Royal Reels: Gambling


This long cover has a manuscript ‘No 14 of 1820’at upper left, ‘On H.M.Service’ at upper right and it was addressed to The Right Honble Earl Bathurst K.G., Downing St., London, plus a further manuscript at lower left, Govr Macquarie (Figures 1 and 1A).

An additional Macquarie item was the letter he wrote to Messrs Wilson & Son, Bannockburn, Stirling, Scotland on 7 May 1810, relating to provision of the uniforms for the regiment ….. “purchased by the Quarter Master of the Corps who ought to have settled with you…..Mr McIntosh has, however made every atonement in his power and has entered into an engagement to discharge his debt… the course of a couple months he will certainly be able to make you a sufficient remittance…” The letter is signed by ‘L. Macquarie, Lt. Col. 73d Regt’ and his signature is shown in Figure 2.

Henry Bathurst, 3rd Earl Bathurst (22 May 1762 -27 July 1834) was a member of the UK Parliament from 1783 until he succeeded to the earldom in August 1784. Owing mainly with his friendship with William Pitt, he was Lord of the Admiralty from 1783-89, a Lord of the Treasury from 1789-91, and commissioner of the board of control from 1793-1802. At the time of the first letter in 1820, he had been Secretary for War and the Colonies from 1812- 27, and the notation on the letter ‘No. 14 of 1820′, suggested that Macquarie reported frequently to him.

In regards to the first cover, in 1817 Bathurst was made a Knight of the Garter, which explains the ‘K.G.’ in his address. In regards to the entire sent to Scotland in 1810 the vendor stated that “Pre-1828 holograph letters from the governors are rarely offered, most being held in public institutions”. The estimate for this item was AUD 10,000 and it sold for AUD 11,000.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie is an icon of almost mythical proportions in Australian history, and he warrants the ten page biography in the on-line Australian Dictionary of Biography. He was born according to a note in his own hand in a family bible on 31 January 1762 on the island of Ulva in the inner Hebrides, Scotland. In 1777 he obtained an ensigncy in the second battalion of the 84th regiment, and he was first posted to Nova Scotia in October 1776, and later to New York and Charleston. By 1781 he was a lieutenant posted to Jamaica, returning to Scotland in 1784. In 1788, he was in Bombay as a captain-lieutenant, and (fast forward)………………………….he entered Port Jackson on 28 December 1809 and was sworn in on New Year’s Day 1810 as Governor of N.S.W.

Addressing the citizens at the ceremony he expressed the hope that the recent dissensions would now give way to a more becoming harmony among all classes. Officers displaced since Bligh’s arrest were reinstated and all other acts of the ‘revolutionary’ government annulled. After Bligh arrived in Sydney on 17 January it required all the tact that Macquarie could muster to keep his relations with his predecessor more or less amicable until Bligh finally sailed for home on 12 May. With the past out of the way Macquarie could devote his undivided attention to the present and the future. He had been pleasantly surprised to find the colony thriving and hoped that he would be able to pass 5-6 years pleasantly enough. He was promoted colonel in 1810, brigadier in 1811 and major-general in 1813, while serving as governor.

Macquarie ruled the colony as an enlightened despot. He ordered construction of roads, bridges, wharves, churches, Sydney Hospital and public buildings. He appointed magistrates to outlying posts such as V.D.L. (Tasmania) and the future New Zealand, and founded new towns such as Richmond, Windsor, Castlereagh, Wilberforce, and Liverpool, N.S.W. He appointed a Colonial Secretary, a government printer and architect. He insisted that convicts whose terms had expired or commuted should be treated as social equals of the free settlers. In exchange he demanded that the ex-convicts live reformed lives, and in particular insisted on proper marriages. Examples of these men were Francis Greenaway (colonial architect), Dr. William Redfern (colonial surgeon) and Andrew Thompson (magistrate).

He was a great sponsor of the early explorers, Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson, as well as John Oxley, and his name was soon to adorn so many places (River, Mount, Lake, Port, Harbour, Street, Place, Lighthouse, Island, etc. etc.). Elizabeth Bay and Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair were named after his wife. Leaders of the free settler community, Wentworth and Macarthur, complained to London about Macquarie’s policies and in 1819 the English judge, John Bigge, visited N.S.W. and reported on the administration, generally agreeing with the settlers’ criticisms, and his report led to Macquarie’s resignation in 1821. Macquarie returned to Scotland and died in London in 1824. To-day he is regarded by many as the real founder of Australia as a country, rather than a prison camp. Places and things have continued to be named after him even until recent times, e.g. Macquarie University and the Macquarie Dictionary. A drawing of Macquarie is shown in Figure 3.

This paper relies largely on the on-line A.D.B. and the wikipedia site.

Categories: Governors, Political