First Colonial Treasurer of NSW – William Balcombe

William Balcombe was appointed as the first Colonial Treasurer of the Colony of New South Wales. He was a man with an air of mystery surrounding him – he was a rumoured son of the Prince Regent, a protected friend of Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt, MP, a former Royal Navy and Honourable East India Company officer. He hosted the exiled Napoleon Bonaparte on the remote South Atlantic Island of St Helena and stood alongside Governor Beatson when facing an armed mutiny of soldiers. He returned to England where he was out of favour with the Establishment but he was subsequently  appointed to the post of the first Colonial Treasurer of the Colony of NSW. He arrived per Hibernia in 1824 with his wife Jane, daughter ‘Betsy’ Abell , grand-daughter ‘Bessie’ Abell, and sons William, Thomas Tyrwhitt and Alexander Beatson. He died in 1828 leaving his family in dire financial straits. However survive and prosper they did and these papers include their story.

Over 40 years of research and writing has gone into these papers about William Balcombe and his family. He is the great, great, great grandfather of my husband Bob, so a direct ancestor of him and our sons and our grandchildren and therefore a fascinating character for an enthusiastic family historian….and a great excuse for a trip on RMS St Helena to that delightful isolated South Atlantic Island in 2010.

These papers can be read in sequence but some information has been repeated to also allow them to ‘stand-alone’. Each has extensive end-notes to indicate the source of my information and, being a scientist by training, I have tried to make sure all my work can be verified and if the comment is a ‘rumour’ that is clearly stated.

This is a work in progress and ‘missing’ papers are in the process of editing and will be online very soon.

I have made extensive use of the National Library of Australia’s brilliant Trove web site (https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper) but have just given the newspaper name and date within the references themselves rather than the full web address i.e. sufficient for you to check the article yourself. I have tended to include the full transcript rather than give a summary as I feel it better conveys the sentiments expressed and anyway I love that old style of wordsmith!

Images of Thomas Tyrwhitt Balcombe’s paintings were resourced from the collections of  State Libraries, the National Library and the University of Queensland Art Museum.

Most of the photographs were taken by Bob or myself.

Please make any comments or suggestions via this web site.

Enough of the formalities  —–

Who was the enigmatic William Balcombe and what happened to him and his family over the one hundred and fifty years or so years from his birth? These papers attempt to answer those questions.

© Caroline Gaden