quantities, such as two or three at a time, as fast as tbe butchers will take them. I will sell for cash, not without, and forward on by bills the amount to you . My object in telling Capt. Sturt that I would give £15 per head, was that they should not be sold for less. I, however, also stated that I could not do so without your consent, but as it meets your approval, I will take them at £15 per head and transmit by every immediate opportunity such sums to you as will, at an early period, enable me to liquidate the amount. Regarding the rate per diem of a dray and working bullocks men- tioned in your letter. I would refer you to Capt. Sturt as the head authority for ascertaining the truth of the report. From my previous observation you will notice that sales of large numbers cannot at once be effected; time and caution are therefore necessary in order to ensure safe purchasers. I am glad to acquaint you Mrs. Finnis arrived safe and well (in John Pirie, from Sydney 13/11/38). She requests to be kindly remembered to Mrs. Tooth, yourself, and family. I need scarcely add that her best wishes are also those of John Finnis. Mrs. Finnis was Ludovina da Silva, widow of Col. Came- ron, she who married Capt. John Finnis after the death of Col. Cameron. Mrs. Finnis was mother of Mrs. G. S. Kingston and grandmother of Charles Cameron Kingston, and her daughter, who married William Hampden Dutton, was mother of Mrs. (Dr.) R. W. Moore. Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Dutton arrived per Parland from Sydney, December 28, 1838.) 'Anxious to Go Squatting.' Date not clear, but probably January, 1839. Capt. Sturt. Varroville, near Liver- pool, N.S.W. My Dear Sir— I received your' letter by the Parland (arrived 26/12/1838), and was much pleased to learn that you found all your family well on your arrival from this province. My wife, as you will know, has joined me since you left, so I now find myself quite
at home here. A great alteration has taken place in this town since you left; the people are now anxious to go out squatting, and I expect the old hands will go into the country and make room for the new ones that are coming into the province every week in large numbers. You will be pleased to learn that I have become the proprietor of the run at Mount Barker, having purchased a special survey of 4,000 acres in conjunction with Dutton and Macfarlane. This circumstance has caused much sensation here, and has considerably annoyed Hack and McLaren, who both would have taken it had they dreamed that anybody else was about it. But we Botany Bay squatters gave them no time, but clapped our hands upon it at once. You will see all about it in the paper which Dutton will forward for your perusal. All the people are looking out for your coming here as Surveyor-General. I trust we will soon see you here in that capacity. Dutton has promised to see you, I therefore refer you to him for further news, and remain, John Finnis. Adelaide, January 2, 1S39. — Boucher, Esq. Dear Sir— I have no objection to accept your offer, and do hereby agree to sell a lot of cows at £18 per head, and also of allowing you to select them with calves by their side, the calves being in cluded in the sale, and as many more cows as may be judged to be in calf as you may think proper, to the number of 50 or 60, together with the Devon bull at £50; the stock to be delivered. I also will assist in branding them at your sta tion on. any day that you may name. The whole, to be delivered within 14 days if requisite, the same to be paid for on de livery.— John Finnis. - Hot Days. Adelaide, January 2, 1838, John Tooth, Esq. Sydney. My dear Sir— In my last, by the David, Capt. Hart, I had the .pleasure of transmitting first set of bill? for £1,750. I now enclose the second series. From the state of the weather lately (the thermometer a few day» ago was at 119 in the shade) I thought it far better not to run the risk of opening a butcher's shop, although at first I con sidered it the most eligible mode of quickly disposing of the cattle. I have, however, found since my first communication that the demand is not equal to even so rapid and ready sales as I can effect otherwise; the expense and risk therefore of such an establishment is thus sared, which -1 am quite sure you will approve of. Re ferring to a paragraph in your letter wherein a clergyman (Mr. Milne) is re presented as likely' * to become the purchaser of the whole herd at £15 per head as stated to you in Capt. Sturt's note of 23/11/33. I am quite sure by a reference to the 'newspapers I regularly send you, you will perceive the probability of the result, Lad I allowed it, of such a sale. The account between Capt. Sturt and myself for the expedition on o/ir arrival here I wall trans mit by an early opportunity. Permit me, however, to remark that had the feeling of partnership existed for the benefit (if the speculation it would not 1iave been unseemly to have advanced from the pro ceeds of the sales of his horses and bul locks, such money as -was absolutely requiste on arrival, instead of requesting me to sign in conjunction with himself, the, orders you mentions I sold my horse to meet the then exigency. True, I could have realized sufficient' cash for all pur poses, but it must have been at a heavy sacrifice, which I feel assured you would not have approved of, but having accepted your offer, as you will notice by my last, I shall drop the subject for a day or two. I think it is almost unnecessary my again saying that every exertion for your in terests and speedy remittances will occupy my constant attention. Mr. and Mm W. Hampd«-n Dutton have just arrived, all well. Mrs. Finnis', I am glad to say, is ip good health, and all join cordially with myself in wishing Mrs. Tooth, yourself and family our best regards and the com pliments of the new year.— John Finnis. Tenders for Drays. . Adelaide, January 14, 1839, To the Hon. the i-lonial Secretary. Sir— I do myself the kon&ir of tendering for the carriage of Government and Commis sioners' goods at the following rates, viz.: —For one 4-bulIock dray load, £1 8/; for one 0-bullock dray load, £1 15/.— John Finnis. Adelaide, February 4, 1839. Messrs. Montefiore, Breillat & Co., Sydney. Dear Sirs— I beg to acknowledge tlie receipt of yours dated 12/12/38 per Nereus, and to acquaint you that as far as lies in my power I will abide by your instructions for the payment of the sum of £2,500. It is- necessary, however, for me to- infomi you that I have already remitted on to Mr. Tooth tbe sum of £1.750: the first set of bills were forwarded by the David, Capt. Hart, and I trust long ere this have come to hand. I beg to assure you that I will use every endeavour to expedite your wishes by paying into the hands of Mr. Newland (Bank of Australasia) as early as possible such sums as I may be enabled to procure. Sales are easily effec ted for all kinds of goods, but under the circumstances I could not thing of accept ing for cattle. The disposal of cattle at this season of the year is very tedious, as from the extreme heat of the weather the butchers do not like tilling, and more so because sheep are becoming my abundant, chiefly by the constant arrivals from Launceston, and consequently to force .the market would be ruinous to .ill parties. I have only again to add, gentle mene, that every exertion to meet the sub ject of your communication will be made by— John Finnis. West terrace, Adelaide, February 0, 1839 The Hon. the Colonial Secretary, Ade laide.— Sir— On my tender being accepted for the carriase of goods it was with the distinct understanding that all the Government carriage, including, of course, the Survey Department, should be placed in my hands, I am, on good authority, in formed that the commissary ha's hired drays without even acquainting me with what he might require for the sen-ice of that department, and, as drays and bul locks are constantly kept for the imme diate service of Government at a heavy expense, may I beff that such instructions i as you may seem proper, be given to that I officer to prevent the recurrence to me of so serious a loss.— John Finnis. , Buying' Grain. Adelaide, 25/5/1839. ' Connolly & Co., Launceston. Gentlemen— I have to acknowledge your letter dated 30/3/1839, accompanying three several parcels of grain (D over W), 63 bags containing 200 bushels of wheat; D overB, 15 bags .con taining 50 bushels of barley; D over O, 16 bags containing 50 . bushels of oats, .which came safe to hand and in good con dition per 'Henry Freeling.' I regret tbe invoice was not included as mentioned. — John Finnis. Adelaide, June 1, 1839. John Knott, Esq. My Dear Knott— I beg to confide the enclosed letter of Mr. Moore to your care and discretion, during my absence. You will observe it specifies prices to ?which, as the transfer of my charge, I leave . to: you, well knowing from your superior judgment, nothing contrary to the. interest of Mr. Moore will be sus- 1 tained. All expense Mr. Moore will de-' fray, but place same to my account as bis agent and should you be fortunate enough to find and sell said horses, after deducting expenses, place amount to credit of that gentleman by deposit in Bank of Austra lasia, making a secondary; matter of niy own. May -I ask'.your1 attention to any stray beasts of mine and- cause same to be delivered to 'Xapt- Walker, who is hereby authorized to pay all. expenses.— i John Finnis. . Trouble '-With Stray Cattle. I Adelaide,. June- 1, 1S39. Capt. Walker, Adelaide:' ' My Dear 'Siri-In : sending the accompanying power of attorney to you.! will you add to past kindness and atten- 1 tion the troubles; of receiving such' stray' cattle as may come into town and sell the same to best advantage. As if, it is pro-: bable some invoices will reach here daring - my absence, front- the .adjacent colonies/ ' .-; ?; ??.??.v:t:i-?;-:.'l-.v..---.c'^,ia,^ii^c« ' M
be good enough to do as in the case .of the cattle. As a very' short time will elapse before I return, again permit me to wish Mrs. Walker and yourself duriug my absence and through life every com fort and happiness that can attend you. — John Finnis. Adelaide, September 9, ISIS). Mcsets. S. Peek & Co., Sydney. Gentlemen— Capt. Finnis not yet having arrived from Sydney* and being unable to observe your account in his books, I beg that if* not too troublesome, a copy of particulars may be forwarded by first opportunity as Capt. Finnis at the date of the purchase re ferred by your communication of August 8, 1S39 was then in South Australia. I am, however, directed to say that as .it is Mrs. Finnis's belief the account is cor refct, if not since settled, application had better be made to W. Hampden Duftou, .Lsq.— George McLeod. -..,., 'Dirty Work.' Adelaide, December 15, 1839. H. C. Dutton, sen. ./*),. ;SXdnp.v^. (?)-Dc.-.r JJurton— I am happy to inform you of pur arrival here on the Oth safe and well, and found Ludy the same 'and in good Miirits I arranged to get in the lionsa without or any one person seeing me, which gave her a great surprise when she found we out. Things are strangely different liore now to what they were when I left. Everything is very dead for the want of some more ships in; there is several over due, and things will take a turn when they arrive. 1 find — Ins made a a very fine mess of Mount Barker for us. I have been trying to get the plan of the sections to send you by this ship, but have not succeeded. I will have it for you by the next opportunity. I find there is but one section 'taken for us on the river, and that in the station you saw Mr Rankin on. Ho has allowed other parties ' to take all the rest. I must tell you l! have had a serious quarrel with him j about it. He has got his share measured off thinking to turn it all into cash, bi:t . that I will disappoint him in for a dim The day after I arrived I found a j;re.it deal of dirty work going on between — and — . 1 followed them uji till I got the necessary doenments from the butcher, but it was too late for tho paper yesterday, but Stevenson and Mann will have it in the nest, then you will h? able to see all the particulars. 1 will endeavour to give you a rough sketch. Some time back they sold all the butcher 'b stock to a good amount, and in a few days after they tot up a pliop and lowerwl the price of meat to 8tl. per Hi., thinking | to crush all the butchers by §o dome but the butchers have stood it out. Finding themselves losing by their shop and we in the market they call a mcetin:; privately of all the butchers and make them sign n bond each separately nut to take meat from any other person bnt them, and they would give up the shop and raise the price of meat to 1/ per lti. all the week. I have been working tn get one of these bonds, and yesterday I pot it. The whole will be submitted to the public this week. I will send you a. copy of it next ship. Duncan arrived safe last Wednesday without the loss of any thing. Six sheep were fpeared by the natives at (he Dai-linp;, but they did imt jtet one of them. 1 have formed a station CO miles to the north: the dray starts to-morrow with the shearing materials. Ewan (Cameron) will be in tbe latter part of this week. I have had several parties after sliecp. but I will not sell under pricf- ewes 45/ to 30/, wethers SO/ to 40/, tilj I see Frederick or you. A very lucky thing I came in in time to meet them, but I knew neither one of you would be here. I have met some gentlemen fropi Swan River and King George's Sound, and I think I will be able to make n pond bargain there, but you must not think I will make a 'Parland' (a ship ats) job pf It. You have never sent Walker instructions what all thepo weds were for; there is enough to stock, all the colony for 20 years. The reason I favour the station to.'tbe northward, there is nothing but 'scab' sheep all over Mount Barker. The place where they are there is no sheep within 20 miles, and a very fine country. It is a very great disappointment from not finding you nn your way here. The young lady is quite angry with you for not sending Ludy (wime nvsging). To be continued.