Saturday, 26 October 2013

Sunday, 5th March, 1837

I have received worrying news this past week from Sir Richard Bourke, my fellow Governor in New South Wales, that word has circulated throughout Sydney regarding our colony. As a result there are rumours of convicts planning to escape and make their way here.

This seems to me to be greatly disturbing. The notion that our little colony could be flooded with undesirable and unauthorised new comers is worrying in the extreme. Some, to be sure, might be attempting to escape and seek refuge from the iron fist of Sydney Anglicanism and the repressive military government of the Eastern colony. But I have no doubt that some will simply be coming to cause mischief and further their own beliefs and practices.

I have heard tell that there are cruelly heartless rapscallions in Sydney offering to sell to those people desperate to escape the hell hole that is New South Wales a pair of shoddy walking boots and a hand drawn map before sending them on their way with a guide prepared to smuggle people into our colony. They plan to destroy (or "Lose") any identity papers they might have with them the better to remain anonymous and untraceable here in the new colony.

Who knows then who might make their way here? Radical Unionists; Atheists; Free Thinkers; Benthamites; Frenchmen; Owenists: none of them the sort we want here in South Australia and all of them the sort that would not hesitate to undermine our way of life in order to pursue their own nefarious, liberal ends. It is only a few years since that unfortunate business at Tolpuddle and I am sure we do not need a repeat of that debacle. Nor does the thought of another Peterloo Massacre on the plains of Adelaide fill me with delight. (Though, to be honest, if the Marines charged a mob of radicals the greatest danger would be that the radicals might die laughing!)

So it is clear to me that we must act to protect our Colony from illegal newcomers arriving by walking overland from Sydney. Not merely to protect us from those who wish to overturn us, but also as a kindness to those desperate souls who embark on the dangerous, probably lethal, journey down the Murray to our township.

I have stated in Council that we must "stop the walkers" and I have instructed Stephenson to produce handbills that can be distributed about the colony to that effect.

I am telling the people: "Anyone who has not arrived on our shores by boat must be treated with suspicion."

Perhaps I can raise a force of patrolmen who would move about the plains near the foothills, intercepting and turning back illegal traffic. Perhaps we can make it known that any who arrive here illegally will not be allowed to live in the city, but will be taken and resettled in the less hospitable and accessible locales of Glenelg and the Port.

As a last resort I could instruct Widow Harvey to meet them as they arrive and offer them a hearty meal. I feel sure that one bite and they would turn tail and head back to where they came from.

I have instructed Brown, the Emigration Agent, to plan to build a processing camp outside of the city limits in Light's "Parklands" near the Western boundary of the planned city and here arrivals will be detained until such time as their identity and status is proven.

We must determine for ourselves who arrives on our Colony's Shores. Only "boat people" may be considered safe.

And on a different matter it was pointed out to me in Council this week, by, I believe, Gouger, that the Liquor Licencing Act we passed recently calls for a Licencing fee of  £50 which sum, for the average sort, is rather prohibitive.

To be completely honest I did not really read the thing all that closely before I signed it into law, but I seem to recall that we agreed to a figure of £5 for the Licencing fee.

Is it possible that the draft of the Act was changed without my realising it? Could someone have added a zero to the figure before it was sent off to the printer?

Well yes it damned well is possible and it has the paw marks of Mrs Hindmarsh and her temperance views all over it. She was adamant that the Colony should be untainted by the Demon Drink and I have no doubt that she saw this as a blow against drunkenness. As she sees it, if no-one can afford a licence there will be no licenced premises. And with no licensed premises we will all be drinking "the cup that cheers without inebriating".

Or there will be a legal challenge and Jeffcott will disallow the law, the which is far more likely.

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