Royal Reels: Gambling


This modest cover can introduce one into the fascinating world of hand-struck postmarks of early New South Wales.  I was introduced to the exploration of this subject in my frequent visits to Sydney a decade ago when I became enamored of the subject and bought the four volumes of Hopson & Tobin’s N.S.W. and A.C.T. POST, RECEIVING, TELEGRAPH & TELEPHONE OFFICES, which is the ‘bible’ (and cannot be matched by any other postmark books of colonial and post-Federation Australia. 

Dating for the cover was supplied by the vendor as 1853 and cannot be confirmed or denied by me, but the date is acceptable.  The imperforate Two Pence New South Wales stamp with rosettes in all four corners was first introduced in July 1851, and it is canceled with the barred numeral ‘55′ of Newcastle.   It was addressed to Edward Hamilton Esq, Collaroy, Merriwa (Figure 1).

The reverse confirms that it is a mourning cover of a less common type of the period and even a black sealing wax is substituted for the usual red wax.  There is an indistinct oval originating postmark of NEWCASTLE (9 letters) rather than a reception postmark of MERRIMA (7 letters), and the postmark is both unframed and without serifs, as shown by the ‘NEW. S. WALES’ (at its base).  Only ‘MR [Rosette]’ is discernible in the date (Figure 2).

This configuration of the postmark on the reverse conforms to the ‘O Series’ as shown in Hopson & Tobin which came in 3 distinct types:  Type O (i) can be definitely excluded as it has a border, Type O (ii) can be excluded as it has serifs, and this oval conforms to O (iii).  Merrima does have the Type O (iii) configuration, whereas H & T shows that Newcastle has only the O (ii).  In spite of my calling this source a bible, I have published three articles that their remarkable source is only near-perfect and the length of the postmark’s top line favors Newcastle (Figure 3).

Merriwa appears in the address and not Cassilis N.S.W. and both post offices were open at the time were open.   This is mentioned here, for in the description which follows, of where the property Collaroy is mentioned, it is cited as ‘near Cassilis’.  Callaroy (misspelled) is shown on the map midway between the 2 towns in the central-east of NSW, west of Musswellbrook (Figure 4).

Edward William Terrick Hamilton was born on 26 November 1809 at Loughton, Essex, England, son of Rev. Anthony Hamilton and his wife Charity, née Farquhar.  Edward was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (B.A., 1832; M.A. 1835), and a fellow in 1834-42.  He was admitted to the Inner Temple on 2 November 1832, but later decided to abandon law to follow ‘a pastoral life’ in New South Wales, hoping thereby to make enough money to enable him to return to England and live as a leisured gentleman.

In August 1839 he joined his cousin, Captain H. G. Hamilton, R.N., and a friend, George Clive, in buying the pastoral property, Collaroy, near Cassilis.  Edward, who was junior to Clive in the venture, went out to New South Wales to manage the property, arriving with his brother in February 1840.   For almost fifteen years Hamilton managed Collaroy, along with other properties that he acquired.   The partnership, although stormy, was financially successful after many vicissitudes.  In January 1855 he returned to England, and the partnership was angrily dissolved.

In July 1843 he had been appointed one of the six unofficial nominees in the Legislative Council.  He resigned in 1846, was reappointed in December 1848 and retired in 1850.  He took little part in colonial politics and his most controversial public act was to castigate his fellow squatters because they opposed the Governor George Gipps’ proposed squatting regulations of 1844.  In 1851-54 he was the first provost (later called chancellor) of the University of Sydney.

Hamilton was governor of the Australian Agricultural Co. from August 1857 to September 1898. He must be credited for most of the company’s increased profits after 1857, and he retained other connections with New South Wales, as he became its representative agent in London in January 1863 and kept in touch with colonial acquaintances.

Hamilton had strong intellectual powers and a high opinion of his abilities.  Although not vindictive he was very argumentative.  He was quick to portray himself as the victim of ‘the treachery of false friends’ and at times he wrote acid comments on colonial leaders with whom he associated.  He never doubted his superiority over members of the middle class and the lower orders, although his ideas were slightly ‘liberalized’ by his years in the colony.  On 14 August 1844 he had married Ann, daughter of John Thacker, of Berkshire and N. S. W.   In 1865-69 Hamilton represented Salisbury in the House of Commons, London and was sheriff of Berkshire in 1879.  He died on 28 September 1898 at his home in Berkshire, predeceased by his wife and survived by two sons and six daughters.   A picture of Edward Hamilton is seen in Figure 5.

I acknowledge that most of the information on Hamilton was derived from the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Categories: Mourning Covers, Postmarks