Tuesday, 10 March 2015

A peek into colonial life in South Australia in the 1840's.

Photo: Colonial Adelaide in 1839, just three years after the colony was established.

This report was written by Lavington Glyde, a friend of George May Mashford. George was dead within three years of arriving in the colony and Glyde went on to become a notable politician and grazier in the South Australian colony.

Glyde differentiates between classes and it is very clear he was not a member of what he calls the working classes and that suggests, neither was George May Mashford and if he was not, then it was unlikely his family in general belonged to that class.

Glyde has written this at the end of 1847 and is said to have moved to the colony in 1850, so this may well have been a visit. In March of the same year, 1847,  the Mashfords had arrived on the Princess Royal and just three years later George would be dead and Lavington Glyde would be mentioned as living in the house George left in his will to his family.

NB: Some biographies have Glyde arriving in 1847 and some in 1850.

Three years is not long to make the sort of money required to leave a substantial estate and this begs the question of whether the Mashfords in general and George in particular, came with more money than first thought.

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ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA. To the Editor of the Bradford Observer. Sir, — I have left many friends and acquaintances behind me in Bradford, and it has occurred to me that it might interest and amuse them and your readers generally, if I were to send you some account of the condition and prospects of this colony.

I have now been here nearly five months, so that I have had time to look about me a little, and as I know that there exists in Bradford a desire for information with regard to the various fields for emigration, perhaps my " First Impressions of South Australia" may be of some value to intending emigrants, and of some interest to all.

First, then, a word or two about the voyage :— The fare in the cabin of a respectable merchant vessel is generally about seventy pounds, which includes fresh meat, bread and milk every day, and wine, spirits, and ale ad lib. In the " inter- mediate " the fare is from thirty pounds to forty pounds, including a bottle of wine weekly, and in the " steerage " the fare is 20/. Provisions, of course, are included in each of these, but from what I saw on my own passage out, I cannot recommend any one to come in the " intermediate."

The difference made between them and the steerage passengers was very slight, and certainly not worth £15 or £20. If a man cannot afford to come in the cabin, let him go in the steerage, and spend £5 in little comforts, such as preserved meats, &c. and at the end of the voyage he will be £10 in pocket, and not thought any the worse of for being economical. "To persons of good character among the working classes, the emigration commissioners in London are empowered to grant free passages, in the best ships they can procure, and to provide and put on boaard them abundant and excellent provision, with every necessary for the voyage, including medicines, and the personal superintendence of an experienced surgeon."

There is no washing allowed on board of any vessel, so that every one must bring a sufficient stock of linen to last through the voyage, which generally takes about 100 days from Gravesend to Adelaide. " South Australia is a British colony " (I quote from the South Australian Almanac) "situated on the southern coast of the continent of Australia, and contains about two hundred millions of acres.

It was established by Governor Hindmarsh, who landed and proclaimed it a British province in December, 1836. It has always been a free colony, and the Acts of Parliament by which it was constituted, have specially declared that no convicts shall ever be transported to it." About 400,000 acres have been purchased from the Crown, which are inhabited by a population of about 30,000 whites. It is estimated that there are at present in the colony about 1,000,000 sheep, 50,000 head of cattle, and 5,000 horses.

The running streams and springs are found to be much more numerous than the early settlers had any idea of. Nothing that can be called a drought has occurred during the existence of the colony, and there is said to be generally an increased degree of moisture, attributable in part to the clearing, breaking up, and tillage of the soil. The climate of the settled parts of the country is highly salubrious, and the air is generally light and clear.

The soil of the colony is fruitful beyond the most sanguine anticipations of its first settlers, and in a few years it will be one of the most prolific wine countries on the face of the globe." I have myself seen apples and pears, peaches and plums, and nearly all our English fruits growing side by side with oranges and lemons, pine-apples and pomegranates, loquats and melons, and other tropical fruits, and during the season all these are to be procured at a very cheap rate.

In fact, all eatables are cheap enough here. Good beef and mutton can be bought for 2d. per lb., and just at present for even less, and the 21b. loaf of the finest wheaten bread is never more than 3d. Good tea may be had at 18d. per lb., and brown sugar is worth about 3d. With such prices as these, you may imagine, sir, that every one has plenty to eat and drink, and hunger is unknown. I wish some thousands of the half-starved operatives in and around Bradford could be prevailed on to come out to this land of plenty.

There is abundance of room for us all, and they need not fear but they will obtain immediate employment at much better wages than they can ever earn by combing, &c. The city of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, stands about five miles from the sea, and seven miles from Port Adelaide, and is situated on the river Torrens, which divides North Adelaide from South Adelaide, which is the principal business part of the town. Its population is nearly 10,000, and a wonderful place it really is, considering that it is not yet eleven years old.

It has a government house and offices, a council chamber, a handsome and bustling exchange, a hospital, a post- office, a court-house, a theatre, a fine large gaol, (though happily very little used,) two- banks, half a dozen churches and chapels, and plenty of shops as good as any in Bradford. We have a Bible society, a mechanics' institute, a savings bank, fire and life insurance offices, and one or two temperance societies, not to mention the Oddfellows and Freemasons, both of which are in a flourishing condition.

We have two weekly newspapers, and two which appear twice a-week, and all of these are well supported, and are conducted in a very respect- able manner. The plan is laid down for the town to cover a square mile, and government has reserved some thousands of acres round the town, to form a park for the free use of the inhabitants. The streets and roads throughout the whole colony are 22 yards wide, and in a few years Adelaide will be really a hand- some town.

It is strange to a new comer to see the natives lounging about with very scanty drapery, and expressing in many uncouth ways their approbation of the fine things they see displayed in the shop windows. There are a good many of them about Adelaide, but they are perfectly harmless, and are frequently employed as " hewers of wood and drawers of water."

I find I am spinning out this rambling letter to a much greater length than 1 had intended, but I hope you will not grudge me half a column in which to try and point out the advantages of emigration to some of the good folks at home.

First, then, a word or two to the middle-aged gentleman, with five or six thousand pounds, but who is blessed with a " very fruitful vine, and plenty of little olive branches." You are working hard in your business, but cannot make it yield more than 10 or 12 per cent., and this is all swallowed up by sundry little bills, such as, "

To half year's board and education for Miss Jemima ;" or, "To one Tunic suit, complete, for Master George," and so on, not to mention the odious income tax, and other little annoyances of the same nature. Now if you will come out to South Australia, you can put out your money at interest, on first-rate mortgage securities at 15 or 20 per cent, per annum, and live an easy and independent life in the finest climate in the world, all but tax-free.

Or, if you choose to be a " lord of the soil," £5000 judiciously in- vested in houses and lands, will certainly yield you a thousand a year at present, with every probability of your property being worth two or three times as much in the course of a few years.

The society here is good, and untainted by the penal system, and there is no lack of good schools for the education of your children. As they grow up, if yon can give your sons a hundred pounds each, and a hundred acres to work upon, they are well provided for, and with common industry must get on, while your daughters are sure to get off, for the matrimonial market is not yet overstocked in South Australia. 2. To the young man, just beginning the world with a few hundreds. I will give you a few facts and figures, and you may judge for yourself. If you come out here, and choose to begin sheep-farming, which here requires no previous experience, you can now purchase good healthy ewes at ss. each. These ewes will give you at the end of the year nearly three pounds of wool each, at say a shilling a pound, and will very nearly double themselves every year. If you turn your attention to agriculture,—for £160 you can purchase 160 acres, which will yield you at least 3600 bushels of wheat at 4s. 6d. per bushel.

Or, if you prefer remaining in (he town, there are many ways of turning your time and capital to much greater advantage here than you are likely to meet with in England. Now, just compare this with the toil and anxiety of pushing your way in England, where every trade and profession is overstocked ; but if you do decide on coming out, as I suppose you will, I should recommend you to ponder well the last clause of the preceding paragraph, and act accordingly. Verbum sat. And now to the working classes, I can still more strongly recommend immediate emigration to South Australia. I know that hundreds of you in Bradford are obliged to stick to your combs twelve hours a day to make 12s. a week, and with no brighter prospect on this side the grave.

I know that provisions are so dear, that many of you can only taste meat once a week, and that you are compelled to send your children at a very early age to the mills, that they may make some little addition to your little incomes. In short, in Bradford labour is plentiful, and consequently cheap. In South Australia, on the contrary, labour is very scarce indeed, and consequently commands a good price But as my single testimony would perhaps not have much weight with you, I will make two or three extracts from "A Voice from South Australia," being an address to the starving or suffering millions of Great Britain and Ireland," issued in July last and signed by nearly two hundred of our most respectable colonists [As the greater part of this address appeared in our paper a few weeks ago, we need not now repeat it.]

Our correspondent concludes as follows. I have neither time nor space to add anything to this eloquent appeal  - eloquent because I am sure it must come home to the hearts and pockets of many of you. But perhaps in a few weeks I may find an opportunity of scribbling a little more about South Australia. I am, sir, yours respectfully, _ . LAVINGTON GLYDE. December 15th, 1847,




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