Darling despatch to Bathurst 1819
Colonial Office and predecessors: Mauritius, Original Correspondence.
Original-Secretary of State. Despatches. January to June 1819.
The National Archives CO 167/45
The following are transcripts of the documents included in the despatch from the Acting Governor of Mauritius, Major General Ralph Darling, to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Earl Bathurst, dated 18 March 1819.
Batelage is translated into English as “Lighterage” where a lighter is a small boat used for ferrying goods and people between ships or between ships and the shore. Lighterage or Lightering is the process of carrying out this task.
The Governor of Mauritius from 4 December 1810 to 20 May 1823 was Sir Robert Farquhar. He returned to England from 10 November 1817 until 6 July 1820 and was represented by a number of Acting Governors during these years. They were: Major General Gage John Hall (10 November 1817 – 10 December 1818), Colonel Sir John Dalrymple (10 December 1818 – 6 February 1819) and Major General Sir Ralph Darling (6 February 1819 – 6 July 1820).
Covering despatch Major General Ralph Darling – 18 March 1819
The Earl Bathurst
18th March 1819
In transmitting to Your Lordship the enclosed Memorial of Mr Marshall, the person who, during the Administration of M. General Hall, undertook the Contract for the Batelage, I am not aware I can add anything to what that Gentleman has stated. – The present Memorial is dated as far back as December last, but Colonel Dalrymple had no opportunity of transmitting it previous to my arrival. In this, Mr. Marshall alludes to the motives which prevented Major General Hall from forwarding the former Memorial – and I have caused the necessary reference to be made to the Vendue Master, to ascertain the correctness of Mr. Marshall’s statement with respect to the mode adopted by M General Hall to raise the Biddings in terms of the Contract. – I presume from Colonel Draper’s statement, a copy of which I have the honor to enclose herewith, Your Lordship will consider it reasonable under the circumstances of the case, to afford Mr. Marshall some relief. I must at the same time request to be favored with Your Lordship’s Commands as to the Contract being closed, there appearing no chance whatever, of Mr. Marshall being able to fulfil his Engagement. Colonel Dalrymple was so well satisfied of this when the last Installment [sic] became due, that he authorised suspension of the payment on Mr. Marshall’s giving Security for the amount, in the event of Your Lordship thinking proper to enforce the Contract.
I can only add that Mr. Marshall is represented to me as a diligent, respectable man, who was anxious to obtain Employment, but who, unfortunately was not sufficiently informed at the time, of the exact extent of the Concern into which he was entering.
I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect, My Lord,
Most obedient, and
Most humble servant
Majr. Genl. Comg
[Across page at base]
Memorial of William Marshall – 31 December 1818
The Right Honorable Earl
Bathurst, Secretary of State
for the Colonial Department
The Memorial of William Marshall
of Port Louis, Island of Mauritius
That in the month of December 1817, the Farm of the Batelage or exclusive privilege of shipping and landing Goods in the harbour of Port Louis, was put up to public auction by the local Government of the said Island of Mauritius and adjudged to Your Memorialist for two years at the rate of Twenty three thousand Dollars for each year, being upwards of Eleven Thousand Dollars per annum more than the said Farm had ever been sold for before.
That Your Memorialist had two reasons for bidding so large a Sum for the said Farm; 1st – Because he was led to suppose by public report that, in Consequence of the representations of Governor Farquhar, the Port would be kept open until the 1st March 1820, and 2dly Because the bids of Your Memorialist from 17,500 to 23,000 Dollars were advanced upon in small Sums, which Your Memorialist thought the result of a fair competition and therefore concluded that if any other person could afford to give so much, He Your Memorialist could do so likewise.
That the Port was shut on the 1st April last whereby the greatest source of the emolument arising from this Farm, was destroyed; That Your Memorialist also discovered that the advancement upon his bids as above stated, was not the result of a fair Competition; for Your Memorialist’s bid was the highest at 17,500 Dollars, yet it was advanced upon by Mr Mongoust the Government Auctionner [sic], and run up in small sums to 23,000 Dollars, contrary to the usual practice of Government after having advertized the Sale of Government Farms or Property to the highest bidder.
That in consequence of the above facts and of the destruction of Your Memorialist’s Boats and implements to a considerable amount by the hurricane of the 1st March last x [in margin x 1818], Your Memorialist set forth his case to the then Acting Governor in a Memorial of which a Copy is hereunto annexed marked A; that the said Acting Governor objected to certain points of this memorial upon which Your Memorialist founded his greatest hopes of relief, but promised, on those objectionable points being left out and the grievances of your Memorialist limited to the effects of the hurricane, to forward the Memorial to Your Lordship with his strong recommendation; that the Memorial was altered accordingly as will appear by a Copy thereof as altered also hereunto annexed and marked B.
That the said altered Memorial was presented early in April last, and Your Memorialist concluded that it would be forwarded to Your Lordship by the first opportunity, but in the beginning of the present month of December & a few days previous to the departure of the Acting Governor for England, the said Memorial was returned to Your Memorialist.
That the disbursements of Your Memorialist during the first Year have amounted to upwards of Sixty thousand 60,000 Dollars, Seventeen Thousand Two hundred and Fifty (17,250) of which have been paid to Government, and his receipts have not exceeded Forty thousand (40,000) Dollars, so that Your Memorialist finds himself unable to pay to Government the last term of his purchase Money for the first year, and is forced to apply to the Local Government for permission to let this Payment stand over until Your Lordship’s decision shall arrive here, particularly as it is not the fault of Your Memorialist that the matter has not been submitted to Your Lordship before. –
Your Memorialist therefore trusts that Your Lordship will take his case into Consideration as set forth as well in the present Memorial as in his two Memorials to Major General Hall, and that Your Lordship will grant him that relief which he has such good grounds to expect from the Justice & liberality of the British Government.
And Your Memorialist, as in duty bound, shall ever pray. &ca–
Port Louis, Mauritius
31st December 1818
Memorial A of William Marshall – 6 April 1818
Gage John Hall Esquire,
Acting Governor of the Island of
Mauritius and Dependencies and
Major General Commanding His
Majesty’s Forces in the said Island
The Memorial of William Marshall of Port Louis.
That the farm of the Batelage was, on the twenty sixth day of December last past, put up to Public Auction and adjudged to your Memorialist, for the two next ensuing years, for the Sum of Forty Six Thousand Dollars, being at the rate of Twenty three thousand Dollars per annum.
That from the conquest of this Colony by His Majesty’s Forces, to the period of the abovementioned Sale, the said farm of the Batelage was never sold for more than Eleven thousand two hundred and Twenty five Dollars per annum.
That on the above occasion, although the bids of your Memorialist exceeded those of every other person there present, still they were advanced upon by the Auctioneer to Government until they amounted to the Sum for which the said farm was knocked down to your Memorialist.
That your Memorialist was induced to offer so large a Sum for the said farm under the impression that the Port of this Island would be continued open until the 5th of July 1820, by a farther order in Council, pursuant to an act of Parliament posted in February 1817 authorizing His Majesty to this Effect. That this impression was the more founded, as your Memorialist’s bids were advanced upon by an auctioneer of the British Government, which has laid down as an Established principle, that no Person with whom it contracts shall be a loser by such contract, but on the contrary, shall have the means of making a fair and reasonable profit.
That the disappointment of your Memorialist commenced a few days after he obtained the said farm; that Several vessels lying in the harbour of Port Louis were seized for having brought certain prohibited Goods to this Island, the landing of which under certain restrictions had heretofore been permitted; that in consequence of such Seizures, Several vessels lately arrived in this harbour, and which had not yet broken bulk, sailed for another Port, whereby great loss arose to your Memorialist.
That your Memorialist was soon painfully undeceived with respect to the motive which had led him to follow up the bids of the Government Auctioneer, by the Port of this Island being shut at the expiration of time limited by the order in Council of the 1st March 1817, since the foreign vessels which traded to this Colony by virtue of the said order in Council, were the only services whence sufficient profit could arise for your Memorialist to enable him to pay the heavy sum which the Government Auctioneer had, as it were, enticed him to bid.
That to complete the distress of your Memorialist, the late hurricane hath destroyed a great number of your Memorialist’s boats, his shed and implements; and that your Memorialist hath, in consequence, been obliged to make a considerable advance for the purchase & hires of other boats to enable him to execute the conditions upon which he holds the said farm; so that your Memorialist, independently of his first disbursements for the boats, men and buildings stipulated in his Contract, which with other incidental expenses would amount for the first year to more than Twenty Eight Thousand Dollars over and above the Twenty three Thousand Dollars the purchase of the Contract for the said year, hath been obliged to make further disbursements and that at a moment when ruin stares him in the face.
That it cannot be your intention that your Memorialist should be a loser by his Contact; your memorialist is persuaded, on the contrary, that it is your desire to give every encouragement to the honest industry of the Community under your Government.
That in the case of your Memorialist, an effective check is given to his industry since the sources from which his profits were to flow, are dried up, and has the disheartening knowledge that the more he exerts himself to fulfil the conditions of his Contract, the more he involves himself.
That from the circumstances above stated, your Memorialist hath no hope of being able to fulfil the conditions of his Contract without inevitable ruin to himself.
Your Memorialist therefore humbly submits to your consideration the circumstances of his very hard case, as set forth in the foregoing Memorial, and prays for such relief as shall appear just and Equitable.
And your Memorialist as in Duty bound, shall ever pray &ca
Port Louis 6th April 1818
Memorial B of William Marshall – 6 April 1818
Gage John Hall Esquire,
Acting Governor of the Island
of Mauritius and Dependencies,
and Major General Commanding
His Majesty’s Forces in the
The Memorial of William Marshall of Port Louis.
That the farm of the Batelage was, on the Twenty Sixth day of December last past, put up to Public Auction & adjudged to Your Memorialist, for the two next ensuing years, for the Sum of Forty Six Thousand Dollars, being at the rate of Twenty three thousand Dollars per annum. –
That from the Conquest of this Colony by His Majesty’s Forces, to the period of the abovementioned sale, the said farm of the Batelage was never sold for more than Eleven Thousand Two Hundred and twenty five Dollars per annum.
That the late hurricane hath destroyed a great number of your Memorialist’s Boats, his Shed and Implements; and that Your Memorialist hath, in consequence been obliged to make a considerable advance for the purchase and hire of other boats to enable him to execute the conditions upon which he holds the said farm; so that, Your memorialist, independently of his first disbursements for the boats, men and buildings stipulated in his Contract, which with other incidental Expenses would amount for the first year to more than Twenty eight Thousand Dollars over and above the Twenty Three Thousand Dollars the purchase of the contract for the said year, hath been obliged to make farther disbursements the amount of which he hath had great difficulty in raising.
That from the effects of the abovementioned hurricane, Your Memorialist, on a moderate computation will during the course of the first year sustain a dead loss on his Contract of Ten Thousand Dollars at least unless he obtain some relief from Government.
That it cannot be your intention that Your Memorialist should be a loser by his Contract; Your Memorialist is persuaded, on the contrary, that it is your desire to give every encouragement to the honest industry of the Community under your Command.
That in the case of your Memorialist an effectual check is given to his industry from the dreadful and unforseen [sic] visitation of Providence, which has so completely crushed his hopes, and he has the disheartening knowledge that the more he exerts himself to fulfill [sic] the conditions of his contract the more he involves himself.
That from the circumstances above stated, Your memorialist hath no hope of being able to fulfil the conditions of his Contract without inevitable ruin to himself.
Your Memorialist therefore humbly submits to your consideration the circumstances of his very hard case as set forth in the foregoing Memorial, and prays for such relief as shall appear to you to be just and Equitable.
And Your Memorialist as in Duty bound Shall ever pray &cr
Port Louis 6th April 1818
(Signed) Wm Marshall
Report Colonel E. A. Draper – 12 March 1819
G.A. Barry Esqre
Champ de Mars
Port Louis March 12th
I have the honor to acknowledge your Letter of the 11th instant, enclosing a Memorial from Mr Marshall, the holder of the Batelage Contract, to Earl Bathurst, under date the 31st Decr. 1818, and desiring my Report on the Statement of the Memorialist as to the actual competition at the Sale of the Boat privilege, and the advances made by Mr. Mongoust, the Auction Clerk acting under my orders.
In reply I beg to state, for Major General Darling’s information, that I have every reason to believe that no competitor appeared beyond the Sum of 17,500 Drs per annum, except Bidders employed by Government to run up the sale, if possible, to the amount of 24,000 Drs the price fixed by Major General Hall, it being the intention of Government to take the entire management of the concern if that sum could not be obtained.
For the Major General’s further information, I enclose a copy of Major General Hall’s Orders to me on the subject, together with a copy of the Government Advertisement.
Mr. Marshall’s Memorial is herewith returned.
I have the honor to be
Your very obedt Servant
Signed E. A. Draper
Acting Vendue Master
Major General Hall to Colonel Draper – 22 December 1817
To Colonel Draper
December 22nd 1817
I regret to hear of the bad Success which attended our Measure last Saturday, as it appears that notwithstanding the very full attendance, no Bidder offered for the Batelage Contract which commences on the 1st of January –
It is possible that the short Notice which was given, together with some circumstances I have learned may have caused such disappointment, and I therefore suggest that the propriety, and expediency of its being again put up to Auction on Friday next, and that unless Twenty four Thousand Piastres are bid it shall be bought in for Government, and beg that not a moment may be lost in circulating the Notices.
With a reference to the enormous profit of last year, I should not feel myself justified towards the Government, if I permitted it to be disposed of on lower terms, for alltho’ it possibly may so happen that the profits of the future year, may not equal the present, (which is quite a speculative question) yet I cannot foresee such a disproportionate return as is represented –
We can have no difficulty in finding active, faithful, and respectable Englishmen to take charge of so important, and lucrative an Establishment, so that I feel quite independant [sic] on this occasion. –
Signed G. J. Hall
A True copy
Signed E. A. Draper
Actg Collr of Customs
Notice 17 December 1817
Notice is hereby given that this day at 12 o’clock, will be sold by Auction by the Vendue Master for Government, at the Custom House, the Batelage Contract.
The terms and conditions of the Contract may be known by application to the Government Vendue Master.
Port Louis 17th December 1817
Signed G. A. Barry
Chief Secy to Govt.
A True copy
Signed EA Draper