RICHARD G. MEARES & REVETT H. BLAND,
BOTH RESIDENTS, YORK, W.A.
This 1849 part-entire to “N.G. Meares Esq., Resident, York” has a fine strike of the [Crown]/ GENERAL/ POST OFFICE/ PERTH and is endorsed with a manuscript ‘Free’. It also has a manuscript R.H. Bland at lower left. The vendor states that it is rare intra-Colonial mail (of the Swan River Colony, Perth) and the content is a piece of rolicking patriotic doggerel that mentions an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria, which must have been that of 1849. By 1834 Bland had been appointed Resident of York and Meares was presumably his successor. Meares was also Acting Colonial Secretary in 1849 until March 1850 and it was during this short period that he would have enjoyed free franking privilege (Figures 1 & 2).
There is a problem with the addressee’s name, for he is shown as N.G. Mearis, but the subsequent research confirms he was Richard Goldsmith Meares. Meares was born in 1780 in England, joined the army in 1808 as Lieutenant and later served under Wellington at Lisbon and Belgium. By 1817 he was promoted to Captain and the next year he retired on half pay. Previously in 1808 he had married Eleanor Seymour and in 1829, he with his wife and eight children arrived at Swan River in the Gilmore. In 1832 he moved to Guildford and for a short period he was appointed district superintendent. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace and in 1840-41 was government resident for the Murray district. In 1842 he moved to York as its government resident with magisterial duties, as well as registrar, statistician, collector of land fees, organizer of road repair and bridge building, and member of the local school committee.
The opening of the convict hiring depot at York increased his duties, but the district gained a court house, hospital, good roads and an Anglican chaplain. His early administration was enlivened with squabbles with settlers, aboriginals and neighbouring government residents. He mellowed with the years and resigned as government resident in 1859. His wife died in 1854 and he died on 9 January 1862, and was buried in the old York cemetery.
Revett Henry Bland was born in England in 1811 and was intended for the medical profession, but he arrived in the Swan River Colony in 1829, where he was appointed as superintendent of government stock at York. In 1831 he led an expedition through the Darling Range and he established a government farm at York. By 1834 he was the resident of York and a Justice of the Peace.Bland was appointed as protector of Aborigines for his 'thorough knowledge of the native character, acquaintance with their languages, great firmness combined with mildness of temper, long experience as a Magistrate, and a high reputation for integrity and respectability which gives him considerable influence among both the colonists and the native population in the York district'. Bland was in this office in October 1843 when he was granted eighteen months leave to go to England for treatment of his eyes. He left in November and returned to York in 1845. He was acting colonial secretary in 1849, his eye condition deteriorated, he resigned and went to England for treatment again.
Bland's interests were diverted to Victoria where his business acumen and contacts with the London Stock Exchange led to his appointment as resident director of the Port Phillip and Colonial Gold Mining Co. which had been launched in England with a royal charter. Bland managed the Clunes Quartz Mining Company for over thirty years and its success must to some extent be attributed to his initiative. In 1863-65 Bland was a director of the National Bank, invited by the board probably in the hope of capturing valuable mining accounts. I n 1881 he was a juror for the Australian International Exhibition and was offered a medal for his impartial and painstaking efforts.
On 28 March 1838 at Guildford, near Perth, he had married Emily Lutzen; she died in childbirth on 24 August 1845 aged 30. On 26 December 1848 at St George's Church, Perth, Bland married the widow Martha Emma Hinds, née McCallum. She and their four children predeceased Bland who died on 18 February 1894 at Clunes and was buried in the Melbourne general cemetery.
The relationship of York (arrow) ca. eighty kilometres east of Perth is seen in Figure 3.
This is a wonderful cover, uniting 2 early settlers in Western Australia. Both of them are written about in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, from which I have extracted the information for this paper.