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South Wales became a convict settlement, the arrangements made for the occupation of the country, the equipment and despatch of the vessels which formed the First Fleet, the voyage to Botany Bay, which was chosen in the first instance as the site for the new colony, the rejection of Botany Bay by Phillip in favour of Port Jackson, the landing at Sydney Cove and the establishment there of the first settlement, the measures taken for the government of the Colony, the difficulties experienced by Phillip owing to the scarcity of food and the unfriendly attitude of the officers who commanded the garrison of marines, the efforts made to explore and cultivate the country, the formation of settlements at Parramatta and Toongabbe, the occupation of Norfolk Island, and other matters which need not be set forth in detail.
The correspondence includes letters from Departments of State to other Departments, letters between Phillip and the Departments while he was watching the arrangements for sending out the First Fleet, despatches sent by Phillip to the Home Office and the Admiralty after his arrival at Sydney, despatches sent from England to the Governor, Phillip's correspondence with Major Ross and other officers of the Marines, arising out of questions of duty and discipline, despatches from the commandants of Norfolk Island to Phillip, despatches from the officer in command of the Marines to the Admiralty, and correspondence between Phillip and officers of the Civil Staff upon matters affecting the welfare of the Settlement. There are also letters and papers showing what steps were taken during Phillip's Governorship to procure provisions and live stock from India, Batavia, and the Cape of Good Hope, and accounts written by responsible officers describing the loss of the Sirius and the Guardian when carrying supplies for the Settlements, the former for Norfolk Island, the latter for Sydney.
This part of the Records contains the commissions given to Phillip and his staff, the Order of the King in Council (Geo. III) appointing New South Wales a place to which convicts might be sent, the Royal Instructions given to Phillip before he sailed, and the Additional Instructions sent to him after his arrival at Sydney, the Letters Patent constituting Law Courts and a Court of Vice
Admiralty in New South Wales, the form of land grant given to the first settler, public orders promulgated at Sydney and Norfolk Island, and other official documents.
Extracts from the Banks Papers are also given here, but the number is comparatively small. Although Sir Joseph Banks had a great deal to do with the foundation of the Colony, his name seldom appears in the official correspondence, and in the papers purchased from Lord Brabourne there is little trace of his connection with the deliberations which led to the despatch of the First Fleet. But in papers of later date the active interest he took in the welfare of the new settlement and the influence he exerted are abundantly shown. That Sir Joseph Banks had access to Phillip's despatches may be inferred from the extracts in his own handwriting which have been found amongst his papers, and that he enjoyed the confidence of Ministers may be gathered from the fact that drafts of their despatches and instructions form part of the manuscripts purchased from Lord Brabourne by the Government of this Colony.
The collection does not contain many papers relating either to the establishment of the Colony or the time of Phillip's Government, but some of them are of great interest, those, for example, which relate to the Mutiny of the Bounty. Captain Bligh, who commanded that vessel on its memorable voyage, owed his appointment to Sir Joseph Banks, to whom he wrote, according to his own statement, a fuller account of the affair than the official report which he sent to the Admiralty. In one respect this is true, for while the official report begins with the arrival of the Bounty at the Cape of Good Hope on the voyage from England to Otaheite, the account sent to Banks sets forth the object of the expedition—the carrying of the bread-fruit tree from the Society Islands to Jamaica-and gives a short statement concerning the fitting out of the Bounty and the instructions given to her commander. It also briefly describes the voyage from England to the Cape. But as regards the mutiny, and the adventures of Bligh and his companions after they had been cast adrift in the Bounty's launch, the official account is the fuller of the two, and carries the story to a later date. The account sent to Banks will be found at pp. 268-278. Bligh's official despatch, which was not received in time for insertion in the body of the volume, is given in Appendix A, together with four letters from Bligh to the Admiralty reporting the movements of the Bounty on the voyage to the Cape.
There are also among the extracts made from the Banks Papers some highly-interesting letters relating to the expedition of discovery and survey to the North-West Coast of America made by Captain Vancouver, under instructions from the English Government. Another series of letters which passed between Mr. W. Richards, junr., a navy contractor, and Sir Joseph Banks is valuable, because of the light it throws upon the transportation arrangements of the early days. The correspondence also contains proposals on the part of Mr. Richards to go out to New South Wales as a settler, and to open a public store in Sydney. About this time the emigration question was under Sir Joseph Banks's notice in another shape, as will be seen from a plan briefly sketched in his handwriting, for establishing a number of families on an estate in the new settlement to be allotted by the Government.* A memorandum found among the papers, occupying only three lines of type, is of peculiar interest, for it records the fact that Sir Joseph Banks could have held office if he had chosen to do so, and that he refused the distinction because he considered that his services would be of more value to the Colony if he kept aloof from political responsibilities.f few other papers from the collection are also published, but they do not require special notice.
The Historical Records relating to the foundation of the Colony begin with “A Proposal for Establishing a Settlement in New South Wales," written, in August, 17831, by Mr. James Maria Matra, of Marston House, Frome, Somersetshire, and No. 4. Duke-street, Grosvenor Square, London. Little is known of this gentleman at the present day, beyond the fact that he was for a time the Consular representative of Great Britain in Morocco; but he was undoubtedly a man of position and influence, or his proposal would not have commanded the attention it received from English ministers. Matra is a name well-known in Corsican history; and it is more than probable that James Maria Matra, who was certainly an English subject either by birth or naturalization, was of Corsican origin. In the early part of the Eighteenth Century the Marquis Matra occupied a position of political importance in Corsica. During the years 1741–48, according to Boswell's “Account of Corsica,'* one of the Matras and his fellow-countryman, Gaffori, were joint Protectors of the Island, and led the Corsicans in their efforts to drive out the Genoese. According to the Nouvelle Biographie Générale, Marius Emmanuel Matra had a command under Pasquale de Paoli in 1754, but turned against his countrymen. He joined the Genoese in an attack on Paoli, and was killed in the encounter. Another Matra (Colonel Antonio Matra), who had joined the Genoese, took part in an attack upon Corsica in 1767. The Marquis Matra had an hereditary enemy in the Marquis Hyacinthe, or Giacinta de Paoli, whose son, Pasquale de Paoli, became in 1755 Dictator of Corsica, a position which he occupied for fourteen years, when he was dispossessed by the French.t In an article published in the Nineteenth Century, July, 1891, Mr. Walter Frewen Lord sketches the career of Pasquale de Paoli, and tells the fate of the Matra family. The Marquis de Paoli maintained “a fierce vendetta all his life with the Marquis Matra,” and when Pasquale de Paoli came into power one of the first steps he took was to « cut off the Matras root and branch.” Mr. Lord puts the thing in another way; the Matras, he says, were “piously exterminated” by Paoli. It is not unreasonable to suppose, however, that some members of the family escaped from Corsica, and found their way to England, at that time the only safe shelter for political refugees. The circumstances are suggestive, but it cannot be assumed that James Maria Matra was one of the refugees of 1755, for in 1783, only twenty-eight years later, he appears to have been living as a well-established English
* Post, p. 424. † Post, p. 229. # Post, pp. 1-6.
* "An Account of Corsica," by James Boswell. Third edition, London, 1769.
† Paoli took refuge in England, where he became an intimate friend of Johnson and Boswell.
gentleman. But Corsica was an uncomfortable place for the Matras long before the time of Pasquale de Paoli, and it is not unlikely that some branch of the family made a home for itself in England early in the eighteenth century. In that case, there is nothing improbable in the supposition that the author of the “Proposal for Establishing a Settlement in New South Wales” was a descendant of one of the Corsican Matras, born in England. Nothing positive can be stated as to Matra's origin, but so much interest attaches to the writer of the Proposal, that his probable connection with the Matras of Corsica cannot be passed over.
Mr. Matra's proposal was laid before the Coalition Government of Fox and Lord North, but the Ministry went out of office in December, 1783, and no action was taken. Mr. Matra's suggestions, however, were made use of by the Pitt Ministry, which succeeded that of Fox and North, in preparing the scheme which was ultimately carried out. In the proposal as originally submitted no allusion was made to sending out convicts, but after conversing with Lord Sydney, who had taken Lord North's place at the Home Office—the department which had the control of Colonial affairs -Mr. Matra wrote an addendum to his paper, in which he adopted the suggestion made by the Minister that New South Wales was a proper place for the reception of convicts condemned to transportation. The scheme thus amended seems to have formed the basis of the proposal of Admiral Sir George Young, forwarded to Lord Sydney in January, 1785, through the Attorney-General, Pepper Arden.* The same ideas appear in another form in a paper without name or date entitled “ Heads of a Plan for effectually disposing of convicts by the establishment of a colony in New South Wales.”+ This paper is official, as shown by Lord Sydney's letter to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, 18th August, 1786,4 and his letter to the Lords of the Admiralty, 31st August, 17869, and the settlement was established practically on the lines laid down in the “Heads of a Plan.”
Preparations for the despatch of the First Fleet were immediately begun, and the vessels sailed in May, 1787. In the * Post, pp. 10-13.
+ Post, pp. 17-20. | Post, pp. 14–16.
§ Post, pp. 20-22.