Part I: Biography
Prologue: The wealthy Farie family owned the coal mine at Farme Colliery, near Rutherglen, Scotland and possibly had shipping interests in Liverpool, England. James Farie and his wife were the recipients of the covers and letters, and his father was known to have purchased the land at Farme and also an ancient castle dating to 1352 from the Duke of Hamilton. Rutherglen near Glasgow (as frequently shown on the covers’ address) in 1831 had a population of only 5,503, while that of Glasgow was 202,426. Rutherglen and surrounds on the Clyde River were rich in coal and James was a powerful member of the Glasgow Coal Company, a coal monopoly of which James and his father owned one-sixteenth.
James and his wife Jean Scott had 6 children (4 sons, including one named Claud, and 2 daughters) enumerated in Scottish records of 1841. The fortunes of the family peaked about 1880, and they had a country mansion at Baronald House in Lanark, Strathclyde Scotland which remained in the family’s hands until at least the 1930’s. This magnificent house was converted to the still standing Cartland Bridge Hotel in 1962, and the conversion is central to the covers and letters sent from the Colony of Victoria to Rutherglen, that form the central theme of this paper. Figure 1 shows Claud Farie.
Claud Farie was born in Rutherglen in 1817 and he arrived in Port Phillip in January 1840. He was described as a Government officer and a pastoralist in the Western District (Marong Run). He went to Van Diemen’s Land and married Jane Cox there in ?1846. He returned to Port Phillip (after short stays in England and India) and by 1852 he was appointed by the Lieutenant- Governor Latrobe, Sheriff of Melbourne. He was a Member of the Legislative Council from 1854-58, He continued to discharge his Sheriff duties right up to his death from blood poisoning in August 1870 at the age of 53, and at this time he was a widower leaving 2 sons and 2 daughters.
He was very active in the affairs of the colony, and was a director of several clubs and societies (president of the Melbourne Club and vice-president of St. Andrew’s Society of Australia Felix), as well as Commander of the Southern Rifles. The Victorian gold rush had a deleterious effect on his finances for he was forced to sell his stock as he had great difficulties in finding men to work on his property. Fig. 1 is taken from his obituary in the Illustrated Australian News (September 10, 1870) and his funeral was conducted by the Right Rev. Bishop of Melbourne. “His career in the Colony was one which gained for him the high respect of the community.”
Extracts from Claud’s first 2 letters addressed to his family home in July 1840 and June 1842 give intriguing information concerning the early Colony of Victoria prior to its separation from New South Wales. “There was a man murdered at a cattle station near Mount Rouse a month ago in the most treacherous and cold blooded manner. Nearly all my neighbours have been losing sheep lately. They (aborigines) came to one of Mr. Black’s outstations in the most daring manner in open day and drove off 90 sheep. The black scoundrels could not be found, not withstanding the strictest search by a party of mounted men. I think Mr. Black’s men are afraid of the natives or this might not have happened. They allowed them to come up to the hut and spoke to them in the most friendly manner for a short time, then grasping their spears as if they would throw them at the men if they dared to interfere, they rushed the flocks and drove off unharmed the above number of sheep….the two men who were both well armed, each having a double barrelled gun and a brace of pistols which ought to have brought four of the black rascals to their bearings … and the rest would have taken to their heels….I never let any of them …. to come closer than 50 or 60 yards without making them throw away their spears and hold up their open hands….whenever I fall in with any of them I threaten them with instant death if they don’t “Gigo Mage” (go away)…. (I) hope by keeping them at a distance to prevent loss to myself and also save spilling of their blood which I certainly could not bring myself to do unless driven to extremity for the defense of my own life”.
“I have fenced 11 acres of beautiful rich land equal to any of the Farme’s houghs, in which I mean to sow 4 acres of wheat, 4 of oats, 1 of potatoes and 1 of Indian corn….. I am now comfortably settled in my hut, which is one of the best and at the same time, one of the cheapest in the colony. It cost me about gbp 30 (£30) but had I erected it in the same way (as in Farme) it would have cost gbp 50. It is built of stringy bark slabs and thatched with grape and floored with timber, a luxury seldom met in the bush. It consists of only 2 apartments, a sitting room of 18ft x 12 and a bedroom of 14ft x 12 which are considered large rooms for this laborous country.”
“I have been here (in Melbourne) for rather more than a month, partly on business partly on pleasure …. the former is rather an unpleasant affair… prosecuting a Brother Squatter for damages sustained to my stock in consequent of his driving his scabby sheep over my Place, whereby my clean sheep caught the disease. I lay my damages at £500 and leave very little doubt of the claim being sustained…. There has been a great deal of gayety and amongst others there was a grand ball on the Queen’s birthday at which about 50 of us turned out in fancy dress. I went as a fox hunter in full tog. It was really a very capital ball and I enjoyed myself amazingly….. You will also have seen an account of the gallant behaviour of some friends of mine in capturing 4 bush rangers in the neighbourhood lately…. This is the first attempt that has been made at bush rangers in Port Phillip… the settlers have offered to form themselves into a corps of mounted volunteers for the suppression of such crimes in the future …. but we have not received His Excellency’s answer to our proposal. …I am sure I have great reason to be thankful ….. I think my losses by them (the blacks) altogether during the two years and a half that I have been here amount to about 50 sheep and 1 cow.”
Epilogue: The Faire family’s Farme colliery at its peak in 1908 had 201 workers underground and 67 workers above ground and they produced 3 types of coal, for gas, manufacturing and household. Rutherglen encapsulated the Scottish decline in coal, for by the first World War the coal was gone, mined to exhaustion. The colliery was shown in a 1914 map, but it closed down in 1916. The most lasting memory of the colliery which exists in a museum is a piece of machinery erected in 1809 used to deliver the coal to the surface, known as an atmospheric condensing steam engine. Another lasting legacy is that Rutherglen still has a Farie Street.
Part 2: The Correspondence
Prologue: The Claud Farie correspondence reveals a remarkable philatelic history of the young colony of Victoria, from its earliest days of settlement, until the late 1870’s. Nearly two dozen folded letters and covers recount the changing rates and routes used for delivering the mails from the distant, fledgling colony to the homeland.
The Pre-Colonial period is highlighted by an entire folded letter sent from Melbourne on August 22, 1840, a mere three years after the settlement of Melbourne, and just eight months after the arrival of the first immigrant ship, ‘David Clarke’. When this letter was written, Victoria was not yet recognized as a separate postal authority, and the oval ‘Melbourne New S. Wales’ handstamp on reverse highlights this fact. A boxed red MELBOURNE PAID handstamp on front verifies the 3d payment for postage from the colony (also shown with the manuscript ‘3’ handwritten on the front), and a further ‘8’ in red specifies the payment made by the receiver for the overland delivery in England. A bold receiving mark dated Au 29, 1840 in red stamped on the top right corner, verifies that it was forwarded first to Sydney, then, put aboard an unspecified ship for the voyage home. Presumably, the letter was routed via Calcutta, being receipted on arrival in Plymouth with a two line INDIA LETTER PLYMOUTH hand-stamp, and finally stamped on arrival in Glasgow with two separate hand-stamps, one in black and the other in red, dated 1 Mar 1841. The letter was delivered more than 7 months after its’ departure from Melbourne! Figures 2 – 12, follow.
A second letter, written in 1842, has the same ‘Melbourne New S. Wales’ oval in black on the reverse, dated July 7, 1842, but the handstamp on the front to acknowledge the payment for posting from the colony, had been updated to a new format – a boxed two line PAID AT MELBOURNE. A straight line SHIP LETTER on the reverse indicates its’ mode of delivery and there is no longer any mention of India. A manuscript 3, pencilled in red, specifies the payment made by the sender to pay the ship rate to England, and an additional manuscript 8 in black specifies the payment made by the receiver. The letter was put board the ‘Mary Nixon’, and an arrival handstamp in Glasgow, dated 18 Nov 1842, reveals that delivery time had been reduced to 4 months.
The Early Colonial period is represented by a folded letter posted on May 21, 1853. By that time, Victoria had become a chartered colony with its own postal authority, no longer being a part of NSW. The single weight rate for a ship letter to the UK remained at 3d, but we now see it paid with a margin copy Half Length postage stamp (Ham printing of the third state of the die with frame lines). A manuscript 8 in black specifies, once again, the 8d payment made by the receiver for the overland delivery of the letter in the U.K. The letter was sent aboard the ‘Harbinger’, a steamship making the first voyage under a contract by the General Screw Steamship Company, to deliver the Australian mails. A red oval SHIP LETTER MELBOURNE adorns the front of the cover, and a circular hand stamp in red on the reverse verifies the arrival in Glasgow on Au 20, 1853.
While the 1853 letter described above was franked with a 3d Half Length, prepaying postage with adhesive stamps remained optional until the end of 1854. The next letter, dated Jun 26, 1854, is a late example of such a stampless cover. Two months prior to the posting of this letter, mail rates had been significantly increased to stave off bankruptcy of the young colony. Ship letter rates were quadrupled, from 3d, to a full shilling. Shown on the front of this letter is a red manuscript 1/ indicating the payment for a ship letter to Great Britain, accompanied by a red oval PAID MELBOURNE handstamp. Local newspapers advertised the ships that would be leaving with the mails, and the sender specified this letter for the ‘Swarthmore’ mails, but, a handwritten note on the reverse states ‘too late for Swarthmore’, and it was re-allocated to the ‘Eagle’. A rectangular boxed LIVERPOOL SHIP LETTER arrival stamp dated Sep 28 1854 and an octagonal GLASGOW arrival stamp dated Sep 29th complete the story.
A highlight of the collection is a very fine cover mailed in May 1858. It is both rare, and curious. The postage for the long route mail, via Southampton, was secured with a very rare example of a 6d rouletted woodblock on cover. This magnificent example is rouletted just under 9 on all four sides, suggesting it was done as part of Calvert’s contract during the period October 1857 to March 1858. The letter was sent aboard the European on the 17th northern voyage of the European and Australian company’s contract for the Australian mails. A backstamp verifies that it departed Melbourne on May 15th 1858. The European arrived at Suez on June 30th where the mails were forwarded to Alexandria by train. From there, the long route mails were transported aboard the Teviot, via Gibraltar, to Southampton, arriving on July 21, 1858. This cover, however, has an arrival handstamp in Glasgow dated July 19th, two days prior to the arrival of the long route mails in Southampton. The only possible explanation is that the letter had been forwarded with the Marseilles mails, and delivered without full payment of the 9d rate for that service! If that were the case, it would have been put aboard the Wye at Alexandria, arriving at Marseilles on July 11th, with plenty of time to get to Glasgow by the 19th of the month.
The correspondence includes a number of covers dated from 1864 to 1869, which serve to illustrate the comparative stability of postal rates and routes during those years. Each of the half dozen or so covers posted during these years is franked with 10d postage, paying the single weight rate for the Marseilles route mails at that time.
The Franco-Prussian War in 1870 jeopardized the security of the mail routes through France, the result being that the Australian mails were re-routed via Brindisi, Italy. The single weight rate was reduced to 9d, and the next cover in our correspondence is a slightly damaged, but important example. Sent June 17, 1872, the cover is franked with a 10d Laureate, overprinted NINEPENCE, to pay the new reduced rate. The new route is noted by the sender with a handwritten ‘via Brindisi’.
Two covers, both sent on precisely the same date – May 18, 1874 – serve as perfect examples to illustrate the difference between the long route mails and the Brindisi mails. The first one, franked with a 6d Laureate arrived in Glasgow on July 21st. The other, paying the 9d rate, franked with the new 9d Bell design, and forwarded via Brindisi, arrived July 11th, a full 10 days earlier.
The final cover in the correspondence is dated November 1878, which is franked with a block of four of the 2d Bell design, and annotated by the sender with the familiar ‘via Brindisi’ but, by this time, the cost of postage for the Brindisi route mails had once again been reduced, this time to 8d.
This paper was co-authored with Les Molnar, St. Catharines, ON, Canada and was published in the Australian Commonwealth Collectors Club of New South Wales, 2004, Vol. 43 No. 2, pages 46-53.
Addendum: A cover posted in Melbourne with the ‘1 over V’ Barred Oval was sent to Claude Farie, Sheriff, Supreme Court (Melbourne).
Addendum (April 2010): An obituary was found in The Argus Melbourne 23 August 1870, page 6, headlined DEATH OF MR. CLAUD FARIE, as follows (with minor exclusions): We announce the death of Mr. Claud Farie, sheriff of Melbourne, who expired at his residence, Coburg (Pentridge), yesterday morning. He was not much past the prime of life when he died, having come out to Victoria at a very early age. He was one of a family of 20, and was the son of Mr. James Farie, the owner of a large coal-bearing propety near Glasgow, Scotland. He emigrated to Victoria in 1839, at a little over 20 years of age. He brought with him a good deal of capital which he invested in station property in the Western district. Soon after his arrival he became a joint purchaser with a mr. Rogers, of the Marang run, on the Hopkins (river), but the partneship dissolved, each partner taking the property lying on only one side of the river. When the goldfields broke out Mr. Farie found great difficulty in getting anyone to look after his stock, and he sold his property. In 1852, when Mr. Latrobe was Governor, he was offered, upon the resignation of Mr.J. Simpson, the appointment of sheriff of Melbourne, which he accepted. He entered on his new duties on the 2nd November of that year, and he continued to discharge them until his recent illness and death.
In 1846 he went to Tasmania and while there he married a daughter of Mr. Jas Cox of Clarendon. He came back to Victoria with his wife and shortly afterwards made a trip to India with the view to join his brother in coffee-planting in Ceylon, but did not carry out this plan, and he went to England, for a few months, returning to Victoria after a trip of 18 months or 2 years. He has taken no active part in the political affairs of the country, but he has been long recognised by the general community as a public servant who discharged his duties of an important office faithfully and well. In volunteer circles he was known as a good and efficient officer, and by the members of the corps which he commanded (the Southern Rifles) he was much liked and respected, He was identified with this body from its commencement, and went through all the grades from private to commander. He was universally liked and in private circles his many good qualities caused him to be held in high estimation. He was praised in his official position as conscientious and painstaking, straight forwardness and impartiality. Though apparently a very strong and hearty man, his constitution was not robust as it was thought to be. He also had duties and responsibilies as inspector general of penal establishments. He continued in good health until 3 weeks ago when he had a severe attack of inuenza. He developed symptoms of pyaemia (blood poisoning), had a remission, sank again in spite of medical care and died at the age of 54. he left ason, a naval cadet , and 3 daughters.