When Lord Sydney wrote “Heads of a Plan” in August 1786, he was looking for a solution to a growing problem in England – what to do with an increasing number of English prisoners languishing in prison hulks and gaols. Transportation was not a new idea, convicts had previously been sent to America, but America had won the war of independence in 1783. [1] Where else could the convicted felons now be sent?

James Cook had claimed possession of this immense southern land he called New South Wales in 1770 and he thought it was a land of vast abundance. His botanist, Joseph Banks suggested Botany Bay would be suitable for a settlement. Perhaps Lord Sydney realised he could solve a couple of looming problems with one solution, the claiming and settlement of NSW with convicts. However transporting convicts to NSW introduced some difficulties as the Colony was a long way to travel so ships of war were needed as escorts, and marines needed for safety and good order. On the other hand it had a good climate. If the Colony was to become self sufficient it would need utensils and farm implements as well as specialised labour like carpenters, smiths, potters, sawyers. Livestock could be purchased at the Cape of Good Hope on the way.

On 15 September 1786 Sydney wrote to Honourable East India Company (HEIC) about trade in region. The Company had been given a legal monopoly of all British trade between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn,[2] and the Government actually needed the Company’s permission for convicts to be sent. If the HEIC was in charge of trade at this time, why didn’t the British Government organise for them to deliver prisoners and supplies to the penal colony in NSW via their ships trading with India or China?

Trade possibilities were many and varied. The four main sources of trading wealth were tea from China, furs from North West America, the interception of Spanish ships in south American waters to plunder their goods, and whaling and sealing which was done in Southern waters. Whale oil was the petroleum of the day and used for lighting and it was an essential lubricant for the spinning machines in the factories of northern England. Port Jackson could be a very useful war time port, self sufficient in food and naval stores.

At the time British merchants were facing stiff competition from the French, Dutch, American and Spanish in the Pacific. Competition for trade depended on naval strength. The Dutch had a base at the Cape of Good Hope; the French had Mauritius; both were on sea routes used by British merchant vessels. British trade with China was booming, but the trade routes were increasingly hazardous, so there was a need to increase sea power in Indian and Pacific oceans. Ships were very vulnerable even when berthed at St Helena; it was a tiny island with questionable safe anchorage, but was the only friendly port for Indian trade, a trip of over 9000 miles. [3]

It was suggested that Britain should settle Australia for commercial reasons, especially after the loss of America and the economic downturn as a result of wars with France who also had their eye on the riches of India. It would be a useful base should war break out with Dutch. The convicts would work as cheap labour and transporting them also helped solve two problems in one initiative.

The First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay on 26 January 1788. So was this first fleet in reality a well planned naval expedition sent to seize and fortify a potential naval base and set up the colony as a trading base using cheap convict labour? [4]

The basis of a permanent economy in NSW served the interests of Britain as there were plenty of items to trade. Flax and timber, so important to the shipping industry, salt, ship’s candles, wheat, cheese, wool, leather goods, tobacco, cheese cloth, blankets, flour to the Cape, Horses to Batavia and India, spices, tobacco, indigo, silks and wines…. all were part of the initial goods of trade but gradually wool increased in importance in the Colony’s economy. [5]

Despite Governor Phillips’ instructions that the new colony should not trade with other nations few people took it seriously and trade was very welcome. Ships returning to England from NSW had to obtain permission from the HEIC (who had sole rights to sail to China and India) for a ‘return cargo’ of spices and tea. In 1800 the records show just 20 vessels (of all sizes, average 270 tons) entered Port Phillip (Sydney) and 23 left. What a huge difference from the 1000 per year berthing in The Roads at Jamestown, St Helena. [6]

The Home Government did not expect a penal colony to need currency, so none was provided. Most trading had to be done with barter and settlers traded among themselves, trading labour for wheat, vegetables or meat.[7] It was only military officers who, through their pay, had access to sterling for foreign exchange and they seized the opportunity to buy cargoes of imported goods. [8] It was the first Governor, Arthur Phillip who brought in coins; they were Spanish Dollars which he declared to be worth 5 shillings. It was Governor Lachlan Macquarie (in charge from 1810-1821) [9] who proclaimed sterling to be the official standard in 1816 and he saw the establishment of the first bank, the Bank of New South Wales. However currency remained chaotic with many different coins in circulation and barter remaining common.[10]

There must have been some sort of official [or unofficial] exchange method for currency conversion, if only for the fact that a small profit could be made, a bit like the currency exchanges we see today at our airports.  But whatever the case the English gold twenty shilling ‘sovereign’ would have been the high value currency for the larger transactions as the East India Company only issued lower value silver and copper coinage [very large cargo transactions would have been Bills of credit].  The first sovereigns were issued in 1817, prior to that it was the guinea, this being twenty-one shillings.[11] In November 1800 the Colony of New South Wales had the problem of anything goes and their list of equivalent sterling values at that time was

1 Guinea = £1-2-0
1 Johanna (Portuguese) = £4-0-0
½ Johanna = £2-0-0
Gold Mohur (Bombay or Bengal) = £1-17-6
Spanish $ = 5/-
Ducat = 9/6
Pagoda (S. India) = 8/-
Rupee (Bengal) = 2/6
Dutch guilder = 2/-
English shilling = 1/8
1oz Copper coin = 2d
½oz Copper coin = 1d
¼ oz Copper coin = ½d
The copper coins had twice the value they did in England at this time, with £1200 in face value arriving in the colony. In an attempt to stop hoarding the largest amount permitted for legal tender was set at £5.[12]
As the colony developed and money was generated a more organised Civil Service was able to develop. However a problem for Governor Brisbane was that he had no say in the appointments of the men who were chosen in England to serve in NSW and he inherited some from his predecessor Governor Macquarie. He had major disagreements with Colonial Secretary Frederick Goulburn who arrived in 1821, as did Mr Justice Wylde who refused to hand over the criminal records. Yorkshire born John Oxley was appointed the surveyor general,[13] Francis Rossi became Chief of Police[14] and was paid £600 a year, James Bowman the Principal surgeon was on £410 per year and Lithgow was made Auditor. To further formalise the development of trade in this far-flung Colony, the Colonial Secretary announced the foundation of the NSW Treasury and the appointment of William Balcombe as the first Colonial Treasurer on 28 April 1824.[15]

who-balcombe-briarsBecause of Balcombe’s friendship with Napoleon he had been treated with suspicion by many in England, he was considered an embarrassment to the Government. But when he backed Hudson Lowe and reportedly due to the influence of his wife’­s powerful friends in Parliament, pressure was applied that Balcombe was to be given some government office or another.

These ‘powerful friends’ of Jane Balcombe are un-named. Was the person a ‘Member of the House of Commons and Balcombe family member’ [16] or was he a cousin of Balcombe ‘who was a member of the House of Commons’. [17] Did the Parliamentarian, a Government ally, make the request which was granted to keep him onside for important votes?[18] Or was the appointment in settlement of a ‘potential claim against the East India Company for loss of earnings and unjust termination in 1818′. [19]

It has even been suggested that William had a brother Robert who was an emissary to the Prince Regent who convinced Sir Hudson Lowe to withdraw his allegation of misconduct against Balcombe [20] thus freeing the way for an official posting. Most likely it was under the influence or suggestion of Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt the Member of Parliament and Parliamentary ‘Black Rod’, who had remained a friend of the family for many years.

Whatever the reason, which no doubt was political, William Balcombe was appointed as Colonial Treasurer of New South Wales in October 1823.[21]

The ‘Oriental Herald’ was most scathing of the appointment and included a comment from the ‘Morning Chronicle’ of 19th, writing

The former colonial treasurer then denominated Treasurer of the Police fund whose integrity in that office was unimpeached and unimpeachable and who has received for the performance of his duties the sum of £100 sterling per annum has been displaced to make way for a Mr Balcombe, of St Helena notoriety, with a salary of £1200 per annum, an allowance of £150 for a clerk and £150 for a house! Illustrious specimen of financial economy.[22]

Balcombe’s appointment was also not widely welcomed in NSW, in part because he was initially to receive that high salary of £1200 plus a free house but this amount was soon reduced when it came to the attention of the other departmental heads and jealousy took over. [23] Salaries appear to have had great variation in value – John Piper, the Naval Officer, received a salary twice that of the Governor. [24]

The people of Sydney only learned that a Colonial Treasurer had been appointed when the local newspapers reported the decision in April 1824, just before his arrival in the Colony. It was announced ‘from the Colonial Secretary’s Office, April 28, 1824, His Majesty has been graciously pleased to appoint William Balcombe Esq. to be Colonial Treasurer of Revenue of New South Wales by His Excellency’s Command F. Goulburn, Colonial Secretary.’ [25]

The Asiatic Journal reported the appointment advising that ‘Mr. Balcombe so frequently mentioned in Mr. O’Meara’s ‘Voice from St Helena’ has been appointed Treasurer of NSW.[26]

William Balcombe and his family ‘came free’ per Hibernia 1824, under Captain Robert Gillies. They left Plymouth on 8 November 1823, sailed via Brazil, not St Helena, and then left the Cape of Good Hope on 1 February 1824. [27]

It was always thought that the trip to NSW was not a happy one because William and Jane lost their eldest daughter on the voyage, possibly from tuberculosis.[28] The various volumes of the ‘Oriental Herald and Colonial Review’ (1823-29) and its preceding volume of the ‘Oriental Magazine and Calcutta Review‘(July – December 1823) have been perused…. they list all the births, marriages and deaths on board ships including the ‘Hibernia’.[29] Two births were recorded on board in late 1824 but no death of Miss Balcombe, so were the logs lost, did the Review not print it in the change from one title the other? Or did Jane die before they even left England?

If she had died en route and been buried at sea she would at least have been accorded a proper ceremonious burial, prayers would have been said, a cannon fired and the body solemnly lowered into the water, with two cannon balls attached to her feet to ensure rapid sinking.[30] The loss of Jane would have been absolutely devastating for both Betsy and her mother. They had lost a sister and daughter as well as a friend and confidante who shared their triumphs, their sorrows and their secrets.

‘Hibernia’ sailed via Hobart where several dignitaries were to disembark there.

Ship News. – On Monday arrived the Hibernia transport, Captain Gillies, from England, with stores. – Passengers (for Van Diemen’s Land), J. L. Pedder, Esq., Chief Justice, and Mrs. Pedder; J. T.   Gillibrand, Esq. Attorney General, Mrs. Gellibrand and family; Mr. Gellibrand, sen.; Mr. Johnstone, and Miss Watkins; (for New South Wales) Sax Bannister, Esq. Attorney General of New South Wales, two Misses Bannister; William Balcombe, Esq. Colonial Treasurer of New South Wales, and his family; Captain Foley, 3d Regiment, Captain McArthur, 19th Regiment, Deputy Assistant Commissary General Radford, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Wood, and Mrs. Abel. The Hibernia left Plymouth on the 9th of November, and touched at the Cape of Good Hope on her passage.[31]

‘The Honourable Chief Justice PEDDER, Judge of the Supreme Court of Van Diemen’s Land, disembarked on the Tuesday morning, with a Salute of 13 guns from Mulgrave Battery, and a Salute from the ship Hibernia, was also fired on the occasion. The new Chief Justice was received at Government House by the Lieutenant Governor, and the assembled Officers, Civil and Military, and Magistrates of the Settlement. Joseph Tice Gillibrand, Esq. Attorney General of Van Diemen’s Land, landed with the Hon. Chief Justice Pedder.’ [32]

The passengers who hoped for a few nights ashore would have been disappointed as they would find there was no lodging to be had in Hobart and prices for food items were enormous, butter was 4/- to 7/- per pound as was fish and eggs 3/- per dozen, fruit was very expensive and of poor quality, so relief from the seagoing menu would not easily available.[33]

The ship then sailed on the final leg of the journey up the eastern coast of NSW To Sydney.

‘The Passengers that have arrived at Headquarters, per the Hibernia, are as follow: Saxe Bannister, Esq. Attorney General, two Misses Bannister, with three domestics; William Balcombe, Esq. Colonial Treasurer, Mrs. Balcombe, and family, with two domestics ; Deputy Assistant Commissary General Radford; Captain Foley, of the 3d Regt. (Buffs); James Harrison, Esq; Mrs. Abel, and child ; and Mr. Wood, Clerk to the Attorney General.-From Hobart Town, Mr. Adam Maitland, and Mr. T. Burnett.[34]

It would have been important for the family to arrange for someone to act as tutor for the boys on this long voyage. In later years they arranged for a tutor for the young Bessie Abell so it would have been considered most important that Thomas and Alexander in particular continue with their lessons on this trip. The tutor would need to be an acceptable young man. One from the passenger list already known to the Balcombes and who would fit the bill was 22 year old James S Harrison Esq who was noted as being on the ship in the Hobart Town Gazette of 1824.[35] He was subsequently appointed to the position of Principal Clerk to the Treasury.[36] (Sadly he was to die in the Colony in 1830 aged just 28 years old. One night a short time before his death, his Pitt Street home was burgled by William Chaffey but James was in bed and ‘wholly unconscious to what was taking place.’ [37])

Did William Balcombe ever meet Thomas Warne whilst onboard the Hibernia to NSW? Both men arrived in the colony around the same time but we are unsure of Warne’s vessel. Warne was a native of Devonport, in England, and had been a domestic servant in the establishment of Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt, who gave him letters of introduction to William Balcombe. It is understood that Warne had two or three brothers in Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt’s service at the time of his departure to NSW. (Warne was to be brutally murdered in November 1844, long after William’s own demise.) [38]


It is claimed that William Balcombe was responsible for introducing two plants to Australia, the Sweet Briar and the Weeping Willow. The willow (Salix babylonica) grew nearby Napoleon’s grave on St Helena and Balcombe is reported to have taken cuttings from these trees [39] and establishing the plants in NSW, ‘gracing the grounds of places such as the hospital at Kenmore near Goulburn [40] the original tree flourishing until the beginning of the 1900s.’ [41]

However there appear to be a couple of problems with this story.

When Balcombe left St Helena in 1818, Napoleon was still alive if not well! He lived for a few more years after Balcombe’s departure. The place where Napoleon was buried was a place of his choosing ‘by the side of a spring near Torbett’s country house, below Mr Ibbetson’s at Hutt’s Gate ….under the shade of a cluster of weeping willows.’ [42]

It is not likely that cuttings were taken when the Balcombe family left the island in 1818 as their future significance would not have been known and they left in somewhat of a rush. It would only be possible for the Balcombes to have taken cuttings from those trees when they moved to NSW if the ship ‘Hibernia’ called into St Helena on her trip to Australia. This was unlikely as, whilst Jamestown was on the route for the Indiamen going to India and China, it was off the route for shipping to Van Diemen’s Land, Port Phillip and Port Jackson. The Jamestown Archivist advises that Hibernia did not call into St Helena in the appropriate time frame for the Balcombe’s voyage. [43] If the ship had done, no doubt the Balcombe family would have visited the grave of their former friend and such an emotional visit would surely have been recorded.

By 1830, only a few years after the death of the former Emperor, Captain Mundy wrote that the willows were decaying on Napoleon’s grave. One of them ‘rests upon the sharp spears of the railing which are buried in its trunk – as though it were committing suicide for very grief ….the foliage of the rest was thinned and disfigured by the frequent depredations of visitors.’ [44]

So it is very likely that other sailors returned to England with cuttings from Sane Valley, also called Geranium Valley on St Helena. It could be that the Balcombe’s brought cuttings taken from cuttings given to them in England. (When we visited Napoleon’s grave site in 2010 there was not a willow tree to be seen.)

In reality any passenger on a ship with a stop-over at St Helena could have been responsible for bringing the tree to NSW and Victoria. The Pleasant Creek News remarked:

There is a singular little history connected with the Station called Longwood, on the North-Eastern line of railway. It seems that one of the earliest settlers there was a passenger by a ship that put in at St Helena for supplies. Naturally, the tomb of Napoleon the Great was visited, and the weeping willow trees bending over it were noticed and admired. The gentleman referred to cut off a few sprigs, and at considerable trouble conveyed them safely to Victoria. They were planted on some ground not far from the Longwood Station, which, as well as the settlement around, owes its name to Napoleon’s burial place in his island prison at St Helena.’ [45]

The Balcombe family was recorded as having brought other cuttings to the colony of NSW. Edward DS Ogilvie of ‘Yugilbar‘ and his family stayed with them at the Treasury House in Sydney. He recounted that the Colonial Treasurer was a friend from his naval service years and remarked that the ‘Orange tree cutting growing in the centre of the garden came from Napoleon’s grave on St Helena … Several vine cuttings in the second vineyard came from this grave too.’ [46]



The Colonial Treasury Department was established on the 28 April 1824 and was located at the official residence of the first Colonial Treasurer. Balcombe’s private quarters for his family was upstairs, and the government transactions attended to below. [47]

The house had been recently built for the Paymaster of the 102nd regiment William Cox, known for constructing the road over the Blue Mountains in 1814-15. The stone house had been built by convict labour. It had walls thick enough for a fortress, barred windows and three cells in the basement, making it eminently suitable for a Treasury. Located at the western corner of Bent and O’Connell Streets, it had a picturesque wall on its northern end and in later years a great oak thrust its boughs well over the sidewalk and a Norfolk Island Pine towered high above the old building.[48] It was within view of the Bent Street fountain in later years and was considered one of Sydney’s most dignified homes.

However the Deputy Assistant Commissary-General, George Thomas William Boyes, who had no family with him, was most put out by the arrangement…. he had expected to share the house with William Lithgow, but Governor Brisbane assigned it to Balcombe who had his whole family with him. Balcombe had supposedly manipulated the Governor to obtain this comfortable home.[49]

Boyes wrote to his wife in England ‘Mr Balcombe, who was sent out as Colonial Treasurer has not been acting like an English gentleman. He has taken the only eligible house (corner of O’Connell and Bent Street) for an office over my head after I had come to regular terms with the proprietor, and what is more extraordinary, the Governor, who between ourselves is a great fool, has lent his name to the proceedings – it certainly was not an affair to take up as an individual, so I contented myself with telling the Colonial Secretary officially what I thought of the transaction.’ [50]

The Treasury remained on this site from 1824-1826 and William Balcombe’s rent to Mr. Cox was 300 Spanish Dollars for ‘the latter half of 1824‘: his salary was £1200..0..0 or Sp$6000 annually.[51]

Surprisingly in this convict colony, no Troopers were assigned on guard duty, so Balcombe guarded public money in his bedroom with a brass barreled blunderbuss and a case of horse pistols beside his bed!


On their arrival the Balcombe’s were assigned a former convict as their cook. Called William Williams, he was in fact a man with a scandalous past. Williams was born in Montgomeryshire, Wales a few years before the First fleet arrived in Botany Bay. On 8 February 1817, at the age of 41, he was tried and convicted at the Old Bailey on a charge of stealing furniture and furnishings worth £3/14/- from his employer. However in his defence Williams said only that his employer ‘Mr. Stewart gave me the things,’, and perhaps because he believed this, he had made no attempt to hide them or dispose of them. The theft had been discovered by Stewart’s wife and it is thought that in reality Williams was charged with the crime of stealing rather than exposing that he was having some kind of sexual relationship with his employer … if that had come to court both men would have been charged with capital offences. Williams was sentenced to 7 years transportation. After he had served 4 of his 7 years, Williams was granted a Ticket of Leave but this was revoked when, on 21 August 1821 he was convicted of ‘an unnatural offence‘ and sent to Newcastle where he served the remainder of his sentence. After he gained his Certificate of Freedom on 4 March 1824, Williams obtained a post as cook to the newly-arrived Colonial Treasurer, William Balcombe at his house in O’Connell Street.

Just a few months later, on 7 July 1824 Williams was convicted of stealing food from his employer and was sentenced to 9 months hard labour in the old Sydney Gaol. It is hard to understand this last crime: as the cook in an important house Williams would have been well fed and had no need to pilfer. It is tempting to speculate that he took the food to give to men that he fancied.

Some years later, on Williams’ last encounter with the law he was charged and convicted of sodomy. On 5 September 1842 a Sydney newspaper published a list of Police Business and included ‘John Solomon, an Indian and William Williams were committed to take their trials for an unnatural offence’. The death sentence was passed but commuted to transportation for life to the penal settlement on Van Diemen’s Land. [52]



William Balcombe established the first Colonial Treasury on 30 April 1824 on the corner of O’Connell and Bent Streets with a staff of three clerks. [53] His appointment coincided with the British Government’s decision that the Colony needed to become self-sufficient. They would now pay only for the transportation of the convicts, and their travelling food.[54]

Balcombe soon was organising his work with an advertisement in the Sydney Gazette of 20 May 1824 advising

Colonial Treasurer’s Office, O’Connel-street.   NOTICE is hereby given, that Payments will be made at this Office on Tuesdays and Thursdays only, between the Hours of 10 and 3. W. Balcombe, Colonial Treasurer.


It appears that neither Lord Bathurst (who made the appointment) nor the incumbent Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane was quite clear as to the scope of the new office of Colonial Treasurer. The British Treasury officials had their own idea of there being a clear separation between the role of Colonial Treasurer and Colonial Auditor.[55] However in reality there was a great deal of overlapping responsibilities if there was to be an audited set of accounts produced for the Colony. Balcombe had to work with Scotsman William Lithgow to that end. Initially they worked under Governor Brisbane, then under Governor Sir Ralph Darling who was in office from 1825 to 1831.[56] Lithgow went on to serve for 28 years under five different Governors, from 1824 to 1852.

The financial arrangements in New South Wales were somewhat diffuse before the appointment of a Treasurer.

The colony’s finances had been administered by the Commissary, the Treasurer of the Police Fund, the Naval Officer and the Treasurer of the Orphan Fund. Colonial revenue was raised by royalties on timber and coal, fees on shipping, import duties, wharf taxes, auction duties, market and fair dues, fees paid on cattle slaughtering and tolls on public bridges and roads. Monies from import duties, wharf taxes and duties on timber and coal were collected by the Naval Officer, the others by the Treasurer of the Police Fund. At the end of each quarter, seven-eighths of the revenue collected by the Naval Officer were paid to the Police Fund, and one-eighth to the Orphans Fund (which also financed the purchase of tools and implements used in public works).’ [57]

However the opportunity was everywhere for fraud and misappropriation. The Police fund was used as consolidated revenue for roads and bridges. The Agent-General for NSW back in London was stealing money from the British Treasury, money which was meant to come of NSW.[58]

There is no wonder that some financial order had become more important as the Colony grew but the Secretary of State had made it quite clear that control still lay in London with the specific instruction that no expenditure over £200 could be made without approval from the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury.

The task was huge. Balcombe had to set up collections for all internal revenue of the Public Offices including the Lands Department, Customs Department, Post Office, Chief Inspector of Distilleries and Harbour Master. These had to be paid on a specific day each week. The Treasurer was also responsible for collecting fees payable for many licences, such as Trade Licences, Publican’s Licences and Depasturing Licences. There was taxation (duties on gold, excise), land revenue (sales, leases), services rendered (pilotage, gold escorts) and things such as fines and interest earned.[59]

He had to send the Colonial Auditor monthly accounts of all money received by the Treasury, monthly statements of temporary deposits, abstracts of Bills of exchange, accounts of specie other than currency and at the end of the year compile a whole years’ receipts and disbursements. [60]

With a staff of just three, the new Treasurer had also been issued with specific instructions by the British Treasury. Careful double-entry bookkeeping procedures had to be adhered to with every voucher and receipt kept in duplicate. He had to render an account each quarter with full particulars of all public monies with the copies being sent to the Commissioner of Colonial Audit in England.[61]

One can only speculate if Balcombe had ever kept such detailed accounts of his own business dealings on St Helena and it eventually became obvious that he did not really live up to expectations in his role as Colonial Treasurer and we can only speculate how much of this was due to his developing serious health problems.[62]

The range of things emanating from his office can be gleaned from the newspaper advertisements, all of which had to be written and paid for. They included tolls, the hire of convict labour, salaries and court expenses.

COLONIAL TREASURER’S OFFICE, 14th Oct. 1824. THE TOLLS, to arise from HOWE’s BRIDGE on the South Creek, Hawkesbury, for the ensuing Year, commencing the 20th Instant, will be Put up for SALE by PUBLIC AUCTION in the Market-place, Sydney, on Monday the 18th instant; at 12 o’Clock.   WILLIAM BALCOMBE, Colonial Treasurer.[63]


‘COLONIAL TREASURER’S OFFICE 16th AUGUST, 1825….. PERSONS, indebted to Government for the HIRE of CONVICT MECHANICS, are hereby   required to cause Payment of the Arrears, due by them to the 30th June last, be made at this Office, on or before the 10th September next ensuing; in Default of which, the Bonds will be handed over to the Law Officer to enforce the same, and the Servants withdrawn forthwith. W. BALCOMBE, Colonial Treasurer.[64]


COLONIAL TREASURER’s OFFICE, SYDNEY, 10th JUNE, 1825. THE TOLLS, DUES, &c. arising- from the undermentioned Roads, &c. for One Year, commencing   1st July next ensuing, will be Sold by Public Auction, in the Market-place, Sydney, on Thursday the 23d Instant, at 12 o’Clock precisely; Tolls on the Road between Sydney and Parramatta; Tolls on the Road between Sydney and Liverpool; Tolls on the Road between Parramatta and Windsor; Tolls on the Great Western Road, between Parramatta and Emu Ford ; Dues of the Market-place, Sydney; The Government Ferry Boat at Emu Ford. W. BALCOMBE, Colonial Treasurer.[65]


COLONIAL TREASURER’s OFFICE, 15th JUNE, 1825. NOTICE.-Officers, on the Colonial Establishment, are requested to apply for their respective Salaries, for the Quarter ending the 30th June, before the 10th July ensuing. Those, which, are not called for before that Date, must unavoidably stand over until the next Quarter. W.BALCOMBE, COLONIAL TREASURER’S OFFICE, SYDNEY.[66]

There were also disgruntled locals to appease:

TO THE EDITOR OF THE SYDNEY GAZETTE…SIR  – I am a poor settler, I was subpoena’d, last week, to attend the Criminal Court as a witness. I was in the midst, of sowing my little stock of wheat. I was obliged to leave it at great inconvenience, and probable loss. I was one day in coming to town, one day detained in town, and, a third day, was necessary for my return. I received, for payment of all expenses, an order on the Colonial Treasurer, for £1 3s (one pound, three shillings). I presented it for payment but was informed the signature of a Gentleman, then absent from town, and whose return was not expected for several days, was, indispensable, before the order could be paid. I should, therefore, have been further detained in town all that time, at great expence, and greater loss, and injury in my agricultural concerns, had not a friend advanced me money to defray my expences, which the sum allowed by no means covers. I think Sir, this is a hardship, which requires redress from the proper quarter. In future, on any, similar occasion, I will not quit my home, and my concerns, on receipt of a subpoena, unless my expences are tendered with it. I am, Sir, yours obediently, &c. ARATOR. 6th June, 1825.[67]


When John F Uniacke died in 1825 [68] he did not leave a Will and he obviously owed money to his principal creditor William Balcombe. This notice appeared in the local newspaper … how many members of the population would be able to read and understand the legal language?

‘GEORGE the FOURTH, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith and so forth.  

To the next of Kin of John Fitzgerald Uniacke, late of Sydney, Esquire, deceased, and to all Christian People,  GREETING: You and each of you, are hereby cited and warned, that you be and appear in the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, on Wednesday, the Twenty third Day of February Instant, at the Office of the said Supreme Court, in Bent-street, Sydney, aforesaid, at Eleven o’Clock in the Forenoon, and that you, and each of you, then and there, take upon you, or one of you, or for ever renounce the Administration of the Goods, Chattles, Rights, Credits, and Effects of the said John Fitzgerald, Uniacke, deceased, intestate, as is represented to us.

Witness, the Honourable FRANCIS FORBES, Chief Justice, this Eighth Day of February, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand eight hundred and twenty-five, (signed) G. MILLS, (L. S.) JAMES NORTON, Proctor for WILLIAM BALCOMBE, a principal Creditor.[69]



In the same way as England had very distinct levels of social strata, so did NSW. At the elite level there were Government Officials, and senior Military Officers and, in time, some successful (wealthy) free settlers were allowed into the group. The middle level was occupied by the emancipists, ticket of leave men and immigrants. The convicts remained on the bottom of the heap. There was little intermingling and it was well nigh impossible to move up a level.[70]

So the ‘fashionable’ folk who lived in Sydney socialised within their own circle and would not have included convicts or former convicts on their social lists. There were dinners and card evenings and balls, with each hostess making sure she maintained a high standard. Officers from the Regiment and visiting Naval Officers would also have been invited. The Balcombes’ names would have been high on the guest lists for two reasons – William’s position in the Colony and his connection with Napoleon and St Helena. His daughter Betsy Balcombe, now Abell, was a guest of great beauty with enormous intrigue and fascination. These social events were reported in the local newspapers.

THE FASHIONABLE WORLD….The Ball and Supper, given by Sir JOHN JAMISON on the evening of Thursday last, was of the most fascinating and splendid description. The ball-room was fancifully fitted up for the   occasion. The Company flocked in from 8 to 9: the carriages were rolling rapidly down our streets between those hours. Captain PIPER, with his usual zeal in these cases, had his own Band in attendance upon the noble Host. Dancing, consisting of country dances, quadrilles, and Spanish waltzes, presently commenced, and was maintained with the utmost animation till midnight, when the Guests were ushered in to the supper-room, which was entitled to the palm for superior taste in the disposition of the various arrangements that were most happily executed. All the rare and choice delicacies that Australia possesses, whether natural or imported, decorated the festive board, which groaned beneath the weight of excessive luxuriance: upwards of 170 sat down to supper. The rooms were elegantly festooned, and exhibited one refulgent blaze. About one in the morning, the ball-room was re-invested by this concentration of beauty, rank, and fashion; from whence a final retreat did not take place till Sol began to eclipse the twinkling orbs of night, and thus remind the gallant remnant it was time to retire in quest of that transient repose which the imposing scene was calculated to obstruct. Among the personages present, were distinguished His HONOR the CHIEF JUSTICE, and LADY; Captain COE, HMS Tees, and LADY ; His Honor the late JUDGE ADVOCATE, LADY, and two Miss WYLDES ; the ATTORNEY GENERAL; the SURVEYOR GENERAL ; the COLONIAL TREASURER, and LADY, and the interesting Mrs. ABELL ; the NAVAL OFFICER, LADY, and Mr. PIPER, Jnr; A K. Mckenzie, Esq, LADY, and two Miss Mckenzie; the COMMISSIONER of REQUESTS, and FAMILY ; the   COMMISSARIAT OFFICERS and their LADIES ; JOHN BLAXLAND, Esq LADY, and FAMILY ; WILLIAM Cox. Esq. And LADY, of Clarendon; WILLIAM Cox. Jnr. Esq. And LADY, of Hornbill ; Capt. And Miss BRABYN; RICHARD BROOKS, Esq and the two Miss BROOKS, of Denham Court; A. BELL, Esq. LADY, and two Miss BELLS, of Richmond ; JAMES NORTON, Esq. And LADY ; &c. &c. &c The whole of the Officers of the three Regiments, now doing duty in Garrison ; Major BATES, Royal Artillery ; as well as the Officers of H. M. Ship Tees, were among the happy group of FASHIONABLES that were invited from all parts of the country to this elegant banquet.’ [71]

Captain Piper, the Naval Officer lived in a beautiful house just after entry into Port Jackson. According to Deputy Assistant Commissary-General Boyes he spent immense amount of money on it, made a road to it and had spared no expense, with 100 men employed. Piper’s remuneration was based on the collections he made of Customs and Excise and his income rose to over £4000.[72] This money he obviously spent as he entertained lavishly and was noted for sending carriages and four, and boats for those guests who like the water, and returned them home in the same manner. He had a band of music and they had quadrilles every evening under the spacious verandas. At the table there is a profusion of every luxury that four quarters of the globe can supply.’ [73]

There were also working dinners for the Colony’s officials

His Excellency Sir THOMAS BRISBANE visited the Capital, for the Despatch of Public Business, on the afternoon of Tuesday. The COLONIAL TREASURER entertained His EXCELLENCY to Dinner, on Tuesday, at his picturesque residence, in O’Connell-street. Yesterday afternoon His EXCELLENCY left Town for Parramatta.’ [74]


Around this time poor Betsy would have been distraught and horrified to read the newspaper Shipping News of 22 July 1824 …. her husband had arrived in the Colony as a paying passenger. To have spent so much money he must have had great expectations of extracting even more money or goods and chattles from her and her family.

‘SHIP NEWS-On Thursday last arrived from England, the ship Alfred, Captain Laughton, with an investment of sundries. She sailed from London the 19th of February; touched at Madeira, which she left the 2d of April; and called at Hobart Town, from whence she departed on the 9th instant. Some of the passengers, intended for Van Diemen’s Land, remained in that Colony; and the following have come to Head-quarters … E. Abell, Esq….’ [75]

No doubt Abell made contact with the family hoping for some financial gain and no doubt he received very short shrift from William Balcombe. Betsy would have been incredibly hurt that he refused to consider an annulment to their marriage or a private separation which would have given both the chance to remarry acceptably within Society. Abell must have been a very vindictive person to withhold this from Betsy, thus condemning her to the lonely life of a deserted wife. He disappeared from immediate view but actually stayed in NSW for two months.

No doubt thinking he had left the Colony, Betsy wrote an impassioned letter to Sir Henry Torrens on 10 August advising of Abell’s visit and his ‘confession of villanies’ and ‘the atrocities he has practised.’ She begged Torrens to ‘intercede for a Grant of Land for herself and daughter’, advising it would give Bessie ‘a certain independence for her when she comes of age’. In the letter she also advised her ‘father’s health was very precarious caused by the violent attacks he has of gout.’ [76] One can only assume that if such a land grant did occur Edward Abell could re-appear and claim it as his own unless it was in the name of trustees.

Betsy would have been delighted when the newspaper shipping passenger lists confirmed that her husband really had left Sydney…. one can only speculate as to what else he had been up to during these weeks.

The Hobart Newspapers reported that in September Edward Abell Esq finally left the Colony of NSW and set off for India on the ‘Prince Regent’, ‘Ship News. – Arrived on Monday morning last from Port Jackson, after a tedious passage of 18 days, the barque Prince Regent, of 540 tons, Captain Wales, having on board the following passengers, viz. Doctor T. B. Wilson, ….. E. Abel, Esq,(For India)…. The Prince Regent brought down also a Detachment of the 3rd Regiment (Buffs) with their wives and families ; likewise, several free women to join their husbands in this Colony, with three hundred chests of tea, a quantity of cedar, and 15 horses ‘for  Government.’ Subsequently the Hobart Town Gazette published a request by Edward Abell Esq who was leaving the Colony and he requested claims be presented[77]

Meanwhile the social whirl of Sydney continued unabated. It is apparent that the socialites wanted their exploits to be recorded in the local newspaper. This letter of complaint was not signed.

To the Editor of the Sydney Gazette….MR. EDITOR. The Ladies are very angry that you have not noticed the splendid entertainment at Ultimo-House, on the 1st ultimo; and by the Bachelors immediately after, at Mr. Lord’s to Captain and Mrs. COE, and the Officers of His Majesty’s ship Tees, on their quitting this station for India. That you should have omitted observing the honors done to the hardy Tars who guarded our coasts, is displeasing to the Currency Lads and Lassies, who were invited from all parts of the Colony to bid them farewell, and who so much enjoyed the attention shewn to bring them together, more particularly as among the visitants were observed the Ladies of rank and fashion in the Colony, with the exception of a few who were indisposed and unable to attend. And among the Gentlemen were remarked, the Chief Justice, Colonial Secretary, Sir John Jamison, the Attorney General, Colonial Treasurer, Surveyor General, Commissioner of the Court of Requests, and Naval Officer; many of the Magistrates; Colonel Balfour; the Officers of the Buffs, the 40th, and 48th Regiments; the Commissariat Officers; the Medical Gentlemen; Solicitors; Commanders of Vessels in Port, and Strangers lately arrived. The “merry dance” opened by Sir John Jamison and Mrs. Coe, and was kept up ’till morn, by the kind aid of Captain Piper’s band. At supper about 240 sat down to tables, at three several periods, covered with everything tempting the season afforded. The wines, liqueurs, &c. were excellent and abounded. The most loyal and appropriate toasts were drank with enthusiastic applause and cheers of “three times three.” And at the Bachelors’ Entertainment no less zeal was shewn to please. The supper was excellent, and the attention of the Gentlemen, who superintended the fete, unremitting. Such Parties will long be remembered in the Colony. Yours, &c. *******’ [78]

The Balcombe’s took their turn at contributing to the calendar and it appears from this account that the night in early 1825 was a resounding social success.

‘NEWS OF THE WEEK….On Monday evening-last a magnificent Ball and Supper were given by Mrs. BALCOMBE, at the residence of the Colonial Treasurer in O-Connel-street. Among the Personages present, were distinguishable the CHIEF JUSTICE and LADY; the SOLICITOR GENERAL, LADY, and FAMILY: Colonel BALFOUR, and LADY; the NAVAL OFFICER, and LADY; the COLONIAL SECRETARY ; the PRIVATE SECRETARY to the GOVERNOR in CHIEF; the SHERRIFF ; most of the OFFICERS in garrison ; independent of the majority of other FASHIONABLES of the Colony. It would be frivolous in us to attempt the description of an entertainment, of which we have only just obtained a hasty account ; but from what comes to our knowledge, it may safely be pronounced, that a most brilliant Assemblage has not been convened since the establishment of Australia, than that which graced Mrs. BALCOMBE’S ball room on Monday evening.’ [79]

And a week later the Governor dined with the Balcombes…His Excellency the Governor in Chief came to Town on Tuesday morning. A Council was convened in the forenoon. In the evening- His Excellency dined with the Colonial Treasurer, at his residence in O’Connell-street; and yesterday the Officers of His Majesty’s 40th Regiment entertained the Commander of the Forces at Dinner. This morning His Excellency returns to Parramatta.’ [80]

These social events would have been expensive to host – butter was 3/- per pound, eggs 1/6 to 2/- and vegetables scarce.[81] In March 1825 the Balcombes attended the race meeting and William obviously had a “right of way” dispute with one of the inhabitants of Sydney.

James Tanfield, a free man, charged by William Balcombe, Esq. Colonial Treasurer and J. P., with having furiously driven the carriage of his mistress, Mrs. Jenkins, against Mr. Balcombe’s carriage, in a narrow road, on returning from the races on Thursday last, whereby the lives of His Majesty’s subjects were endangered, and some Ladies in carriages then passing, were put into serious alarm. Sir John Jamison, having deposed in substance to the same effect, the   prisoner was ordered to be bound over in good and efficient sureties to keep the peace towards all His Majesty’s subjects, and more especially towards William Balcombe, Esq. for 12 months.’ [82]

The local newspapers published lists of benefactors for the churches, schools and institutions for the poorer children. Wm Balcombe, Esq. Colonial Treasurer donated five guineas for Scots Church, so was one of the five who did so.[83] He donated £5 to the Wesleyan Missionary Society.[84]

As these amounts were published for all to read, it would have been well nigh impossible to refuse to give a donation and the level of generosity would have been scrutinised with sharp eyes!

To cope with all the entertaining and the travel from place to place the Balcombe’s had servants assigned to them. They included several convicts but a couple ‘came free’, Ellen Parr aged 17 and Mrs Sloman who was 40, She had obviously travelled to the colony to be with her husband…. two Slomans (brothers?) had arrived on the ‘Huntley’.

‘M788, James McGurvie, 36, GS, Borodini, 1828, L, footman, O’Connell St’

‘N505, John Norton, 36, GS, C Harcourt, 1828, Coachman, O’Connell St’

‘S1180, Sloman, F, 34, GS, M Huntly, 1828, servant, O’Connell St’

‘S1182, Henry James Sloman, G 30, GS, M Huntly, 1828,7, P, Overseer, O’Connell St’

William Balcombe was good friends with Sir John Jamieson. It was through him that he met a French Naval Officer Hyacinthe Bougainville who was in Sydney officially for three months in 1825 to study the hydrology and commercial activity of the country. He was also there unofficially to spy on garrison strength, any fortifications and their locations in NSW. He made the interesting observation that should an enemy appear on the horizon the Sydney authorities would have to fight not only the enemy but also 19,000 convicts who would be motivated to gain their freedom.

Befriended by Sir John Jamieson, John Oxley and William Balcombe, the French officer attended several social events in Sydney. Hyacinthe was thrilled to discover that Betsy knew Napoleon and that she spoke ‘good French’. He was delighted to dance with her as ‘he held in his arms an almost personal link with the Emperor‘.[85] Betsy organised a small ball a few days later, on 12 September 1825, where Hyacinthe realised he was ‘more and more attracted’ to Mrs Harriott Ritchie, née Blaxland, wife of Calcutta merchant Alexander Ritchie, in fact he conceded he was ‘perhaps a little too much‘ attracted. [86] He subsequently entertained several people including Betsy to lunch on board his ship on 16 September, followed by dinner and a dance in the evening. ‘Mrs Ritchie’ declared Hyacinthe ‘is a beautiful woman with a jealous husband’. The next evening he and Harriott had ‘enjoyed a romantic tête-à-tête’ at Balcombe’s and the pair promised to meet at midnight on board his ship but he received a note saying she had a ‘prior engagement.’ He saw her and her husband at a dinner on shore where he received an angry note from Mr Ritchie and, on 21 September, Hyacinthe sailed without ever seeing his beloved Harriott again. [87]



As the Colony developed agriculture was increasing in importance. It became obvious there was a shortage of grazing land for the increasing number of animals in the flocks and herds. Land on the Eastern side of the mountains may have originally been enough to supply the needs of a small settlement at Sydney Cove, but was now insufficient for the larger flocks of sheep now being run. Governor Brisbane thought flock sizes doubled every three years and he realised that land and water had to be found for the growing numbers of livestock.

It was the need for grass for sheep which encouraged the explorers to cross the Blue Mountains and head west to the plains. By 1823 the Monaro had been discovered, by 1824 the overland route to Port Phillip, and explorers were heading north to what we now call Queensland and working out the complexity of the Murrumbidgee-Murray and Darling rivers. There were other explorers quietly moving from waterhole to waterhole with their flocks, occupying the land as they travelled and becoming ‘squatters’. The Colonial Office in England was annoyed by this unauthorised move into Crown Land but Richard Bourke, a later Governor (from 1831-37) realised that realised that ‘wool was wealth’ in the new colony. [88] The number of pounds of wool sent to England increased from 175 thousand in 1821, to 1 million in 1826 and that had doubled to 2 million in just four more years.[89]

So land became of increasing importance especially land within easy distance of Sydney. On 5th August 1824, Governor Brisbane offered William Balcombe a grant of land, in reality it would be for his sons to run as Balcombe himself was fully occupied in his role of Treasurer. The land of 2,000 acres was located in the County of Argyle at Menanglo [sic] or Marley Plains about eighteen miles south of Lake George near present day Canberra.

William Balcombe called the property ‘The Briars’ after his former St Helena home and his oldest son William, though just a teenager of sixteen or so, was to be in charge.

He lived there and managed the Molonglo land. Over time the family obtained more land grants with a 4000 acre grant. By 1827 they reported a slab hut dwelling had been built along with dairy and stock yards, servants’ huts and other buildings and twelve acres were under cultivation. ‘The Briars’ was located in the Captain’s Flat area, on the Briars-Sharrow Road, also known as the Eleven Mile Turnoff and is named after two properties on the road.[90] (Eventually ‘The Briars’ was sold to Thomas Shanahan. He had previously been the licensee of the ‘Union Inn’, which was opened in 1838 at Keefe’s plains, Michelago. When he took up residence at ‘The Briars’ Thomas Shanahan rebuilt the slab house further up the hill because of the flooding of the Molonglo River. [91] )

It was not just William who applied for land. His daughter Betsy Abell also applied to Sir George Cockburn. Although single women generally were not allowed to own land there was a precedence set when Miss Walsh had received land. Bathurst in July 1826 advised it should be acceptable as long as Betsy had the funds. Betsy asked for land and advised her father was taking care of her stock. This extract of her letter to Cockburn, date not indicated, but obviously before her father died as he is going to become a Trustee for her and thus keep Edward Abell at bay.

‘You were so very kind as to say you would use your interest in procuring me an Order for a Grant of Land; it would indeed be a very great act of goodness and there would be no risk of my being deprived of it through the means of my unprincipled husband, my father and the Deputy Commissary here becoming Trustees for me; there are many instances of Land being so given to females; the usual grant to all descriptions of persons, who posses the means of stocking and farming it, is 2560 acres. I have had stock left me by a friend who died lately, and, not having any land of my own, my father at present takes care of my stock for me; if I was fortunate enough to procure a grant of land I should wish it to be near my father’s in the County of Argyll.’ [92]

So who was the friend who died and left her stock?

Sir George Cockburn appended a footnote, ‘If this can be done for Mrs Abell, whose father is Mr Balcombe formerly of St Helena and now Paymaster General (I believe) at Sydney, NSW, I shall feel obliged, Admiralty, June 1829. ‘

By the time Horace Twiss, writing for Sir George Murray sent a letter to Governor Darling in July 1829, he knew that William had died as he refers to him as ‘the late’

‘I am directed by Sir George Murray to transmit to you the accompanying extract of a letter addressed to Sir George Cockburn by Mrs Abell, a daughter of the late Colonial Treasurer, upon the subject of a grant of land which she is desirous of obtaining adjoining her late father’s property, and which, to prevent he being deprived of it through the means of her husband, she further requests may be placed in the hands of proper Trustees. Mrs Abell states that this mode of giving land to females has not unfrequently been adopted, and Sir George Murray would be glad to meet the wishes of the Lady, if it be reasonably practicable, though it is not his intention to authorize any such departure from the Regulations in her favour, as may be found hereafter an inconvenient precedent. ‘


Governor Darling, received the letter after Christmas 1829 and wrote the same day to Under Secretary Twiss.[93] ‘I beg to acquaint you, in reference to your letter of 1 July 1829, that direction have been given for placing Mrs Abell in possession of 1280 acres of land, conformably to the desire of the Sec of State, I have &c Ra Darling.’



Although a new colony was being built in New South Wales it was inevitable that many old customs came from the Old Country. With the convicts came the troops and as the country opened up came the squatters. With both the troops and squatters came the horse, with the horse came racing. Man has raced horse since ancient time. The first literary reference to racing was by Homer at the funeral of Patroclus but it was an ancient sport even then. Homer lived around 850 BC, the chariots dated back to the Mycenaean world up to a thousand years before. Xenophon (c430BC – 345BC) wrote a treatise on horsemanship. [94]

The first horses in NSW arrived from the Cape in 1788 and between 1795 and 1800 about 40 came and the Chileans came from Valpariso. Horses also came from India. In her excellent book The Colony, Grace Karskens reported that in those early days the civil and military officers aspired to develop the lifestyle of the eighteenth century country gentleman and many achieved it. It was to be a culture of patriarchy and paternalism, risk and style, coolness and courage with the development of rough plebeian sports such as cock fighting, bare knuckle fights and horse races. [95]

In June 1804 the newspaper reported the arrival of two capital Persian horses and four fine mares. New South Wales was bound to become a place to breed horses of excellent quality from those imported horses and the thoroughbred stock from England… the result was the Waler. The horses were used for hunting or racing, so horses were not used just to travel from one place to another, the competitive nature of Man required horses with staying power and speed, they enjoyed a challenging race over 5 to 15 miles, riding their own horses and backing them with their own guineas. [96]

By 1810 there were sufficient horses for races to be held at Parramatta, by the officers of the 73rd Regiment (and a horse called Parramatta won, with a trotting race won by Miss Betty). Some hounds came from England at this time, allowing the squatters and officers to hunt for kangaroo and dingo.[97] The ‘Kangaroo dogs’ in pictures painted by Thomas Tyrwhitt Balcombe for Mr Munn look very much like large rough coated greyhounds.

The first official race meeting was held in October 1810 ‘by permission of His Excellency the Governor’ on the Old Race Course (now Hyde Park). A Governor’s proclamation was issued forbidding the sale of liquor, and there was to be no gaming, swearing, quarrelling, drunkenness, fighting or boxing. Prizes were substantial, a silver cup worth fifty guineas given by the Ladies and a purse of fifty guineas given by the Magistrates.[98]

The success of the early races led to three or four days of racing each year and by 1821 the meetings were large and well organised. Eyre noted that twice they got up races on the ‘splendid plains‘ where on the first occasion Murphy rode Eyre’s horse to win and on the second Eyre won on a horse belonging to his neighbour William Balcombe. [99]

In November 1824 several prominent citizens applied to the Governor to hold a race meeting in Hyde Park and this was refused. The Australian newspaper suggested that races could be run under the auspices of the Agricultural Society.[100] It took more lobbying by the likes of Captain Piper and Sir John Jamieson to persuade the Governor to relent.[101]

On St Patrick’s Day in 1825 it was reported that a three-race meeting at John Piper’s course at Rose Bay saw competition between horses owned by Piper, John Jamieson and William Balcombe.[102]

It was inevitable that as early as the following day horse racing would become formalised with the foundation of the Sydney Turf Club, with George Mills elected Secretary and Balcombe being elected as the Treasurer. The meeting was reported in the local newspaper on 24 March 1825. Each member was to pay Ten Dollars, on his Admission; and Eight Dollars annually. Six stewards were to be elected. There were to be two race meeting a year, in April and November, an annual ball was to be held at the Spring meeting. The new committee agreed to ask the Governor to be Patron and the Chief Justice to be an Honorary Member of the Club. [103]

So the Sydney Turf Club held their first two day meeting at Piper’s Course at Parramatta starting on 25 April 1825. Campbell’s horse ‘Speedy’ won the first race and the main race, the Town Plate was won by Andrew Nash’s ‘Junius.’ Governor Brisbane attended both days of racing and the Race Ball.[104]

When Governor Brisbane was replaced by Governor Darling the new appointee was not an enthusiastic racing man but he did not openly oppose the sport.

By 1826 Sydney had its own new course just 14 miles away. By the 1840s Newmarket Rules had been adopted and there was a St Leger and a Gold Cup. As settlers moved from Sydney into country areas so every little bush township had its race-course. There was ‘always a Race Ball afterwards the high jinks carried on at these festivities are remarkable for their thorough abandon at night and prevailing headaches next day.[105] During these early times the quest for improvement continued with Sir John Jamieson remarking ‘the influence of the Turf Club continues to encourage proprietors of horses to send increasing numbers of mares to these thoroughbred entire blood horses imported from England. From the Arab blood of many of our mares the crosses of these horses cannot fail progressively to improve our Colonial stud.’ [106]

The Government was involved in the improvement of equine bloodlines with two horses at stud at Carters’ Barracks, ‘Satellite’ and ‘Punch’. It is not known if they were draught or carriage horses rather than finer riding animals but it appears that the former was very popular and payment had to be made to the Colonial Treasurer, so another task for Balcombe’s office.[107]

Life continued apace for the Colonial Treasurer in 1825. It seems that when Council meetings were held, the Governor travelled to town from Parramatta and stayed with the Balcombe family. Was this because there was no other suitable accommodation or did the men have a close friendship?

Notwithstanding the extreme wetness of the day His EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR came to Town on Tuesday morning. A Council was held the same day.   Pursuant to adjournment from Tuesday se’nnight,’ the Reverend Archdeacon SCOTT was installed into his distinguished Office, in the afternoon.  The COLONIAL TREASURER entertained the GOVERNOR at Dinner, in the evening; and yesterday morning early, His EXCELLENCY returned to Parramatta.’ [108]

The King’s Birthday celebrations were obviously an important day on the social calendar with the Sydney Gazette of 25 April 1825 reporting:

KING’S BIRTH-DAY.-Saturday last, being the 63d auspicious Anniversary of the Birth of Our Gracious and Beloved Sovereign, George the Fourth, the same was observed as a Holiday throughout the Territory, and was commemorated with the accustomed demonstrations of loyalty and affection.-At sun-rise the Royal Standard was displayed at Dawes’ Battery, and the Union Jack at Fort Philip.

At noon a Royal Salute was fired from Dawes’ Battery, and the Troops in Garrison did the usual military honours in Barrack-square, under the command of Colonel Thornton, 40th Regiment, firing a feu-de-joie. ‘

The ships in the harbour exhibited the costume customary to so distinguished an event; and, at one o’clock, His Majesty’s sloop of-war Slaney, in full dress, fired a Royal Salute, with manned yards.

In the evening a Party of Gentlemen, consisting of sixty-three, partook of a sumptuous Dinner at Hill’s Tavern, Hyde Park. The chair was taken at half-past six o’clock, by the Sheriff (John Mackaness, Esq.) who was confronted by the Colonial Treasurer (William Balcombe, Esq.) Several loyal and appropriate toasts were drank, and the utmost urbanity prevailed throughout the evening. The Band of the 40th was in attendance. Amongst the Company present were noticed, Major Goulburn, Colonel Thornton, Sir John Jamison, Captain Mitchell, H. M. S. Slaney, Mr. Oxley, the Officers of the Russian ship Helena, &c. &c. &c.[109]

In May 1825 the task of keeping of Excise accounts was given to a Samuel Bates, the new Surveyor of Distilleries, so that would relieve the Colonial Treasurer’s clerks of some duties although Bates still had to report to the Office.

‘EARL BATHURST, having been pleased to appoint Mr. SAMUEL BATES to the Situation  of Surveyor of the Distilleries of New South Wales, to act under the Orders of the Colonial Treasurer, and to account to him for the Monthly Receipts of Excise, He is from this Date to enter upon the Duties of his Office. By His Excellency’s Command, F. GOULBURN, Colonial Secretary.’ [110]

In August 1825 a court case took place when the plaintiff , a merchant called Mr James, took action against the defendant Mr Balcombe the Colonial Treasurer.

Mr. Wentworth opened the case.  The plaintiff is a Merchant of this town, and the defendant the Colonial Treasurer.  The plaintiff had been induced to pay a sum of £750, for duties, to Captain Piper (the Naval Officer), in consequence of a letter which he received, threatening to institute legal proceedings against him, unless immediately paid.  The money had been subsequently paid by the Naval Officer into the hands of the defendant.

The Court now adjourned to give Counsel on both sides an opportunity of drawing up admissions for a special case.

Tuesday. The above case [sic] came before the Court this day, and a verdict was found for the plaintiff for £750, subject to decision of the law points.

Another tobacco case at this time was Raine and Ramsey versus Piper in August 1825. The newspaper editor of the Sydney Gazette on 11 August 1825 argued that the duties were lawfully due.  He described the plaintiff’s case as being ‘pregnant with imbecility‘.  He also said that the plaintiffs were attempting to recover duty even though the public had already reimbursed them for it. All this led to questions respecting the legality of the duties and that was to be decided by the following Saturday.[111] The lengthy judgment of the Chief Justice was reported in The Australian of 25 August 1825.

It was not too much later in the year that the experiment of ‘Trial by Jury’ was discussed.

Trial by Jury.-Often have we had the pleasure of strenuously advocating the necessity of this British Boon being forthwith established amongst us, upon principles as universal and unlimited as those existent in the Mother Country ; and we have been prompted to this step from a positive consideration of its urgency and practicability-facts that are notorious by every-day experience. In thus reverting to a theme of such intense public importance, we must express our sense of obligation to the Gentleman who so kindly deposited in our hands, for general information, the appended document, which is happily illustrative of all the many and various arguments that have been brought forward in behalf of a Cause that must be dear to every Englishman-aye, Englishmen even in Australia! This will doubtless operate as another cordial to the expiring hopes of those few worthies who would not fail to retain the Colonists in durance vile, so that their own sordid ends could be happily accomplished. We are only awaiting the expiration of another week or two, and then our operations will be complete to enter upon a line of policy that will astound not a few. We have never yet systematically opposed any party, merely because they have been inimical to us on any particular subject, but when men and factions are resolutely determined upon setting us universally at defiance, we must resolve upon a system that will soon cause such weak minds to repent of their rashness, but repentance then will come too late. If men, or parties, require us to observe neutrality, let them understand we are as insusceptible of bribery, as we are apprehensive of ignoble threats : when we are wantonly assailed by the arm of assassination, our opponents may not hope for escape. Now for the document, which stamps the patriotism of the Australian Magistracy:

“Sir,” Sydney, Sept. 20, 1825.   In obedience to the command of your Excellency, received through a letter from your Excellency’s Private Secretary, dated the 22d of this month, requesting the opinion of the Magistrates of Sydney, as to the general effects of the Trial by Jury, as experienced during the last year, and its influence upon Society in general, in this Colony ; we beg leave to state, that it is our unanimous opinion, that the Juries have conducted themselves with great propriety, and that the establishment of the Trial by Jury, even upon its present limited scale, has given a general feeling of security in the enjoyment of our civil rights: and we beg leave further, respectfully to submit to your Excellency, that we consider this Colony is now in a state to allow of the Trial by Jury being extended, with public advantage, to the Supreme Court. ” We have the honor to be, &c.

William Carter, Chairman., J.T. Campbell, J. P., Thomas McVitie, J. P., William Wemyss, J. P., Alex. Berry, J. P., John Oxley, J. P., F. Rossi, J. P., W. Balcombe, J. P.’ [112]

By now Brisbane’s tenure as Governor was drawing to a close, with several ‘farewell’ functions arranged. At one held in October 1825 he was exhorted to approach the British Government to allow some changes to occur in NSW, trial by jury and taxation by representation.

While we are bidding Your Excellency farewell, we feel that we can entirely rely upon your watchfullness to embrace all opportunities which may offer, on your return, of suggesting to His Majesty’s Government the pressing necessity which exists for the immediate establishment, in this Colony, in all their plenitude, of those two fundamental principle’s of the British Constitution, Trial by Jury, and Taxation by Representation. We are not ignorant, that upon both these  subjects, Your Excellency’s opinion has long- been accordant with the general opinion of the Colony. Your Excellency cannot but have felt the inconvenience of directing the efforts of a free People, left at large as it were to guide themselves by the analogies and recollections of English law, and English usage, in the absence of their ancient free institutions … a People whose good sense, moral feeling, and patriotism alone, have prevented them from a louder expression of their impatience, when their English prejudices have been outraged by the unavoidable vexatious of a Government, so anti-British in its structure mid operation, that it would be difficult to designate it by a just name’.

With respect to Trial by Jury, the Magistrates of Sydney have already expressed the voice of the people, in their answer to the patriotic interrogatory put to them by Your Excellency ; and as to that other great first principle of the British Constitution, Taxation by Representation, we are aware how much Your Excellency has needed the assistance   of a deliberative Assembly, which, to prevent the influence of party-faction, ought to consist of at least one hundred members-a number which our population can readily furnish, of men in every way qualified to discharge that duty to their fellow Colonists.’ [113]

There was obvious scepticism of what would happen to the ideas once the by-then-former Governor Brisbane presented the ideas to the British Parliament. The fate of Macquarie and his requests were still fresh in the minds of the NSW populace.


It does appear, then, that our worthy GOVERNOR, Sir THOMAS BRISBANE, is determined on leaving Australia, and that the day of his departure is at hand. While we think on the subject, it is perhaps as well to bring to the remembrance of His EXCELLENCY what the loyal and affectionate Inhabitants of New South Wales would have Him do for them when He reaches that Senate, of which we have little doubt Sir THOMAS BRISBANE is destined to become no ordinary Member. From venerated MACQUARIE, whose Name is yet dear to our lips, we were led to anticipate blessings innumerable, even in His Retirement from a painfully arduous Government—but foul-mouthed calumny—double-tongued slander—and diabolic misrepresentation closed every door to the usefulness of that Ex-Governor on His arrival at Downing-street : thus far did the enemies of that great and good   Man, and the opponents of every patriotic and loyal subject in these Colonies, succeed in their malevolent artifices—and General MACQUARIE, it is too much feared, became sacrificed on the altar of their ambition—fell a victim to inordinate revenge ; and, even in death, their fervent aspirations for his eternal destruction doubtless follow him : tell it not in Gath—publish it not in Askelon—but proclaim it in New South Wales ! However, with the demise of MACQUARIE, the hopes of this savage and infuriate clan must be pretty nigh extinct; for, if they anticipate similar results as the necessary consequence of their insidious winnings in reference to the alleged injustice rendered to them by His present Excellency, we are bold enough to aver, with the same confidence as if we were actually on the spot, that these very excellent worthies will be most egregiously disappointed—their day is gone— the meridian of their ambition is past—their sun is set—and now they may comfort each other with the miserable reflection of what they once were, since, in future, the fates have irreversibly decreed that they must be content to rank only as fallen stars ! Sir THOMAS BRISBANE—not that we are authorised thus to express ourselves—will meet his enemies as He has valiantly done before, in the field, face to face ! He will meet them, not sword in hand—to which he has been accustomed— but He will meet their every charge in person ; He will meet them on that theatre where justice is certain of being awarded ; He will meet them in the view of the British Public—He will meet them in the British Cabinet—He will meet them in the British Senate—not in the way which the base and dastardly assassin has met Him, poignarding Him in the dark and in the back, but Sir THOMAS BRISBANE will confront and confute His imbecile opponents the moment the grateful opportunity shall be afforded ! Then, O ye Australians, where will the most depraved of assassins secrete their detested heads! Hell itself will not preserve them from the scrutiny and horrors of a retributive judgment-day! The GOVERNOR in CHIEF of these Colonies is nobly determined on patriotically crushing the enemies of this Country— the disturbers and common pests of Downing- street—by challenging them openly to substantiate those charges which they have fearlessly ventured   on instituting in secret.  

As the present opportunity offers, in behalf of the Colonists, we must remind His EXCELLENCY of Australia’s Claims upon Him. Sir THOMAS BRISBANE will not forget that we are lamentably off in the absence of Trial by Jury, and we have no doubt that His representation alone, to our Revered and Beloved MONARCH, will soon waft to our shores so much needed a blessing. The second object for consideration that we would beg to commend to the paternal care of His EXCELLENCY is, that He will exert his powerful influence in abolishing that hateful line of distinction which is yet existent as the demarcation between the Emancipist and the Emi- grant :—to the former it is unnecessarily painful ; and to the latter, it is in the utmost degree odious. We are aware, however, and so is His EXCELLENCY, that some Colonists would have the line of separation upon a broader scale ; but we do live in hopes, that Sir THOMAS BRISBANE will be instrumental in knocking down this uncalled-for barrier. His EXCELLENCY has already acknowledged that, in no instance, have the Emancipists ever given Him pain in His Government ; and such also is the high character every GOVERNOR has been con- strained to afford this preponderating and wealthy Body of Inhabitants. The third, and last petition, that we have to implore at His EXCELLENCY’S hands, when in His native land, is, that He will not fail to remember the urgent claims that exist in behalf of the immediate establishment of a House of Assembly in these Colonies. In regard to this latter Boon, if it may not more properly be termed a Right, we take the liberty of reminding His EXCELLENCY, that He has been pleased fully to con- cur in this, as well as in every other design, that would benefit the People He at present governs, and which have a tendency rapidly to “ADVANCE   AUSTRALIA!” We shall not now pursue the subject any further, since the Colonists are aware of the liberal views entertained by His EXCELLENCY in reference to this rising and promising State.’ [114]

In October 1825, the Sydney Gazette listed Edward Barnard as a Colonial Agent in England. Was he related to Henry Gee Barnard of Cave Castle, South Cave in Yorkshire, the largest land owner in the area where Jane Balcombe’s sister and her husband Teavil Leason lived? In 1827 Leason challenged him to a duel but it never eventuated.[115]

The same time as there were attempts to improve the justice system there was also a move for a free public Grammar School to be established to give the children of Sydney some form of education and all the men of note in the town, including William Balcombe, signed their support for the proposal.


NOTHING can be more creditable to the Feelings, and to the Judgment, of the Colonists of New South Wales, than the prompt and liberal Support, with which every Measure, embracing Objects of Public Utility, it encouraged and patronized, by Persons of every Grade in their Community. The recent Proposals for the Foundation, and Endowment, of a Public Free Grammar School, in the Town of Sydney, though suggested, published, and circulated by a very humble Individual, have met immediate, and pointed Attention. -Several Letters, received on the Subject, breathe such Sentiments of public Spirit, and disinterested Philanthropy, that considerations of delicacy alone prevent me from giving them a publicity, which might more widely extend their influential Principle of Beneficence. I feel, however, a proud Gratification in announcing, that my Plan has been honoured by the unqualified Approval and warm Support, of several Gentlemen of the first Respectability ; few of whom can personally benefit by its adoption ; and who must, there- fore, indisputably be urged by purely disinterested, and public-spirited motives, to distinguish it by their Patronage. Among these, I should feel it a culpable ommision, did I not particularise the Rev. J. J THERRY, the Roman Catholic Chaplain, who, in the handsomest Terms, has expressed his Approbation of the Plan, as tending prospectively to promote the moral and intellectual Improvement of the rising Race; and has tendered every Aid, in his Power, for carrying it into effect.’

‘The Gentlemen, whose Names follow, have already signified their Intention to become Governors of the proposed Institution:

The Hon. Chief Justice Forbes, The Honorable Mr. Justice Stephen John M’Arthur, Esq., Hannibal M’Arthur, Esq. , James M’Arthur, Esq., William M’Arthur, Esq., William Wemyss, Esq., William Carter, Esq., George Mills, Esq., William Bland, Esq., John Mackenness, Esq., Mr. John Tawell, John Oxley, Esq., Simeon Lord, Esq., George Allen, Esq., R.Howe, George Thomas Savage, Esq., James Foster, Esq., Mr. Daniel Cooper, Mr. Thomas Rose, Gregory Blaxland, Esq., William Lawson, Esq., Mr. James Chisholm, Henry-Grattan Douglass, Esq. M. D., Mr. William Hutchinson, Mrs M. Reibey, Samuel Terry, Esq., Robert Campbell, jun. Esq., Mr. James Wilshire, Mr. Henry Marr, William Balcombe, Esq., Captain Rossi.’

Governor Brisbane’s tenure was rapidly drawing to a close and the Civil Officers wished to express their appreciation for his leadership during his time in office. He was obviously well liked by all classes of townsfolk for his humanity, his attempts to improve life for the emancipists and educate their children.

THE CIVIL OFFICERS Thursday last, being the day appointed by His Excellency Sir THOMAS BRISBANE for the purpose of receiving the Address of the Civil Officers on the occasion of His Retirement from the Government of these Colonies, the Gentlemen, whose names are affixed to the subjoined Address, and who were we suppose deputed to represent the Civil Officers of New South Wales, waited upon His EXCELLENCY at the Government-house, Sydney, and met with the accustomed-gracious salutation. As we are afforded the opportunity of presenting the Address and Answer herewith to our Readers, we will let them speak for themselves :


To His Excellency Major-General Sir THOMAS BRISBANE, K. C. B. Captain General and Governor in Chief, in and over His Majesty’s Territory of New South Wales and its Dependencies, &c, &C, &c

May it please Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned Civil Officers of New South Wales, beg leave to approach Your Excellency, on the eve of your departure from the Colony, with the warmest sentiments of respect and esteem.

Our Official capacities precluded us from joining- in the tribute of grateful admiration, which Your Excellency’s public conduct called forth from all classes of the Community, at the late General Meeting of the Colonists.

Anxious, however, to evince our respectful attachment, we earnestly entreat permission to place a Portrait of Your Excellency in the Government- house of New South Wales, to remain as a Memento of the warm and affectionate feelings with which Your Excellency has inspired us.

We have the honor to be, your Excellency’s faithful and devoted Servants,

WILLIAM STEWART, Lieutenant Governor, FRANCIS FORBES, Chief Justice, John STEPHEN, Assist. Justice of Supreme Court, W. BALCOMBE, Colonial Treasurer, J. OXLEY, Surveyor General, JOHN PIPER, Naval Officer, J. P., WM. CARTER, Master of the Supreme Court, H. G. DOUGLASS, Clerk of the Council, WM. LITHGOW, Acting Com. of Civil Accounts, JOHN CAMPBELL, Commissioner for Apportioning the Colony, G. G. MILLS, Registrar of the Supreme Court, F. ROSSI, J. P. Superintendent of Police, M. ANDERSON Assistant Surgeon, F. A. HELY, Prin. Superintendent of Convicts, G. T. BOYES, Dep. Assist. Com. General, W. H. MOORE. Master of the Crown Office, JOHN PIPER, jun. Assistant Naval Officer, JOHN NICHOLSON, Master Attendant, Rev. THOMAS REDDALL, J. MITCHELL, Assistant Surgeon, FRED GARLING, Solicitor for the Crown, D. MACLEOD, Police Magistrate of Parramatta, R. CRAWFORD. Principal Clerk in the Office of the Colonial Secretary.’ [116]

A week later there was a Public dinner to farewell Brisbane at Nash’s Inn, Parramatta, with William Balcombe as one of the distinguished guests [117] and yet another dinner was arranged by the Turf Club just a few days later.

‘THIS is unquestionably the era for Addresses and Dinners. A worthy Governor has no small difficulties to contend with, when on the eve of breaking from his supporters and friends and to the susceptible mind these are seasons of no ordinary kind. Sir THOMAS BRISBANE must feel acutely when he reflects that he is retiring from the bosom of a Colony wherein he is idolized by the various Members of that Community over which he has presided, with so much honour to himself, for the last four years of his life. The Gentlemen of the Turf felt themselves bound to come forward, in their professional sporting character, and, independently of the customary gratulations of the times, entertained His EXCELLENCY at Dinner on Wednesday evening last, at Hill’s Tavern, Hyde Park. Our Reporter, unfortunately, could not get access, otherwise our pleasure would have been considerably heightened in affording the Public a full account of all that passed on this interesting occasion. We have, however, gleaned a few particulars, and as it is unprofessional with us to keep secrets, our Readers will have the benefit of all we know.’

‘The Dinner, which was served up in true English style-a happy knack that Mrs. Hill has learnt- was on the table by seven precisely. Mr. Mackaness, the Sheriff, was President, and Captain Piper, Naval Officer, the Vice President-two Gentlemen ably qualified to fill these important chairs. On the right hand of the President was seated His Excellency Sir THOMAS BRISBANE, while the chair on his left was occupied by His Honor Lieutenant Governor STEWART: the President was thus ably and nobly supported. The other Gentlemen were promiscuously seated, whose names are as follow :

Colonel Dumaresq, Acting Chief Engineer ; Mr. Balcombe, Colonial Treasurer; Mr. Carter, Master in the Supreme Court; Colonel Cameron (Buffs); Major Lockyer,57th ; Captain Stirling, A. D. C; Captain Fennell, Commandant at Bathurst; Captain Kingcombe, R. N ; Colonel Mills, Registrar ; Dr. Douglass, Clerk of the Council ; Mr. Lithgow, Commissary of Accounts; Mr. Mackenzie, Secretary to the Colonial Bank ; Dr. Wardell ; Mr. W. C. Wentworth ; Mr. Boyes, D. A. C. G ; Captain Boyd (Buffs) ; Captain Moore, 40th ; Mr. Brooks, Magistrate ; Mr. Bell, Magistrate; Mr. Aspinall, Mr. Raine, Mr. Browne, Mr. Garling, Dr. Ivory (Buffs) ; Dr. Jones, 40th ; Mr. John Blaxland ; Dr. Bland ; Mr. George Forbes, Magistrate ; Captain Lethbridge ; Mr. King, Barrack-master; Mr. Macvitie, Magistrate ; Mr. Hindson, Mr. Piper, jun. &c. &c. &c.

After the usual complimentary toasts, in allusion to the jockey sports, had been given from the chair, it was proposed by Mr. Wentworth to drink the health of Master AUSTRALIA THOMAS BRISBANE, expressing the fervent hope that his name might be enrolled as an Honorary Member on the Australian Turf Club List, which was drank with every demonstration of affectionate regard.

His Excellency promised, in the strongest language, to promote the views of the Club on the other side of the globe, if the Gentlemen would only continue to prosecute their designs with unremitting energy ; and He was also pleased to remark, that He entertained no doubt His Successor, General DARLING, would not be found to do less for the Club than himself.

The wines were of the most choice kinds, and dealt forth with a liberality quite characteristic of the prominent Members of the Club-to name whom would, indeed, be invidious.

The Governor so much enjoyed the pleasures of the evening, that it was midnight before His Excellency retired-leaving the majority of the Gentlemen to terminate the business of the night.

Another Meeting of the Colonists is called on Tuesday (to-morrow forenoon) at the Sydney Hotel, or the laudable purpose of presenting His EXCELLENCY with a Piece of Plate, as finally commemorative of their lasting esteem for His Person and Government. This Testimonial will be appropriately inscribed. We hope to see a goodly number collect on this occasion.[118]

The Sydney Gazette of 17 November 1825 carried an advertisement for the meeting and Balcombe was one of the ‘committee of three to carry out the above object.’ Three days earlier the same newspaper had reported that ‘the name of William Balcombe Esq, Colonial Treasurer was accidently omitted in the new precept of Justices of the Peace.’

It appears that Balcombe was a member of the Masonic Lodge as he was listed as being at the meeting at Governor’s Offices held on 1 December 1825 to farewell the Governor. The newspaper reported on the address from the Lodge and the Governor’s response.


TUESDAY the 22nd ult at 3 p.m. being the hour fixed -by His Excellency the Governor for receiving- the deputation from the Leinster Masonic Lodge, of Australia, the Following Address was presented and most graciously received : To his Excellency Major General Sir Thomas Brisbane, K. C. B. — C. M. F I &c, &c. Governor in Chief   of New South Wales and its dependencies, &c. &c. We, the Masters, Wardens, Officers, and Brethren of the Leinster Marine Lodge of Australia, No.-266, held under Warrant from the Grand Lodge of Ireland, conjointly with the sub scribed Masonic Brethren residing in the Colony, beg leave, upon the eventful moment of your Excellency’s departure from hence, very respectfully to tender you our sentiments and feelings of respect, and esteem for yourself and family ; and grateful admiration of the rules and principles which have universally guided and directed your Excellency’s administration. Deeply impressed with a due sense of the many blessings   bestowed on this infant Colony, by those measures, we cannot withhold expressing our general and individual regret in the moment of separation, which we are sorry to say, is so near at hand — but, which we sincerely hope may increase the happiness of your Excellency’s Future life, and add honour and prosperity to every branch of your family, which, from the nature of events, could not reasonably, be anticipated in this distant part of the world. From a society, whose views are ever directed to the dissemination of charity, peace, love, and harmony – whose tenets are truth and justice, nothing like flattery or dissimulation can be expected. As our obligations to Masonic duty prevent us from entering upon the benefits which this Colony has derived from your political administration, yet, permit us, Sir,~ again to repeat our congratulations on the advantages, it has derived internally and mo rally, during that period. That the heartfelt satisfaction, arising from conscious rectitude and integrity, may always accompany your Excellency through life — that pleasing and prosperous gales may waft you safely and speedily to the shores of your ancestors, and in the bosom of your family, where you may long enjoy the blessings of domestic and social happiness, is the ardent and sincere wish of your Excellency’s most respectful obedient and humble servants, W. L. Edwardson, W.M.; John Macrae, No. 284, Ireland; John Payne, S. W. J. R. Kent, 260 ; Richard Kemp, J. W. J.-Richenberg, 284; Arthur Hill P.M.; M. J. Netleton, 260; Abner Browne; T. G. Smith 230; R. D. Cunninghame; S. S Woodcock, Brazilian Orient, &c. MO Royal York ;- Thomas Boulton, President, Permanent Committee ; W.H. Moore, 227 ,L. S. M, V;   James Warman No. 260; Thomas Macvitie; James McBrien, S. D.; Wm. Balcombe, St. Helena; Joseph Burrel, -Tyler; D McLeod 334 Ireland; John Marten; John Piper, L. S. M. V. 227; James Munn, Kilwenning; R.C. Prichett,Bengal. ‘  [119]

When and where did Balcombe become a Free Mason? From the above list, it appears that it had been on St Helena but the Masonic Lodge of St Helena (No. 488) was not officially founded until 1843 in Jamestown. [120] Prior to then there is no doubt that visiting Masons within the naval and military officers had held meetings on the Island before and during the exile of Napoleon Bonaparte.

The former Emperor was himself more than likely a member of the Masonic Brotherhood as were many of his trusted contemporaries although ‘it has never been definitely established that he (Napoleon) was made a Freemason, either in Valence…Marseille, Nancy …. Malta, Egypt or elsewhere. What is certain is that members of the expedition he commanded during the Egyptian campaign brought the Freemasonry to the banks of the Nile. General Kleber founded the “Isis” Lodge in Cairo (was Bonaparte a co-founder?), while Brothers Gaspard Monge (member, among others, of the “Perfect Union” Military Lodge, Mezieres) and Dominique Vivant Denon (a member of Sophisians, “The Perfect Meeting” Lodge, Paris) were among the scholars who would make this strategic and military setback a success that the young General Bonaparte would exploit upon his return to France. What is also undeniable is that, beginning with Bonaparte’s coup of 18 Brumaire, the Freemasonry would thrive for 15 extraordinary years, multiplying the number of lodges and members. The First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte, understanding the advantages he could derive from the obedient Freemasonry, invested in these reliable men, hoping to be rewarded with faultless servility. He was not disappointed.[121]



There was to be a short time lag of 16 days between the departure of Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane and the arrival of Governor Sir Ralph Darling, so an Acting Governor was sworn in to carry out the official duties for the intervening period, with Darling arriving on 17 December 1825. [122]

PURSUANT to Official Notice given in the last Gazette, the Civil, Naval, and Military Officers began to assemble at the Government-house, Sydney, at eleven o’clock in the forenoon, on Tuesday last, for the purpose of witnessing the ceremony of His Honor the Acting Governor being sworn into His distinguished Office.

About half-past 11, His Honor entered the Council Chamber, accompanied by the Honorable the  CHIEF JUSTICE, the Venerable the ARCHDEACON, and the other Members of the Council. The Colonial Secretary then received from His Honor three documents, one of which was His MAJESTY’S Commission appointing WILLIAM STEWART, Es quire, Lieutenant Colonel of the 3d Regiment (Buffs), to be Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales and its Dependencies ; the others comprised a Letter, and Instructions, bearing the signature of Earl BATHURST, Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, to His Excellency Sir THOMAS BRISBANE, K. C. B. on the occasion of His Retirement from the Government. After these were recited by Major GOULBURN, the CHIEF JUSTICE administered the Oaths of Office to the ACTING GOVERNOR ; upon the conclusion of which His Honor bowed to the Assembly, and retired.

Immediately after the ceremony a salute of 19 -guns was fired from Dawes’ Battery, in honour of the occasion.

His Honor the ACTING GOVERNOR invited all the Heads of the various Departments to dine with Him at the Mess-house of the 3d Regiment (Buffs) on Tuesday evening.

Amongst the distinguished Guests were the Venerable the Archdeacon, the Colonial Secretary, the Colonial Treasurer, the Acting Private Secretary, the Clerk of the Council, the Acting Chief Engineer, the Naval Officer, &c. &c. Sec. We believe the Chief Justice was not present from indisposition.’ [123]

In 1825 local newspapers were published even on Christmas Day and this year there was this surprising story….

‘THE AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY.-From undoubted authority, we have just ascertained that that highly respected and much valued Public Officer, Mr. Balcombe has forwarded his resignation to Mr. BERRY, the Secretary of this Institution. The only reason that Mr. Balcombe assigns for depriving the Society of his powerful influence is a “recent event.” That this “event” must be extremely painful to beget so decided a step, we are constrained to admit, and from what the numerous Members of the Agricultural Society know of Mr. Balcombe, and his amiable and interesting family, we are certain they will fully sympathize with him in the cause which has led to so disagreeable an “event” since we feel assured, that the whole body of the Colonists, from certain reports which , have been flitting about, will feel profound regret that Mr Balcombe should be obliged to forego further connexion, with one of the most respectable and weighty Bodies in New South Wales. If Mr. Balcombe were only a private individual in our Society, he might be indifferent to our regard, but we esteem him as one of the Members of the Colonial Government, of high rank, and unsullied honour, and it is the knowledge of such facts that renders it imperative on us, as we stand connected with the Society, and also with the Public, to notice a resignation which, at least, we fervently hope, will be enquired into; it being our opinion, that so efficient a Member should not be lost to the Agricultural Society, unless upon good grounds.’ [124]

What had happened to cause this sudden resignation of Balcombe, which resulted in William Walker becoming the Society’s new Treasurer? [125] A search using the brilliant National Library of Australia’s Trove website of the several hundred Sydney and NSW newspapers for two full years fails to shed any more light on this story so we are left to speculate on what really happened and the silence which protected him.[126] It appears that he did not lose any friends over the event and one would have thought that any impropriety would have seen some withdrawal of his social ranking.

However William Balcombe appears to have remained at work with advertisements appearing in the newspaper to do with selling land, collecting arrears in unpaid fees and he was listed as the presiding Magistrate for 9 January 1926.

Some weeks later The Gazette of 22 February 1826 reported that he had been ‘alarmingly indisposed for several days past ‘ [127] and this is the first published indication that his health was affecting his public life. (Betsy had already commented on his poor health in her letter to Torrens of 10 August 1824.) However Balcombe accompanied the new Governor on a visit to the hulk ‘Phoenix’

‘Saturday last, His Excellency the Governor visited the Phoenix Hulk, and inspected the prisoners, as well as minutely examined the vessel throughout ; and the result was, that His Excellency expressed himself much pleased with all that he saw on board, lamenting, however, that the men could not be fully employed, which would, on the one hand, afford amusement to the prisoners ; and, on the other, turn their exile to some good account. It is not improbable, therefore, that some steps will be immediately resorted to, with the view of keeping the prisoners employed.His Excellency then directed the barge to be rowed round Goat island, where, it is said, there is some intention, at no distant day, of building a capacious dock. To this island it is considered that the filth from the Hulk might be conveyed.’

‘His Excellency seemed quite enraptured with the view of the harbour, and was pleased to express himself in terms of high admiration at the enchanting scenery that presented itself in every direction.- The Colonial Treasurer and the Master Attendant, accompanied His Excellency on this  occasion.’ [128]

Balcombe and his family were involved in the social events over Easter

‘On Wednesday last His EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR, Mrs. DARLING, and FAMILY, honoured Point Piper with a visit, and expressed themselves highly delighted with the style in which the mansion is fitted up, and admired its enviable situation and plan. His EXCELLENCY was pleased to say it was one of the prettiest scenes he had ever beheld.

On Saturday last a party of fashionables was entertained at Point Piper, amongst whom were the Honorable Mr. M’LEAY and Family; the COLONIAL TREASURER and Family; Mr. Justice STEPHEN, and Family, &c. Sec. Sec.

The Honorable Mr. M’LEAY, and his worthy LADY, elegantly entertained a Party of Ladies and Gentlemen on Monday last, at his residence in Macquarie-place. The Colonial Treasurer and Family, the Surveyor General, the Naval Officer and Mrs. Piper, Captain and Mrs. Rossi, with several Military Officers and their Ladies, were of the de- lighted group.

This day (Wednesday) the Colonial Treasurer (WILLIAM BALCOMBE, Esq.) will be honoured by the Company of nearly the same Party, to partake of an entertainment no way inferior to those usually given in Australia.

Ultimo-house, the seat of Mr. Chief Justice STEPHEN, will close the festivities of the Easter week in the polite world, as His Honor and Mrs. STEPHEN will entertain a brilliant display of beauty, rank, and fashion, on the evening of Saturday.

Well may we all exclaim-without any danger of incurring the charge of affectation



William decided that as he was housing the Government’s Treasury in his home he thought that the Government should assist with the rent.

‘Considering that the Treasurer pays a rent of £150 pa, for his dwelling house and office….which is exclusively used for Official purposes, he is obliged to appropriate part of his dwelling house to the same use, and actually, for the better security of the public Money, keeps it in his own bed room. We are of the opinion that he ought to be allowed one half of the whole sum… £75 pa for office rent.’   [130]

The time delay between sending a letter to England and receiving a response from there was several months and no doubt a bane in the life of the officials tasked with running the distant colony.

It was not long into 1826 when a major scandal erupted.



In 1817 Governor Macquarie had granted charter to the Bank of New South Wales and the bank was subsequently incorporated by Colonial Legislature. An advertisement for a cashier and secretary appeared in the Sydney Gazette of 15 February 1817. Its capital came from private subscribers, not the Government. The Home Office was reluctant to permit the founding of the bank as they had failed to realise the colony had not only convicts and their guards, but also landowners, traders and merchants all wanting a bank for the purposes of commerce. There was financial turmoil following the Napoleonic Wars and the Bank of NSW ran into some difficulty. This was a challenging time, beginning with a serious loss in 1821 when it was discovered that the Bank of NSW’s Chief Cashier had stolen half of its subscribed capital, none of which was ever recovered.[131]

Another crisis in the Banking world developed with the report by the Board of Enquiry of 12 May 1826.

The amount held in the bank included monies in British gold and silver coin, Sicca Rupees and Spanish dollars, plus store receipts convertible on demand. A large amount was owing to the bank in securities falling due and mortgage deeds, and accommodation bills to the public, with much of the latter apparently on credit to a few people which if not honoured would have crashed the bank. People listed for big amounts included Robert Cooper, Robert Campbell and Raine and Ramsay. It appears Balcombe had suddenly paid in cheques from various people for a large total sum that covered the bank’s shortfall

At this time the fledgling Bank of Australia offered to take over the Government’s deposits and handle the discounting of bills… in other words the most profitable part of the bank’s business. [132] Known as the Merino Bank, it was the landowners bank, enjoying the support of Macarthur and his landed gentry cronies.[133] The market was then flooded with credit and the Bank of NSW was in great difficulty. Governor Darling authorised the Bank of NSW to draw on up to £20000 thus re-establishing its credit and averting disaster. Balcombe had also helped by paying large funds into the Bank of NSW. Subsequently Darling complained that that the Treasurer had put the Government’s money into jeopardy but Balcombe responded that the Commissariat stores had just been robbed, he had no money vault and only one sentry, advising that it was quite coincidental that his money had assisted the bank. [134]

It appears that Balcombe deposited public money into the Bank of NSW when he should have known it was unsafe to do so as the Bank was on the verge of bankruptcy. He was subsequently ordered to share the public moneys equally between the two banks then operating (the Bank of NSW and Bank of Australia). [135]

The Sydney Gazette of 17 May 1826 wrote a long and emotive article

‘AUSTRALASIAN POLITICS…..BANKING AFFAIRS.-The Country, at this moment, by the ingenuity of some designing men, and the want of knowledge of political economy in others, is reduced to a state of perplexity that baffles description. We present, at this crisis, a solvent Bank, and yet a sadly embarrassed Country an anomaly every way characteristic of this unequalled part of the globe. The people are all in a prosperous condition, and still they are to a man miserably embarrassed. And, added to these difficulties, there are certain men prowling about, who take every advantage of the times to increase the pressure of conflicting events. Notes of hand are daily falling due-the drawers have prepared themselves to fulfil their engagements, with other good securities-they apply to their neighbours-their neighbours apply to the Bank-and the Bank is not in circumstances to go on discounting, until the specie is obtained from the Government. The employer pays his men in dollar notes-the men take their notes to the Bank-the Bank says, “we cannot give dollars at present !” Here, therefore, we have a solvent Bank, and a distressed population. But will these things last ? Shall the enemies of the Old Bank see all their unpatriotic ends accomplished ? No ! They may for the moment pride themselves, and even feel happy in the apparent ruin around them-but their triumph will, indeed, be but transient. Most sedulously it was reported the other day, in order to increase the consternation, that the GOVERNOR had determined on assisting the Bank, and therefore signified that the Directors were at liberty to have recourse to the Colonial Treasurer’s deposit-and this deposit was said to have walked off in the Mangles! The ferment, at such intelligence, was rapidly rising every hour, and we know not where it would have stopped, had the same mischievous report not been immediately counteracted by a statement, at once honourable to our excellent and discriminating GOVERNOR, and highly satisfactory to the industrious, honest, and loyal Colonists.” There was no truth in the report relative to the deposit from the Colonial Treasury it was not a question any longer whether the Government should assist the Bank, and thereby save the whole Country from ruin-but the point in agitation was, in what way could the Institution be most effectually relieved, and the Country permanently benefitted. The matter was of too weighty a nature not to undergo important discussion in the Executive Council, where, we have every reason to believe, the point was warmly debated-but the mind of our GOVERNOR is not to be warped from those comprehensive views which his enlightened judgment is able at one glance to take of the real interests of a Country-one of the most affectionate and loyal in the world-which is at this juncture looking up to Him for deliverance from otherwise absolute penury. The people understand who are friendly to their interests, and those that are not-the very contour of some of our public men betray that which lurks within-the Colonists are thoroughly acquainted with their real friends, and we only hope that such valuable men may gain more confidence in the Government, and at all times unreservedly inform His EXCELLENCY what they know will best “ADVANCE AUSTRALIA.” The GOVERNOR, though He may hesitate to fall in with the views of such undisguised friendship and genuine support, and even supposing that He may have a different and more correct opinion of men and measures, yet His mind has been cast in too noble a mould not fully to appreciate such estimable characters. We are glad to see the friends of the Colonists rally round the GOVERNOR-and we congratulate them on the circumstance-but the theme most entitled to our congratulation is, that the GOVERNOR listens to the voice of the people, and promptly attends to their cry. We feel inclined to pursue this part of the subject, but our limits will not admit of giving scope to that gratitude with which our heart expands in behalf of our loyal fellow Colonists.

The books and accounts of the Bank have undergone a thorough investigation, and the Governor is satisfied with the result of the enquiries of the Gentlemen who have been so elaborately employed for several days. A detailed report was to have been prepared yesterday morning for His Excellency’s inspection and guidance; and, whilst we are writing, we entertain no doubt but the necessary orders will be issued for the removal of a sufficient quantity of sterling specie from the Commissariat to the Bank, when affairs will go on as prosperously as ever-though greater caution shou’d be exercised. At present all the houses in town, of any importance; take the Bank paper as specie-otherwise there would be a stagnation in trade, and industry would cease. We understand the Bank will only renew one-third, or a moiety of the notes falling due, which will be a great accommodation, though many must sensibly feel the pressure under which they will labour to find cash for the other moiety-but the Bank, we say, should come to this resolution, as it will only be by some such means that the mercantile interests will become rectified. Small notes should be circulated, and the expenditure not at present further increased ; then, in the course of a month or two, when the Bank feels a little more snug, and is able to command the Colony, as will be the case by a return to sterling considerations, the specie will not only get into, but keep in circulation. So long as there is a superabundance of paper afloat, it will be in vain to think of retaining the specie in circulation, as the excess of paper will necessarily continue to force it out of the market.

One word to the Bank of Australia. This Establishment we cordially hope, and are indeed confident, will prosper. But, should any of the Proprietors imagine that the prosperity of their institution will either be accelerated or secured by the destruction or injury of the Bank of New South Wales, they are woefully mistaken. With the Old Bank, not only will the rival Bank either stand or fall but the prosperity and destruction of the whole Country is involved in the destiny of the Bank of New South Wales![136]

The Directors of the Bank wrote to Secretary McLeay on 16 May 1826 ready to take appropriate measures as decreed by the Governor. The Memo for the Executive Council of 16 May, extended credit to the bank but noting that an arrangement must be made with the Treasurer, Mr Balcombe that he is not to draw on bank deposits ‘beyond his immediate wants for the public service and further that he make his payments in bank paper whenever practicable.’ [137]

On 18 May Mr John Piper, President of the Bank agreed for the Board and William Balcombe wrote: ‘In so far as may be practicable with me, as Colonial Treasurer, I agree to comply fully with His Excellency and Council memorandum of Yesterday’s date to your direction.’ [138]

On 22 May Governor Darling wrote to Lord Bathurst to explain Balcombe’s activities in regard to the bank, and the sudden deposit of 100,174 dollars into the bank on the verge of collapse.[139]

The inspection showed that his intention was to conceal the fact of his having been in the habit of discounting the Bills of Private Individuals, hoping, as may be presumed, that the money appearing to be in the Bank at the time of examination of that Establishment, that his previous transactions would not be enquired into or discovered. Mr Balcombe may contend that, his office being kept at his private residence, he considered it very insecure and unfit a place for the public money….Had the bank failed, Mr Balcombe no doubt would have been liable; but he possesses no property and the recovery of the money would have no doubt been found totally impracticable. It is my intention …to order the inspection of the Treasury at uncertain times and to forbid Mr Balcombe lodging the public money in the Bank or making use of it, as he appears most improperly to have done for his private purposes.’

Balcombe quickly responded

‘Sir —In reply to your letter of yesterday’s date I beg to state, for the information of His Excellency the Governor, that I have never received and specific instructions as to the mode, in which I should keep the Public Money; but as it has been the custom with my predecessor in office to keep it in the bank, and as there is a standing order of the late Gov Macquarie that the Notes of the Bank of NSW should be received in payment of duties, I conceived I was justified in following the example of the former Treasurer, more especially as I never had any reason to doubt the stability of the establishment, many of the proprietors of which are people of the most extensive property in the Colony. I had besides given such ample security to Government before I entered on the duties of my situation, that I conceived I was in a great measure at liberty to exercise my own discretion as to the security of the public funds in the absence of any specific instruction on that subject, believing that all that was necessary on my part was the production at the Government’s notice of the money, when required for he public service.

I beg leave further to state that the amount of public money in the possession of the bank at the time its accounts were examined, was owing to my being in the habit of receiving the cheques of the Naval officer and other individuals, and paying them into the bank according to the state of my account with that establishment, a practice which, if erroneous, was entirely unintentional on my part.

The circumstance of my having deposited some money for security in the hands of one or two principal Merchants arose from the alarm occasioned by the breaking open of the Commissariat Stores lately, and the robbery of a large sum of money therefore, although under the especial charge of a strong guard at the time; and as the money in question could at any time be drawn at the shortest notice, I considered it safer under their custody, than it would have been in my house, where there was no money vault whatever to secure it in, and where I had only one sentry over the office and at a considerable distance from the guard, by which he was furnished.

In order, however, to obviate the possibility of incurring a similar risk in the future, I beg leave to express my perfect readiness to neater into any arrangement for the security of the public money, which his Excellency the Governor may consider the best calculated to insure its perfect safety.
I have &c W Balcombe’

It appeared that Balcombe was not stealing but was profiting from the investment of Government funds, a practice not unusual, so he was reprimanded but not dismissed. [141]

Holding large sums of money in what was also his private home was a most unsatisfactory scenario but Balcombe could rightly claim that it was safer than to deposit cash into the purpose built banks. Later in the year Darling decided that that ‘a building commenced in Gov Brisbane’s time at Barrack Square not immediately required by the Garrison should be completed as offices for the Colonial Treasury, the Cash Dept of the Commissariat and the Auditor of Colonial Accounts ‘ and he wrote to advise Earl Bathurst of this on 20 July 1826.[142]

Bathurst in his reply to Darling on 29 September 1826, approved the measures adopted by the Governor. He also wrote

‘But I cannot close this dispatch without marking, with his Majesty’s strongest displeasure, the conduct of Mr Balcombe in risking the loss to the Publick of so large a sum, as that which the deposited with the Bank; and I am sorry that I must further observe that, notwithstanding Mr Balcombe alleges in his excuse that he had no other object in this transaction than the desire of placing the money entrusted in his charge in a more secure situation than was afforded by the unprotected state of his own residence, it is but too evident from your report of the case, that he was actuated by other far less unobjectionable motives. Bathurst.’ [143]

Later Bathurst add further comment, writing to Darling on 1 December 1826. He commented on the mismanagement of the Bank of NSW by the Directors who ‘had managed their concerns in a very unsafe and improper principles’. He suggested that Mr Lithgow be used from time to time to do a check that all debts by Officials, the Treasurer and a Naval Officer, unnamed who seemed to have handled big debts and payments through William, have been liquidated. William had apparently been letting Officials who collected public monies to hold onto the money, and apparently using it.

Bathurst then set out 9 instructions, including monies collected to be handed over to the Treasurer each week if near Sydney and each month if at a distance from Sydney, and the Treasurer should have a secure vault to store the monies in a fire proof and thief proof vault with three separate locks and keys separately to the Treasurer, the Auditor and the Colonial Secretary, and all three men to be there to open and close it to add or remove funds.[144] Both banks had to be patronised equally up to £5000 limit in each,

‘The other instructions were that all officers concerned with financial collection were to pay monies to the Colonial Treasurer on a set day each week, in country areas each month. A fireproof vault was to be built with three keys (one for the Treasurer; one for the Auditors; and one for the Colonial Secretary) and the vault was only to be opened in the presence of all three. The Colonial Treasurer was to keep an account at each of the two banks and all demands made on him over £5 were to be paid by bank draft. The Colonial Treasurer was to furnish accounts on the sixth day of each month giving the banking position. Any sums in excess of £10,000 were to be deposited in the vault and this reserve was only to be used by Governor’­s Warrant. Finally, a committee of five, to be appointed by the Governor, was to examine the contents of the vault, at least annually.’   [145]

Probably as a result of the banking controversy the Governor decided to issue Government notes only in five and ten pound amounts.

COLONIAL SECRETARY’S OFFICE, 1st SEPTEMBER 1826. HIS EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR has given Directions for the Issue of Government Notes, from the Commissariat, to the Amount of Ten Thousand Pounds Sterling. These Notes will be in equal Proportions of Five Pounds and Ten Pounds each, and will be convertible, on Demand, into Treasury Bills, at the same Rate as the British Coin. The COLONIAL TREASURER, and the DEPUTY COMMISSARY GENERAL, have received Instructions to make all Payments, until further Orders, in British Money, or the Government Notes as above, and in the Sterling Notes of the Colonial Banks, in equal Proportions; that is, One-half in the British Coin, or Government Notes, and One-half in the Notes of the Colonial Banks. By His Excellency’s Command, ALEXANDER M’LEAY[146]

(Despite all these new rules and regulations, on 25 September 1828 an audacious robbery took place at the Bank of Australia, thieves tunnelled through a sewerage drain into the vaults and a huge amount of money £14,000 was stolen from the bank. Despite handsome rewards no one came forward to assist the authorities, after all the general populace considered the Bank of Australia was the ‘toffs’ bank that had been robbed, the working folk were not going to help McArthur and his cronies to get their money back.[147])


More controversy erupted for the NSW governing body in late 1826 when Captain Rossi was implicated in slavery.

Apparently a Mr Kendrick had charged that Capt Rossi had got involved in salve trade in Mauritius and Governor Darling set up a Committee of four, including William Balcombe and Captain Piper to report. They found Kendrick, who Darling had known of when he was at Mauritius, was of a bad character and the allegations were refuted.[148]

Following all the banking controversy there was a settled period in Balcombe’s life and the newspaper reported he received good news from England.

‘Mr. Balcombe, our Treasurer, it is reported, has received letters from England of a most satisfactory nature. Some representations were made by the Governor to Lord Bathurst, shortly after the arrival here of His Excellency, and it was conjectured that these representations might prove the occasion of some uneasiness to the Treasurer. We are happy, however, to learn, that the conduct of Mr. Balcombe has been highly approved of, and that letters in a highly complimentary strain have reached him. Of this news we should indeed be just as glad as the Australian, who, no doubt, throws this as a kind of sop to the Treasurer; but as the paragraph in question, though we have not quoted the whole, contains an indirect insult to the Governor of the Colony, we feel it imperative upon us to enquire of the Australian, whether those ” letters”, said to be written ” in a highly complimentary strain,” came from Lord Bathurst, as his Readers are left to find it out- but should they be the emanations of Downing-street, we shall indeed rejoice just as much as the Australian, since we have often had occasion to speak well of Mr. Balcombe. But we can assert, with the greatest truth, that no Cousin ” no, not even a Brother-in-law, was ever intended by His Excellency to supplant the Treasurer.’ [149]


A robbery at the Balcombe’s house caused some excitement in late August 1827. The culprit was apprehended and charged.

CRIMINAL COURT.—-(Wednesday)    Thomas Sweetman stood arraigned on a charge of burglary. The indictment contained, two counts. The first count, laying the offence to be that of breaking and entering the dwelling house of William Balcombe with intent to steal; the second, introducing a charge; of larceny, in stealing two hats the property of the said William Balcombe.  The Acting Attorney-General, after stating the case, proceeded to call Ann Munn, who deposed that she is a married   woman, and occupies a house directly opposite that of Mr. Balcombe, (the prosecutor,) in O’Connell-street, Sydney — witness recollected the evening of Saturday, the 7th of July last, it was rather a dark evening; a lamp, however, which hung over Mr. Balcombe’s door-way, afforded sufficient light for those on the opposite side of the street, to distinguish persons entering on the premises. About half-past seven o’clock of the evening before mentioned, witness, whilst standing against the paling before her own house, which commands a view of the entrance to O’Connell-street, and of the prosecutor’s house, saw three men coming up, they made a stand-still before prosecutor’s house, and after a short consultation between them, one of the three men opened a small wicket and the prisoner, whose person witness felt certain she could swear to, and whom she saw in a stooping posture, with his hand for several minutes in exertion about the lock of the house-door, went in, the other two men remaining side; shortly after prisoner came out with two hats in his hand, which two hats he gave his two companions– the prisoner then returned into the house, but witness having by this time become con-firmed in her suspicious of the intention of the prisoner and his associates, went over to the prosecutor’s house, boldly walked into the passage and gave an alarm of the house being robbed. The prisoner on this, attempted to make off, but the witness by some active efforts on her part, and with the assistance of others, prevented his escape. The two other men had taken to their heels and escaped. Mr. Thomas BALCOMBE, resides with his father, in O’Connell street; on the evening of Saturday, the 7th of July last, recollected, having laid down on a sofa in the drawing-room he felt the hand of some person pass over his face : somewhat surprised at the circumstance, he got up, called out, ‘who’s there?’ No answer was returned, and witness, in directing his eye to the room-door, by a light which glimmered .in the passage, saw some strange person there; he was approaching the door, when an alarm was made, as stated by the last witness. A constable being procured, the prisoner was given into custody; nothing was found on his person, but it was discovered, that two hats had been unhung from a nail in the hall. The prisoner pleaded intoxication in excuse for his being found in the way described, but he denied the charge of robbery. The Judge explained very minutely the law of the case of burglary, and summed up the evidence at great length. Verdict, guilty. Remanded for sentence. ‘ [150]

Against Thomas Sweetman, for committing a burglary in  the dwelling-house of Wm. Balcombe Esq., in Sydney, judgment of death was also recorded.   [151]


Social events continued apace for the upper strata of society in the Colony with a Ball and Supper at the Baxters.

‘On the evening of Friday last, the ATTORNEY GENERAL, [Alexander Baxter] and his LADY, entertained a very large and distinguished Party at their residence in York Street. Cards of invitation had been issuing for a week previously. The company did-not begin to pour in before nine o’clock, when, as if by the assistance of the magical wand, the ball-room was in an instant filled with rank, beauty, and fashion. The rooms above were tastefully fitted up. Quadrilles were entered into with spirit, and the ” light fantastic toe” tripped it away most gaily. The Ladies’ dresses were neat, yet elegant. At the witching time of night, the Ladies were ushered by the Gentlemen into the supper room, where there was a sumptuous display of all that was substantial and inviting   to captivate the eye. The supper was well got up, and the wines were of the best and most varied description. About one, the ball- room was re-occupied by those Ladies and Gentlemen who felt disposed to prolong the enjoyment of the festive scene, whilst some of the Party began to retire, though a great portion were resolved on remaining so long as any of the Ladies honored them with their presence. Nothing could exceed the hilarity and satisfaction which the liberal and worthy Host manifested throughout the evening in witnessing the happiness of the splendid group by which he was surrounded, and to whose pleasure he was sedulously contributing. As for Mrs. BAXTER, this truly accomplished and fascinating Lady was incessant in her attentions to her Guests, having only danced twice during the evening, the whole of her time being occupied in attending to the comfort   and ease of her numerous and gratified   visitors, We might have noticed that Mr J. STEPHEN and Mrs. BAXTER opened the ball.

Amongst the vast assemblage were the Chief Justice, and Mrs. Forbes, sen; the Honourable Mr. M’Leay, Mrs. M’Leay, and Misses M’Leay; Mrs. Balcombe and Mrs. Abel ; Colonel Lindsay ; Colonel and Mrs. Shadforth, and Miss Shadforth ; Sir John Jamison ; Deputy Commissary General Laidley, and Mrs Laidley; Mr. and Mrs. John Blaxland, and Misses Blaxland ; Captain and Mrs. Raine; Mrs. and Miss Brooks; Dr. Dulhunty, and Miss Dulhunty; Captain Dumaresq, Major M’Pherson, Mr. Solicitor General Foster, Brigade Major Innes, Major D’Arcy, Dr. Douglass, Dr. Bland, Mr. She- riff Mackanness, Mr. Onslow, Mr John Stephen, Mr. Francis Stephen, Mr Jackson ; together with the Officers of the Garrison, and a number of other Ladies and Gentlemen.

The entire of the party did not retire till an early hour on Saturday morning.’   [152]


Mrs Balcombe and Mrs Abell were present but not William which suggests he was once again too ill to attend. He was known to have suffered from gout which in those days was a serious systemic disease, with periods of severe symptoms with intervals of relative peace. Joints can be destroyed, and adjacent deposits of gouty crystals and inflammation cause bony pain and even fractures due to the erosions which can be large, up to several centimeters. Serum uric acid is raised, and a large part of the problem comes from inadequate excretion of the uric acid. Kidney stones are frequent and can result in obstruction and kidney failure. Raised serum uric acid is an independent risk factor for heart disease, and recent studies have found an increased risk of death from cardio-vascular disease, especially heart attacks and myocardial infarction, of up to 30%. It can be difficult to sort out other factors which invariably occur, as well as alcohol and diuretic use in particular. He was probably your typical portly middle aged man who drank red wine and ate cheese and too much meat, all risks for gout and heart disease as well. [153]


The 1827 festive season saw a free man succumb to the temptation of stealing some wine.

‘WEDNESDAY. Thomas Kelly, a free subject, was charged with stealing a bottle of wine from his master. Joseph Rogers, a servant to Mr. Ferris, deposed, that he was sent to Mr. Balcombe with two dozen bottles of wine yesterday, which he counted to one of Mr. Balcombe‘s servants in the passage, and the prisoner was present at the time;’ the servant, however, after returning from taking a part of them up stairs, declared that one bottle was missing; on this the prisoner advised the servant to recount the   bottles he had taken up stairs, and during his absence, took a bottle out of a cupboard, which he placed among the others; on the servant’s return, the prisoner went and counted the bottles, and found the number to be right.

James Broderick, a servant to Mr. Balcombe, deposed, that Mr. Ferris’s servant brought two dozen of wine for his master which he counted in the hall, and found the number to be correct; defendant then   took. 14 bottles up-stairs, and returning for the remainder found there were but nine bottles ; the prisoner who had been present during the whole transaction, now advised witness to go up stairs again to count the bottles, the number of which he could not fail to find to be correct; witness did so, and on returning he heard a rattling among the bottles ; witness then proceeded to count them again, when he found the number to be correct. The prisoner was fully committed for trial.’ [154]

Dr Reid RN, was included in a list of Magistrates under Officers Army, Navy; William Balcombe was included under officials. Thus the two men would know each other from sitting on the magistrates bench. In only a few years the families would be irrevocably tied together when Reid’s daughter Emma married Balcombe’s son Alexander.[155]

Later there was an Authorisation for Colonial Treasurer Balcombe to pay from Public Money to Rev Wm Walker, Superintendent of the Female Orphan School, £769-17-8½, or 3079 Spanish dollars and 54 cents, to liquidate expenses for the quarter.[156]

Sydney was soon to be rocked by news of an attempted suicide by the well liked Captain Piper. ‘A very great sensation was created in the town of Sydney on Thursday afternoon, owing to an accident which happened outside the Heads, but which luckily did not prove serious.— We regret to say, that the owner of Point Piper fell over the side of his boat, and was in the most imminent danger of meeting a watery grave. Timely assistance was rendered and he was fortunately rescued. A large party had been invited by the hospitable gentleman, to meet at Point Piper on the above day. It has got into report that the accident was fatal-our making this mention of the event will correct misapprehensions. It is rumoured that Captain Piper is about to quit the appointment which he holds in the Colony.— Mr. J. T. Campbell is at present acting for him. We have heard that the appointment of Captain Piper to the office of Comptroller of Customs, at a salary of two thousand a year, has been for some time in the Colony-a circumstance with which our Naval Officer as never been made acquainted.’   [157]

The Australian reported that the government moved swiftly to replace Captain Piper. ‘Government Order’ of the fifth of April notifies, that his Excellency the Governor has been pleased to appoint John Thomas Campbell, Esqr. to act as Naval Officer, in the Room of John Piper, Esqr. who has, been suspended until the pleasure of the Right Hon. the Secretary, of State for the Colonies shall be known.” Thus then Captain Piper is out of office, without having resigned or without being shewn to be guilty of defalcation. Before it is ascertained whether he has misconducted himself in office, a Military Pen makes a dash at his name, and suspends him from the duties of his office, until the pleasure the Right Honourable the Secretary for the Colonies is known.’ [158]

More details appeared in subsequent newspaper reports The following has appeared in, one of our contemporaries, and is evidently a letter received from Sydney….

Captain Piper.–The circumstances attendant upon the removal of office upon this Gentleman, are singular and afflicting. He was aware, for some days before the Deficit in his accounts became known, that such existed. The amount was between twelve and thirteen thousand pounds. Had he communicated the fact to his friends, the money would have been, without difficulty, advanced for him. Mr. Wentworth would not have hesitated, to have paid it instantly, but Captain Piper withheld from every one the state of his accounts. On the morning preceeding the day when he was to settle them, he invited a few intimate friends to dinner at his beautiful seat, about five miles from Sydney down the harbour. In the evening he ordered his boat, stating that he was obliged to be absent for a short time upon some matter of public duty connected with the Light-house. He ordered his band of music to accompany him. There was a very strong breeze, and he carried his boat under sail between the Heads, where, while she was going with much velocity through the water, he suddenly threw himself overboard! One of the men instantly jumped after him, and succeeded in keeping him above water until the boat was pulled round, and the men drew them both on board. Captain Piper senseless, and the brave fellow who had thus nearly sacrificed his own life to save that of his master, nearly exhausted. They returned home immediately, and the scene which ensued when the above circumstances were made known to his afflicted, large, and interesting family, can better conceived than described. Previous to his departure in the boat in the boat, he had dispatched a letter to Mr. Balcombe, the Colonial Treasurer, which evidently shewed the inward perturbation, of his mind, if not the disordered state of his intellect. He therein communicated the defalcation which existed in his accounts, and his determination to destroy himself ; but he added, that he had taken effectual means to prevent his mortal remains being subjected to exposure before a Coroner’s inquest-evidently alluding to the means of death on which he had determined. Ten thousand pounds of the deficit have been paid, and it is understood that the remainder will be forthcoming without delay, and that a large property will yet remain. This event has been witnessed by the whole Australian Public with the deepest regret, for no man was more generally beloved, by all classes, than the unfortunate, but generous Captain Piper.’ [159]

So it looks as though Piper attempted to take his own life following his dismissal for the missing £12,000 in the Naval Officers Fund. He was embroiled in the same scandal as Balcombe. However it was likely that Balcombe was using that money for his own use, even if Piper was culpable by giving consent to the Balcombe malfeasance.[160] For a man so used to living such a lavish lifestyle it would have been totally devastating to Piper to be dismissed… it was poor Piper who paid the price for the misappropriation. This incident happened in April 1827. One can only speculate what effect this had on William Balcombe.

The effect on Piper’s finances was also devastating. ‘Captain Piper’s property was sold by Mr. Paul, at the following rates: The farm at South Creek, to Mr. John Connor, for £280; the one at the Cowpastures, consisting of 800 acres, to Mr. Chisholm, for £720; Vaucluse, to Mr. Wentworth, for £1500 ; the house next to Mr. Garling’s, to Mr. Bodenham, for £2025, 30 shares in the Australian Agricultural Company, to Mr. Balcombe, for £400. A horse, Nabob, 8 years, Mr. Balcomb, £38..[161]

The Captain retired to Bathurst and with the assistance of his family, particularly his wife, took up farming. Their Piper’s Cheese became famous. [162]An ‘annual visitor to Bathurst’ wrote to the Sydney Gazette to advise

‘I was very happy, Mr. Editor, to observe the very friendly disposition that prevails among the respectable inhabitants at Bathurst; the worthy Captain Piper and his very amiable family are most justly respected and appreciated by all who have the honour of their acquaintance, and who are sensible of the kindness and hospitality that is shewn to visitors at Alloway Bank; indeed Captain Piper’s family area great acquisition to society at Bathurst, and all the families there deserve great praise for the harmony and good will that prevails among them, and which they exercise towards one another in the most friendly manner.’ [163]

In 1831 the ‘good Captain’ was in Sydney and attended a dinner where he was received with universal acclaim. A subsequent visit to a Sydney Theatre in 1835 saw him ‘warmly applauded’ by the audience and at an 1837 meeting of the United Australians, ‘the health of Captain Piper was drank with the most enthusiastic cheering’. [164]He died in 1861, his son had predeceased him in year before.[165] A headstone in Bathurst has John Piper Senior’s death as being 8 June 1861.[166]


In May 1827 the newspaper advised that ‘Mr. Balcombe, our Treasurer, it is reported, has received letters from England of a most satisfactory nature. Some representations were made by the Governor to Lord Bathurst, shortly after the arrival here of His Excellency, and it was conjectured that these representations might prove the occasion of some uneasiness to the Treasurer. We are happy, however, to learn, that the conduct of Mr. Balcombe has been highly approved of, and that letters in a highly complimentary strain have reached him. Of this news we should indeed be just as glad as the Australian, who, no doubt, throws this as a kind of sop to the Treasurer; but as the paragraph in question, though we have not quoted the whole, contains an indirect insult to the Governor of the Colony, we feel it imperative upon us to enquire of the Australian, whether those ” letters”, said to be written ” in a highly complimentary strain,” came from Lord Bathurst, as his Readers are left to find it out- but should they be the emanations of Downing-street, we shall indeed rejoice just as much as the Australian, since we have often had occasion to speak well of Mr. Balcombe. But we can assert, with the greatest truth, that no Cousin ” no, not even a Brother-in-law, was ever intended by His Excellency to supplant the Treasurer.’ [167]

In August 1827 ‘Thomas Sweet man was indicted for a burglary and robbery in the house of William Balcombe Esq. in O’Connel street, Sydney, on the 8th of July last.-Guilty. Remanded. ‘ and a week or so later ‘MONDAY, AUGUST 27, 1827, The following prisoners, convicted during  the recent Sessions, were this morning placed at the bar, and received sentences” Thomas Sweetman, for a burglary and robbery in the dwelling-house of William Balcombe Esq. of Sydney. Death recorded.[168]

What harsh punishments for the crimes. but they were the sad realities of the times.


Our Readers may recollect the celebrated  actions brought against the Naval Officer, and the Colonial Treasurer, in the year 1825, relative to the duties on imported spirits and tobacco. It will be remembered also, that a special case, on admissions, was submitted to the Court, the result of which was ” postea for the defendant.” The question of costs in those actions, however, were, at that time,  left open, and remained undecided until Friday last, when it was argued, before the Chief Justice, by Messrs. W. H. Moore, and W. Wentworth. On the part of the defendants, it was contended, by Mr. Moore that the actions brought by Messrs. Campbell, T. H. James, and Raine and Ramsey, against the Colonial Treasurer, were mere actions for money had and received, against Mr. Balcombe in his private capacity, and that by Messrs. Raine and Ramsey against the Naval Officer, Captain Piper, as an action of trover, in the same way; that consequently, according to the general rule when the plaintiffs would have recovered costs, had they succeeded, the defendants were entitled to their costs. On the other side, it was contended by Mr. Wentworth, that the actions being brought against Public Officers, were to be     considered as against the King, who neither pays nor receives costs. The Court would collect from the record of the special case which was submitted to them, the capacity of the defendants, and the capacity in which they were sued ; the one as a Naval Officer, the other as Colonial Treasurer; therefore, according to the dictum of Lord Mansfield, that a Government Officer was not liable in his private capacity, if the plaintiffs had succeeded in this case, a motion in arrest of judgment would have been available; they could have recovered nothing, and would, therefore, not have been entitled to costs ; from which he argued, that the defendants being, defacto, the representatives of the Crown, could not be entitled to demand that which they were not obliged to pay, upon the recognized principle that the King neither takes nor receives costs.

The Chief Justice, in disposing of the question, observed, that he regretted being under the necessity of deciding on it alone, from the circumstance of Mr. Justice STEPHEN   having been engaged as Counsel in some of the causes when at the Bar, and who consequently declined taking any part in the discussion. Very little was to be found in   the books upon the subject of costs, beyond the mere general principle that the King neither pays nor receives costs, the only question, as His Honor conceived, for consideration was, whether the Crown was substantially concerned in those actions. From the special case which was laid before the Court, a full development of the whole transaction took place, when it appeared that Mr. Balcombe was Colonial Treasurer, and Captain Piper, Naval Officer, and that the actions were to recover back certain monies, said to be unlawfully paid into the hands of the former Gentleman for duties, and from the latter a quantity of property detained by him in the bonded store. Now, what were these duties ? They were Crown duties. The actions were for money received, and goods detained on the part of the Crown. It was then admitted, on the record, that the Crown was substantially the defendant, and without going into any niceties of distinction, His HONOR thought, that upon the broad principle laid down in the books, when the Crown is substantially concerned, that it neither pays nor receives costs, the plaintiff in these actions could not have recovered costs had they succeeded, and consequently, they were not themselves liable to the defendant.’ [169]

The favourable report allowed Balcombe to return to his duties on the Bench.

‘Jacob Carter, free, appeared to answer to a summons at the instance of Mr. S Lord, for harbouring Emma Vassie, an assigned female servant belonging to him, and Emma Vassie, for being a runaway. It appeared in evidence, that Carter had formerly been deponent’s watchman, when he was in the habit of giving spirits to the female prisoner at the bar; that since defendant had been discharged from deponent’s service, he had been in the habit of coming about his premises contrary to his desire; that Emma went off last Sunday and did not return till yesterday, during which period deponent has every reason to believe she has been harboured by the defendant. Evidence was here produced to prove that Emma was seen in company with Jacob, after which Mr. Balcombe enquired what she had to say for herself. No answer. The enquiry was repeated, but this little Eve (naughty cutty) unlike almost every other woman, was unwilling to exercise the prerogative of a long tongue, so she was sentenced two months to the factory, while Jacob was ordered to pay the mitigated fine of five dollars, and one dollar for the day the prisoner had been with him. ‘ [170]


In late 827 a major controversy occurred when Governor Darling was incensed at what he considered to be ‘a public insult‘ to him, when absent with ill health, by Mr Wentworth, who gave a speech at the Turf Club, when former Governor Brisbane’s Cup was presented. The speech was reported in the Papers, who tended to be critical of Governor Darling.

‘DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE. TURF CLUB DINNER. AT an early hour on Friday evening, Mr. Cummins’s Hotel became the arena for discussing a most important subject in the eyes of every Englishman, viz. a good   dinner. A numerous assemblage of naval, military, civil, and law officers, with many private gentlemen, bore a spirited part in the said discussion. W.. C. Wentworth   Esq. was unanimously requested to accept the chair; and a more competent chairman could not have been selected. Among the guests were Colonel Shadford, who, with the politeness for which he has already distinguished himself, brought the fine band of his regiment to promote the hilarity of the evening. The cloth being removed, and some bottles of Champagne having gone the way of all the earth, the following toasts were given with three times three throughout:— The King-Air-” God save the King.” The Lord High Admiral-” Rule Britannia.” The Army-” George the Fourth’s grand March.”

The Chairman then rose to propose a toast which he said he was certain would be drunk with heartfelt. satisfaction by all present. To’ those who had been acquainted with the late Governor during his residence among us, it would be unnecessary to enumerate the many acts by which he became in a manner the father of Australia-one of the greatest and most efficient of our benefactors;-but to those who were not in the Colony during his Administration, a few words upon the present occasion might be necessary. -Sir Thomas Brisbane was the man (continued Mr. Wentworth with an animation that shewed he felt what he spoke) who mixed among the people, who came into our views, was present at our dinners, assemblies,, and meetings, who examined into our wants, and when the our Exchequer failed, drew his private purse-strings to supply the deficiency. It was this amiable and excellent man’ who fondly cherished every infantile at tempt at advancement which we made, not only by his countenance and interest, but also helped them on to maturity by private as well as public pecuniary aids. He was the earliest political friend of which the Colony. had to boast; to him this Institution owes its thanks in a most peculiar manner, for the generous way in which he has redeemed his pledge to it. The Race Cup of Sir Thomas Brisbane he was sure would be preserved as a grateful memento of the worthy giver, and while recollection would hold, he hoped that the public and private. virtues of that excellent man would never be forgotten. Before the present company should meet again upon the present occasion, a second pledge of his kind feeling toward our interests would, in all probability have reached the Colony. Mr. W. concluded by proposing ‘” The health of Sir Thomas Brisbane !” It was drunk with the most unbounded enthusiasm, the shouts of applause lasting for several-minutes. …..

After the cloth was removed, several loyal and patriotic toasts were drunk. The King was of course first given, followed by the National Air — next , the Army, followed by the Duke of York’s New March — afterwards, the Duke of Clarence and the Navy, with Rule Britannia — and then the health of the “earliest and best patron of the Turf Club, Sir. Thomas Brisbane. The Chairman prefaced this toast, with some appropriate remarks. “He was satisfied that the company would drink the toast with that enthusiasm which it   merited, when they recollected that Sir Thomas Brisbane had been the great supporter of their Club, that he had come amongst them, appeared on their course, dined with them,   and aided them in the hour of need with funds drawn from his own private purse.               His health was indeed drank with enthusiasm. The room was filled with plaudits and acclamations which lasted some minutes. The band immediately after struck up “Auld Lang Syne.” The Governor and the Colony, with three times three, was then proposed and drank; and other appropriate toasts were given in the course of the evening. The company sat to a late hour, and then departed, highly gratified at the opportunity afforded them of manifesting their esteem for their late Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane. The entertainment afforded by Mr. Cummins was highly creditable’.  [171]        

A toast was proposed to ‘The health of the Chairman, as a principal promoter of the objects of this Society by his excellent breed of Horses.’ The newspaper then reported ‘Several toasts of less importance were then given.’ [172]This included Governor Darling who was incensed at what he considered to be ‘a public insult’ to him, writing to Viscount Goderich, 14 December 1827, he noted that ‘when the toast to him was proposed, instead of the band playing ‘Australian March’, Dr Wardell got them to play ‘Over the Hill and Far Away’. [173]

William Balcombe was one of the only six who supported the Governor and they subsequently withdrew their membership of the Turf Club… and retained the Governor’s confidence and friendship. [174]

Darling wrote to the Turf Club resigning as Patron and a Member. The Meeting that considered his resignation was arranged by Dr Wardell (who had an impending Supreme Court Case involving the Governor) and was stacked with the supporters of Wentworth who, in a resolution, exonerated Wentworth. William Balcombe was one of the only six who supported the Governor and they subsequently withdrew their membership of the Club.

A T a GENERAL. MEETING of the TURF CLUB, held at the Sydney Hotel, on Saturday, the 1st December, 1827, It was Resolved;. 1st. That, in consequence of certain public Statements made relative to the late Dinner given by the Turf Club, in Commemoration of Sir Thomas Brisbane, as injurious to the Club generally, as to certain Individuals belonging thereto; an immediate Enquiry be instituted into the truth of those Statements, and the nature of the Circumstances connected with them. 2d. Mr. Wentworth, having been asked by the Club, whether in his Speech, he meant either directly or indirectly, by drawing invidious Parallels, or by any other Means, to offer any insult to General Darling, Patron of the Club, Mr. Wentworth stated in reply, that he did not draw any parallel, or offer any Insult to His Excellency; and that the published Report of his Speech, contained in the Monitor Newspaper, is erroneous and unfair; which Statement is confirmed by the general Impression of the Members who were present.. The Club having heard the Explanations and Statements of several Members, in regard to the Air which was played by the Band, upon occasion of the Governor‘s Health, being given, come to the Conclusion, that it was ordered irregularly, but certainly without any intention of the Parties by whom it was suggested and proposed, to offer any personal Offence to His Excellency, and that the Air in question was played without the sanction of the Stewards, or the knowledge of the Club generally. That a Copy of these proceedings be transmitted to the Governor, and be also published in each of the News papers. JOHN MACKANESS, Chairman.’ [175]

Of those who supported Wentworth, the Governor then suspended Mr W H Moore, the Crown Solicitor and acting Attorney General, dismissed his brother, Mr C D Moore, Secretary of the Turf Club, (who had forwarded the resolution) from his position as Assistant Clerk of the Supreme Court; and decreed that Mr Mackaness, who had chaired the dinner, not be reappointed as Sheriff. Darling commented to Goderich that ‘Your Lordship will perceive there is not a Man of Character or consequence amongst them’. [176]




I have been, for some time back, noticing with a watchful eye, the motions of the Turf Club, and I cannot but participate in the general feeling of disgust which at present pervades the public mind, at the cowardly attack made upon the Governor by one of its Members. But ” pulchrum est accuari ab accusandis,'” and to a certain extent His Excellency has been honoured, by a man who, if we are to judge of him from his writings, has neither had virtue, nor   the good of the public at heart for one moment. The offensive tune suggested by Dr. Wardell will not easily be forgotten by the intelligent inhabitant-, of Australia, and the sneaking, shuffling, dastardly measures which have been resorted to, in order to give a plausible colour to the base transaction, will remain as an eternal stigma upon the character of the infamous renegade who could conceive a deed so vile. If the Members of the Turf Club have any pretensions to that honour which I, in common with many others have been willing to allow them, they will immediately exclude from their Body the two Members who have sinned against truth and the people, or they will follow the honorable example set them by Colonel Mills, and leave the Club altogether, for,

Omne enemi vitium tanto conspeetius in, se crimen habet, quanto major quipeccat habetur.'”

Wherefore I would have the two obnoxious individuals expelled from the Club altogether. The Turf Club should consist entirely of gentlemen, and no doubt it was under the impression that this was the case, that His EXCELLENCY became its Patron. When, however, he discovered that it contained men destitute not only of good breeding, but the strenuous instigator of discord, with that manly dignity which so eminently characterises the GOVERNOR, he at once resolved to give no farther countenance to a Body that contained individuals of such a dangerous character. No man, let his situation in life be what it may, will associate with those who are willing coolly, deliberately, and unprovokedly to insult him. He who would submit to this is unworthy of the name of man; how much more necessary was it, therefore, that the Head of the Government should discountenance conduct of this kind. With the exception of Messrs. Wardell and Wentworth, particularly the former, I respect the Members of the Turf Club, but they ought to take the advice which you gave them, namely, either to expel the offenders, or dissolve the Club, and frame another, to their exclusion. Juggling will not go down with the people, and dastardly apologies will not answer. The people to a man, rejoice that their Governor acted with so much spirit, but no one with greater sincerity than.

Your obedient Servant, CO. ‘ [177]

The newspapers of the day reported that Balcombe and his son were among those who opposed Wentworth and had retired from this expiring Institution: ‘The Hon. Mr. M’Leay, Colonel Lindesay, the Attorney General, the Colonial Treasurer, the Deputy Commissary General, Mr. Balcombe, junior, Mr. E Aspinalll, Dr. Bland, Dr. Douglass, Mr. Garling, Mr. Goodsir, Mr. Hindson, Sir John Jamison, Mr A Innes, Mr. G. Innes, Mr. A.K M’Kenzie, Mr. A. M’Leod, Colonel Mills, Mr. T. Raine, Mr. John Stephen, Mr. Francis Stephen, Mr. T. Walker, Mr. G. D. Brown, Mr. J. T. Campbell, Mr. Wm. Cox, jun. Mr. M’Vitie, Mr. Solicitor Norton, the Surveyor General, &c. &c. &c.

The following Gentlemen are not in the Colony : Colonel Dumaresq, Mr. Richard Aspinall, Mr. Gregory Blaxland, Mr.T. B. Gibbs, Mr. Kirkwood, Mr. Radford, and Mr. W. Walker. ‘ [178]


The new Attorney General, AM Baxter Esq arrived in the Colony in 1827 on board the Marquis of Hastings. [179]

He and his wife joined the social entertainment calendar by hosting a Ball in September 1827.

Ball and Supper On the evening of Friday last, the ATTORNEY GENERAL, [Alexander Baxter] and his LADY, entertained a very large and distinguished Party at their residence in York Street. Cards of invitation had been issuing for a week previously. The company did-not begin to pour in before nine o’clock, when, as if by the assistance of the magical wand, the ball-room was in an instant filled with rank, beauty, and fashion. The rooms above were tastefully fitted up. Quadrilles were entered into with spirit, and the “light fantastic toe” tripped it away most gaily. The Ladies’ dresses were neat, yet elegant. At the witching time of night, the Ladies were ushered by the Gentlemen into the supper room, where there was a sumptuous display of all that was substantial and inviting to captivate the eye. The supper was well got up, and the wines were of the best and most varied description. About one, the ball-room was re-occupied by those Ladies and Gentlemen who felt disposed to prolong the enjoyment of the festive scene, whilst some of the Party began to retire, though a great portion were resolved on remaining so long as any of the Ladies honored them with their presence. Nothing could exceed the hilarity and satisfaction which the liberal and worthy Host manifested throughout the evening in witnessing the happiness of the splendid group by which he was surrounded, and to whose pleasure he was sedulously contributing. As for Mrs. BAXTER, this truly accomplished and fascinating Lady was incessant in her attentions to her Guests, having only danced twice during the evening, the whole of her time being occupied in attending to the comfort and ease of her numerous and gratified visitors. We might have noticed that Mr J. STEPHEN and Mrs. BAXTER opened the ball.

Amongst the vast assemblage were the Chief Justice, and Mrs. Forbes, sen; the Honourable Mr. M’Leay, Mrs. M’Leay, and Misses M’Leay; Mrs. Balcombe and Mrs. Abel; Colonel Lindsay ; Colonel and Mrs. Shadforth, and Miss Shadforth ; Sir John Jamison ; Deputy Commissary General Laidley, and Mrs Laidley; Mr. and Mrs. John Blaxland, and Misses Blaxland; Captain and Mrs. Raine; Mrs. and Miss Brooks; Dr. Dulhunty, and Miss Dulhunty; Captain Dumaresq, Major McPherson, Mr. Solicitor General Foster, Brigade Major Innes, Major D’Arcy, Dr. Douglass, Dr. Bland, Mr. Sheriff Mackanness, Mr. Onslow, Mr John Stephen, Mr. Francis Stephen, Mr Jackson; together with the Officers of the Garrison, and a number of other Ladies and Gentlemen.

The entire of the party did not retire till an early hour on Saturday morning.’ [180]

This appears to be the first social occasion where Jane and Betsy had been guest but William did not appear. Was this the first public indication that ill health was becoming an issue for him?

By October Governor Darling had to appoint Mr Foster as Solicitor General because of ‘Mr Baxter’s incapacity’ and ‘his total inexperience as a lawyer. He is unable to speak, that is to address the Court or Jury, and it appears never had a brief in his life before his arrival here ‘and complaints were made that ‘Mr Baxter, a person altogether unqualified for the important situation he is intended to fill, without legal knowledge and without experience; totally unable to move but under direction of others, he is glad of assistance from anyone who will give it.’ In another letter, ‘Mr Baxter, a person altogether unqualified for the important situation he is intended to fill, without legal knowledge and without experience; totally unable to move but under direction of others, he is glad of assistance from anyone who will give it.’ [181]

It was apparent that ‘The Attorney General cannot deliver himself and Mr Foster is by no means capable of contending against Mr Wentworth and Dr Wardell who keep the Court and the Bar by their effrontery and talent equally in subjection’. [182]

William Balcombe was listed in the Stewards for the Agricultural and Horticultural Society in the Sydney Gazette of 19 March 1828. So when did he rejoin the Agricultural Society from which he had resigned some years before, or had he just resigned for the specific position he had held?

In May 1828 several landholders wrote to the Governor asking for some relief from the financial pressure they were under. The petition lists 25 people, including Wm Balcombe, H & Jas Macarthur, Samuel Marsden, Edward Redmond, noting they and other ‘respectable landed proprietors, on account of lands purchased from the Crown during the administration of Sir Thomas Brisbane, will in August owe to the Government the large amount of forty thousand pounds.’ They noted that when they purchased the land they were getting high prices in England for wool and timber such that’ the most circumspect were induced to indulge sanguine expectations of a continued advantageous return and the annually increasing proceeds of our estates induced us to acquiesce in the high value of five shillings per acre affixed as the price of lands then sold. On this price, ten pounds per cent was immediately paid to the Government.’ If things had continued they would have been able to meet their payments but there was a big downturn in England and the price for timber barely met expenses and wool was down at least 50%. In addition due to drought crops had failed and livestock was in poor condition with lack of pasture.

‘Under the pressure of so many difficulties, we appeal with confidence to your Excellency for relief. ‘They tactfully expressed confidence in the governor’s consideration, but also added that if the Government’s situation did not permit relief they could get their credit extended.

Governor Darling’s reply was also dated 28 May. While regretting the disappointment they had experienced in sale of produce he wrote of the problems that would occur if the monies weren’t received as they were necessary to meet the public expenses of the Colony – ‘the total failure of this expectation must therefore embarrass the Government in no inconsiderable degree.’ He advised he could not alter conditions set down by Governor Brisbane, but ‘would instruct the Collector of Revenue to accept payments by three half yearly installments of equal amount, you paying the Colonial interest of the time when each installment becomes due.’ [183]

Governor Darling also wrote to Huskisson referring to various land grants to different people in the Colony, for example the Chief Justice and the Colonial Secretary. William Balcombe was also on the list for a town allotment in Sydney of 8 to 10 acres for ‘Gentlemen in the Service of the Govt for the purpose of enabling them to provide themselves with a residence and have the benefit of a garden. ‘ A standard Form of Deed of Grant is given, with requirements to erect ‘a villa of residence ‘worth one thousand pounds within 3 years, and annual quit rent of eight shillings for 20 years (or a lump sum). [184]

The earlier land grants purchased by the Balcombe family still had to be fully paid for. ‘The letters obtained from the NSW State Records, included one from the Internal Revenue Office 10 May 1831, a reply probably to William Jun with a letter 30 April asking’ what portion of the purchase money is still owing on the 4000 acres…… purchased by the late Wm Balcombe under the original regulations and under the regulations of 23 October 1828. ‘There is reference to Wm Moore the Executor (same one mentioned in the audit letters) who replied verbally to a request of 18 March 1830 for payments ‘that the executors had no funds to pay it. ‘Under the original regulations the 4000 acres land purchase was at 5/- per acre with a 10% deposit of £100 paid, which with interest at 8% from 21 May 1828 on amount owing, and Quit rent at 2/- per acre from the same date, gave a total owing of £1098.17.00. Under the new regulations, land value was 1/8 per acre, which with the £100 deposit and interest still at 8% and quit rent 2 pence per acre only meant £369.7.10 owing.’

On 26 March 1828 Mr. Balcombe the treasurer and other public servants were granted a few acres of land for the purpose of providing themselves with a residence and having benefit of a garden. This land was at Woolloomooloo Cove but the family members were unable to benefit from it as Balcombe died before the grant was finalised.[185]

The first Colonial Treasurer of NSW, William Balcombe died on 19 March 1829 after a long illness.


HIS EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR announces, with much regret the Decease of WILLIAM BALCOMBE, Esq the late Colonial Treasurer, which took Place at his House, in O’Connell-street, a little before 12 o’clock last Night.

The Funeral will move from Mr. BALCOMBES late Residence at 4o’Clock in the Afternoon of Monday next, the 23d Instant, when His EXCELLENCY requests that all the Civil Officers of the Government will attend.

By His Excellency’s Command,



‘At his residence in O’Connel-street, on Thursday evening last, WILLIAM BALCOMBE, Esq. Colonial Treasurer, after a severe and protracted affliction.      

NOTICE.-The Funeral of the late Colonial Treasurer, William Balcombe, Esq. will take place on Monday next. The Procession will move from the late Residence of the Deceased, in O’Connel-street. The Friends of the Deceased, and Gentlemen of the Colony, are requested to attend on this melancholy Occasion. ‘ [187]   

Governor Darling wrote from Government House to advise Sir George Murray of Balcombe’s death.

‘I have the painful duty to report the death of Mr Balcombe the Treasurer which took place last night. Mr Balcombe had long been subject to severe attacks of Gout, which occasionally confined him for several weeks at a time to his bed.

His constitution at length became much impaired, and for the last three years he had been a complete invalid. About 4 months since, he was attacked with dysentery, a disease which his exhausted Constitution was unequal to resist, and he continued to decline gradually until last night, the period of his dissolution.

I regret to add that Mr Balcombe has left a large family in very distressed circumstances. His widow and daughter will suffer severely, as they are without any means of support; for although Mr Balcombe possessed some land, he has died, I fear much in debt, and his land and stock are not in a state at present to make any return.

There are also three sons, young men, who must provide for themselves, and, with industry and the assistance of their friends, can find little difficulty in doing so.’

He then mentions that he is appointing Mr Wm Dumaresq, Director of Public Works, to act as Treasurer until he hears from Sir George.[188]

The Sydney Gazette of 26 March 1829 reported on the funeral.

‘The late William Balcombe Esq – The funeral of this respected gentleman took place on the evening of Monday last, and was attended by His Excellency the GOVERNOR, the Hon, the Colonial Secretary, the Judges of the Supreme Court, the Civil Officers resident in Sydney, several of the Military Officers of the Garrison, and a number of private friends of the deceased. Mr. BALCOMBE had seen a considerable deal of public life. He resided at St. Helena during the period of Napoleon Buonaparte’s exile to that island, and his family circle at -“The Briars,” as his residence was designated, was a frequent resort of the ex-Emperor, and beguiled him of many of those restless moments by which he was afflicted in his captivity. It is also stated, upon good authority, that Mr. Balcombe once indignantly spurned an offer of an immense sum, made to him by Buonaparte, to aid him in a projected escape from St. Helena. The character of Mr. BALCOMBE in this Colony was sufficiently known. Perhaps no gentleman, holding a public situation, has ever kept clearer of parties or politics (in the acceptation of the term in this Colony), and there are few, we feel assured, whose memory will he more generally respected.’

His burial place was the Devonshire Street Cemetery (also called Sandhills Cemetery) on 23 March 1829, grave site DS 274 C of E [189] although this was not to be his final resting place. In 1901 the Devonshire Street Cemetery cemetery was closed (to make way for Central Railway station) and Balcombe’s remains along with all others were moved by steam tram ballast wagons to Botany. There was no trace of stone or marking so his specific grave site was unidentified. The new site was a long trench in which all remains were laid and any headstones available were set up. So now the headstone for WILLIAM BALCOMBEE (sic) is located as grave number 39(1)S in the Pioneer section of the Botany cemetery with the spelling if BALCOMBEE on both sides.[190]

Even in death William Balcombe was involved with some politics. He had been one of the fourteen signatories requesting that the Executive Council have mercy on Jane New who had been sentenced to death for stealing a bolt of printed French silk. The other signatories were John Stephen Jun, George Bunn, John S Jackson, Thomas Macvitie, Don Macleod, AB Spark, Ellis Scott, Alexander Berry, Edward Aspinall, Thomas Raine, George T Savage and WH Moors. John Stephen contacted the Colonial Secretary McLeay five days after the escape of Jane New. ‘ I should have passed over as idle tales the rumours which are afloat had you not indicated towards me at Balcombe’s funeral (on 23 March 1829) that there really did exist some cause for displeasure.’ [191]

A few weeks after he died, bills had to be paid.ESTATE OF -W. BALCOMBE, ESQ DECEASED. ALL ACCOUNTS in any way connected with this Estate, are required to be forwarded without delay, to the Office of Messrs Moore, Solicitors,’ George-street Sydney. ‘ [192]

After William Balcombe’s death his widow Jane petitioned for a pension, with a letter sent on 17 July 1829. She mentioned their heavy losses from St Helena days,[193] no doubt a result of the swiftness of their leaving the island and then being unable to access any funds from subsequent sale of their home and business. In addition their several years in England had been a financial burden as William had had no employment then.

‘To His Excellency Lt General Ralph Darling, Capt General and Governor in Chief of NSW etc, etc,

Sheweth that your Memorialist is the widow of the late William Balcombe Esq. who departed this life on the 20th day of March last.

That her late husband obtained the appointment of Colonial Treasurer in this Colony from Earl Bathurst, the then Sec of State for the Colonies, as a Compensation in part for very heavy pecuniary losses, which he had sustained in the Government Service at the Island of St Helena, and that your Memorialist lived only to fill the Office fro the space of 5 years.

That, at the time of Mr Balcombe’s decease from the short period he enjoyed the appointment, his Widow and family find themselves in a situation perfectly destitute of the means of support, the whole of his property, which consisted principally of live stock, having been appropriated to the payment of his Creditors at a very considerable loss on the purchase money of them, owing to the late unprecedented depreciation thereof.

That your Memorialist finds herself, at an advanced age, totally unprovided for with a large family, some members of which from unfortunate circumstances, are dependant on her without any means of support.

Your Memorialist respectfully begs leave to call Your Excellency’s attention to the propriety of her being allowed, as the Widow of an old public officer, such pension as to your Excellency, under the painful circumstances detailed in this Memorial, shall seem fit.

And Memorialist will ever pray, Jane Balcombe ‘

On 28 July 1829 the Executive Council met, including the Governor, The Venerable the Archdeacon; The Honourable the Colonial Secretary; The Honourable Col P Lindsay and they agreed with Governor’s recommendation of a pension of the thirty pounds per quarter, or ten pounds per month.

‘His Excellency the Governor then laid before the Council a letter from Mrs Balcombe widow of the late Colonial Treasurer requesting, in consequence of the unfortunate state of affairs in which she and the family have been involved by his death, that his Excellency would be pleased to recommend her to the Home Government for a Pension according to the situation Mr Balcombe filled; and in the meantime, as she was perfectly without resources that a quarterly allowance be made to her.

The Council recommended that Mrs Balcombe’s application be referred to H M Government, and, in the mean time, in consideration of the state of utter destitution of herself and family, that she be allowed a quarterly advance of thirty pounds which, though quite inadequate to the exigencies of the case, is all that the Council feel, under the circumstances, at liberty to propose.

E Deas Thomson, Clerk of Council ‘

A few days later, on 29 July 1829, Governor Darling wrote to Sir George Murray in England advising of this quarterly allowance.

‘Sir, I have the honor to transmit for your consideration the enclosed copy of a Memorial from Mrs Balcombe widow of the late Treasurer, praying to be allowed a Pension on account of her husband’s services.

In consequence of the embarrassed state of Mr Balcombe’s circumstances, I brought the subject under the consideration of the Executive Council, and I do myself the honor to transmit for your information an Extract from the Minute of the Proceedings in the case, and to acquaint you, that, in consequence of “the state of utter destitution”, in which Mrs Balcombe and her Daughter have been left, I have, with the advice of the Council, authorized a Quarterly Allowance of thirty pounds being made to her, until I am honored with your orders on the subject.

&c Ra D

PS It may be proper to add that Mr Balcombe left 3 sons unprovided for. I have lately given to the eldest, who is an agriculturalist, a grant of 2 square miles of land. The second son is employed as a Clerk in the Commissariat and the youngest as a Clerk in the office of the Supreme Court RD’

The request was duly sent back to England and it was seven months before the response from Sir George Murray was considered. It was not good news for Jane Balcombe and her family. Murray wrote to Darling from Downing Street on 24 February 1830.

‘Sir, I have received your letter of the 29 July 1829 last, with a Memorial from Mrs Balcombe widow of the late Colonial Treasurer of NSW praying to be allowed a Pension on account of her late husband’s services, and you report that, in consideration of the state of utter destitution in which Mrs Balcombe and her daughter have been left, you have with the advice of the Council, authorized a quarterly allowance of thirty pounds to be made to her.

It had been my painful duty in several instances to decline to provide for the families of deceased Civil Servants, and I am sorry to add that I see nothing in the case of Mrs Balcombe to justify my giving a Pension to her, which may not be urged in every other case of distress which has been brought under the notice of H M Government. I have, therefore, no alternative but to act according to the Rule, which has been adopted in all other instances, and which I regret to state will preclude my continuing to Mrs Balcombe for any period subsequent to the date of which this dispatch may arrive in the Colony, the quarterly allowance which you have permitted her to receive.

I am &c G Murray’ [194]

This letter from George Murray cutting off their pension would have been a real blow for Jane and her daughter and grand-daughter in particular. William had left his family facing large debts. They lost their home and their position in Society as they would be unable to join in the round of social engagements in the ever changing society that was New South Wales. However perhaps it was the impetus needed to focus the attention of the three boys into becoming hard workers and forging a future for themselves and their parent and sibling in the colony.

By the time of William Balcombe’s death in 1829, ‘an agreeable society had been then formed in Sydney.’ Many convicts had become free, they had acquired property and become heads of families. The ‘whole free community became an equal and united people.’ People who had been transported as convicts were not allowed into the upper circle of society and the term ‘pure merino’ came to mean a class of people who had no connection to former convicts, they were considered the topmost round in the social ladder… it was not acceptable to have a convict in your family tree, however distant the branch![195]

But if convicts had been able to work hard and acquire property there was no reason why the Balcombe family could not do the same. For Jane and her family their status as “pure merinos” was already acceptable but their lack of money was a major problem….. how did they face the crisis?




[2] AGL Shaw, The story of Australia, London, Faber and Faber, 1955

[3] Geoffrey Blainey, A land half won, Melbourne, MacMillan, 1980

[4] Ronald Laidlaw, , Discovering Australian History to 1900, Melbourne, Edward Arnold, 1990, pp56-69.

[5] John Molony, The Penguin History of Australia, the story of 200 years, Penguin, Victoria, 1988, p. 52-4 and Eris OBrien, The foundation of Australia 1786-1800, Sydney Angus and Robertson, 1937.

[6] Michael Stringer, Sydney Harbour, Rankin, Mosman, 1984, p24

[7] Marjorie Barnard, A History of Australia, Angus and Robertson, 1962, p.65.

[8] Grace Karskens, The Colony, a history of Early Sydney, Sydney, Allen and Unwin, 2009, p.172


[10] Grace Karskens, The Colony, a history of Early Sydney, Sydney, Allen and Unwin, 2009, p 225.

[11] Roger Box and other members of the India, London Companys and St Helena Genealogical mailing lists.

[12] SJ Butlin, Foundations of the Australian Monetary system 1788 – 1851, Melbourne University Press 1953, p. 40.



[15] Corporate Newsletter of NSW Treasury Office of Financial Management.

< 99/newslett.html >

[16] Gordon Beckett, Guiding the Colonial Economy, (2012) Colonial Press, Gatton, p.105.

[17] Beckett, p.107.

[18] Beckett, p.94.

[19] Beckett, p.108.

[20] John Laws and Christopher Stewart, It doesn’t end there – great Australian stories with a twist, 2006 Macmillan, Sydney, p.43.

[21] Beckett, p. 108 and <;

[22] Oriental Herald and Colonial Review, Volume 7, Google Books p.166.

[23] Marjorie Barnard, A History of Australia, Angus and Robertson, 1962 p. 329-333.

[24] Grace Karskens, The Colony, A history of Early Sydney, 2009, Allen and Unwin, p. 210.

[25] The Sydney Gazette and Advertiser, 29 April 1824

[26] The Asiatic Journal, 1 November 1825, page 605, issue 119.

[27] Bruce Child, Blood on the wattle, Frenchs Forest, Child and Assoc, 1988

[28] Dame Mabel Brookes St Helena Story page 245 and J David Markham, To befriend an Emperor, Betsy Balcombe’s memoirs of Napoleon on St Helena, Revenhall, 2005, p. 17.

[29] Oriental Herald and Colonial Review, London; Richardson, Lists of BDMs on the ships, Volumes 6-9, and Oriental Magazine and Calcutta Review (July – December 1823, publisher W Thacker) Google books.

[30] Russell Miller, The East Indiamen, Times Life Books, Amsterdam, 1980. p. 71-2.

[31] Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Town Advertiser, 19 March 1824

[32] Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Town Advertiser, 18 March 1824

[33] Beckett, p.252.

[34] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 8 April 1824

[35] Hobart Town Gazette, 2 April 1814 and Whitehead p.305.

[36] HRA I Vol XII pages 563-4, letter to Hay 14 Sept 1826

[37] NSW BDM 9137/1830 V18309137C,, Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 20 May 1830,

[38] The Australian, 27 November 1844, The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 30 November 1844, Hobart Courier, 17 December 1844.


[40] Ransome T Wyatt, The History of Goulburn, NSW Lansdowne Press, Sydney, p.21.

[41] Goulburn Evening Penny Post, 4 February 1915.

[42] Gareth Glover, Wellington’s Lieutenant Napoleon’s Gaoler, 2004 Pen and Sword.p.295

[43] Information from the Shipping records from the Archivist, Jamestown, St Helena.

[44] Philip Gosse, St Helena 1502-1938, p. 298

[45] The Argus, 9 October 1876

[46] George Farwell, Squatter’s Castle, 1973, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne


[48] Mrs AG Foster, Odd bits of old Sydney, 1921 Tyrrell’s Ltd, Sydney, pages 34-35, (can be found on line via the State Library of Victoria.)

[49] Beckett, p.30.

[50] Beckett, p.259.

[51] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 30 October 1825.

[52], page 7-9.


[54] Beckett. p.50.

[55] Beckett, p.42.



[58] Beckett, p 81-83.

[59] Beckett, p.43.

[60] Beckett p.21


[62] A journal of public administration, Volume 38, page 256, 1980 and further research into Balcombe’s health issues by the author.

[63] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 14 October 1824.

[64] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 25 August 1825.

[65] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 9 June 1825

[66] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 16 June 1825

[67] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 9 June 1825.

[68] JF Uniacke, death registration from NSW BDM, V18251079 8/1825.

[69] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 10 February 1825.

[70] Beckett, p.267.

[71] Sydney Gazette, 1 July 1824.

[72] Beckett, p.11

[73] Letters from Boyes to his wife in England quoted in Beckett, p.260.

[74] Sydney Gazette, 15 July 1824.

[75] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 22 July 1824

[76] Mrs L.E.Abell, letter from Sydney to Major General Sir Henry Torrens, London, 10 August 1824, National Library of Australia, Manuscript 7022.

[77] Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemens Land Advertiser, 2 July 1824, 20 August 1824, 27 August 1824 and 8 October 1824

[78] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 19 August 1824.

[79] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 10 February 1825.

[80] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 17 February 1825.

[81] Beckett, p.252.

[82] Sydney Gazette and NSW advertiser, 24 March 1825.

[83] Sydney Gazette and NSW advertiser, 7 October 1824.

[84] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 17 February 1825

[85] Colin Dyer, The French Explorers and Sydney, 1788-1831, University of Queensland Press, 2009, pp 98-140. and Colin Dyer, The French Explorers and the Aboriginal Australians 1772-1839, University of Queensland Press, 2005, pp 12-14.

[86] Colin Dyer, The French Explorers and Sydney, 1788-1831, pp 98-140.

[87] Colin Dyer, The French Explorers and Aboriginal Australians, 1772-1839, 2005, QUP, pp.12-14.


[89] John Molony, The Penguin History of Australia, the story of 200 years, Penguin, Victoria, 1988, p. 53)


[91] TA Johnston, A brief history of Radcliffe and the surrounding area, The Radcliffe Community Bicentennial Cookbook, <,au/carwoola_history&gt;

[92] Historical Records Australia, Vol XIV, page 67, Under Secretary Twiss to Governor Darling, Downing St, 7 July 1829, acknowledged 28 Dec 1829,

[93] Historical Records Australia, Vol XV, 1829-30, page 309.

[94] Catherine Morgan, Pindar and Corinth, lecture at UNE, Armidale, 10 August 2012, and Wikipedia,                             <,,,>

[95] Grace Karskens, The Colony, A history of Early Sydney, 2009, Allen and Unwin, p. 145.

[96] H McGregor, The Horse and Buggy Days, Roebuck, Canberra, 1981, p.24.

[97] Roger Longrigg, The History of Foxhunting, Macmillan, London, 1975, p. 244-5.

[98] H McGregor, The Horse and Buggy Days, Roebuck, Canberra, 1981, p.24.

[99] Rachel Roxburgh and Douglass Baglin, Early Colonial Houses of NSW, Ure Smith, Sydney, 1974, p 523.

[100] The Australian, 4 November 1824.

[101] Keith R Binney, Horsemen of the First Frontier (1788-1900), Volcanic Productions, 2005

[102] Keith R Binney, Horsemen of the First Frontier, p.166-167.

[103] Sydney Gazette and Advertiser, 24 March 1825.

[104] Keith R Binney, Horsemen of the First Frontier, p.166-167.

[105] Roger Longrigg, The History of Horse Racing, Macmillan, London, 1972, p. 254, 257

[106] H McGregor, The Horse and Buggy Days, Roebuck, Canbera, 1981, p.25.

[107] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 4 November 1826.

[108] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 31 March 1825 and 19 May 1825.

[109] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser ,28 April 1825.

[110] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 5 May 1825.

[111] The Australian, 11 August 1825 and

[112] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 6 October 1825.

[113]Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 27 October 1825.

[114] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 13 October 1825.

[115] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 10 October 1825 and JE Crowther and PA Crowther, The Diary of Robert Sharp of South Cave – Life in a Yorkshire Village 1812-1837, British Academy, Oxford University Press, 1997. pp xxxiv-xxxv and 175.

[116] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 3 November 1825.

[117] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 10 November 1825.

[118] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 14 November 1825.

[119] The Australian, 1 December 1825.




[123] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 8 December 1825.

[124] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 25 December 1825.

[125] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 256 January 1826


[127] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser articles from January to February 1826.

[128] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser , 15 March 1826.

[129] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 29 March 1826.

[130] Historical Records of Australia, series 1, Minute of Gov Darling No 108, 14 June 1826 p 372


[132] Beckett, p.71-2.


[134] Barnard page 374-5

[135] Robert Gibson, Accounting in Australia in Atsuo Tsuji and Paul Garner (editors), Studies in accounting history: tradition and innovation for the twenty first century, 1995, Greenwood Press, Wesport USA, p.192

[136] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 17 May 1826

[137] Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol XII, Jan 1825 – Dec 1826 pp 300 – 308.

[138] Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol XII, Jan 1825 – Dec 1826 pp 308.

[139] Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol XII, Jan 1825 – Dec 1826 pp 320 – 325.

[140] Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol XII, Jan 1825 – Dec 1826 pp 337-8.

[141] Brian H Fletcher, Ralph Darling, a Governor Maligned, Oxford University Press, 1984, p.95

[142] Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol XII, Jan 1825 – Dec 1826 pp 371-2.

[143] Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol XII, Jan 1825 – Dec 1826, p.590

[144] Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol XII, Jan 1825 – Dec 1826, p.702-6


[146] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 12 September 1826.

[147] Barnard page 376 and Carol Baxter Breaking the bank Allen and Unwin, 2008, pp. 1-2, 282,

[148] Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol XII, Jan 1825 – Dec 1826, P 732- 34,

[149] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 9 May 1827

[150] The Australian, 10 August 1827.

[151] The Australian, 29 August 1827.

[152] Sydney Gazette 24 September 1827

[153] Medical information from a descendent of Balcombe who is a medical doctor.

[154] Sydney Gazette 21 December 1827

[155] Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol 13, 1827 – Feb 1828, p 59 and family history research by the author.

[156] Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol 13, 1827 – Feb 1828, p 59 and p.353.

[157] The Australian, 7 April 1827

[158] The Australian. 11 April 1827

[159] Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser, 18 May 1827.

[160] Beckett, p.77.

[161] The Australian, 27 June 1827


[163] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 6 February 1830.

[164] Sydney Gazette 26 May 1831, Sydney Gazette11 June 1835, Sydney Herald 30 Jan 1837

[165] NSW BDM record John Piper at Bathurst 3016/1860 but that was Capt Piper’s son, the Captain himself does not appear on the NSW BDM list..

[166] Sunday Times, 25 September 1910.

[167] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 9 May 1827

[168] Sydney Gazette 10 August 1827 and 29 August 1827

[169] Sydney Gazette, 1 October 1827

[170] Sydney Gazette, 14 Dec 1827

[171] The Australian, 14 November 1827

[172] The Monitor, 12 November 1827.

[174]Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol 13, 1827 – Feb 1828, p 642-646

[175] The Monitor, 6 December 1827.

[176] Historical Records Australia, Volume XIII, p 642-646

[177] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 12 December 1827.

[178] Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser 14 December 1827 and 19 December 1827

[179] The Australian 27 July 1827.

[180] Sydney Gazette, 24 Sept 1827.

[181] Historical Records Australia, Volume XIII October, p 492, 565, 693, 694.

[182]Historical Records Australia, Volume XIII,,p 694:

[183] Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol XIV, Mar 1828 – May 1829,

Memorial from landholders for relief in payment of instalments on purchase of land, to the Gov, 28 May 1828, pp 207, 208 and Governor’s reply 208/9.

[184] Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol XIV, Mar 1828 – May 1829,

Town allotments. Gov Darling to Rt Hon W Huskisson, 26 Mar 1828. pp 41 – 44.

[185] Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol XIV, Mar 1828 – May 1829, Town allotments. Gov Darling to Rt Hon W Huskisson, 26 Mar 1828. pp 41 – 44. Treasurer Balcombe is mentioned in a footnote, No 21, page 909, to get a town allotment but it is noted Balcombe died before he could receive the deed of grant, page 598 had listed allotments in Woolloomooloo Cove, including Wm Balcombe with 5 acres.

[186] Sydney Gazette 21 March 1829

[187] Sydney Gazette 21 March 1829

[188] p 688, Gov Darling to Sir George Murray, 20 Mar 1829.

[189] NSW State Library. Call number MLDOC 384 Notes on burial place of William Balcombe.

[190] From a photograph of the headstone by Bob and Caroline Gaden.

[191] Carol Baxter An irresistible temptation Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 2008, page 102-3, 143, 370-1

[192] Sydney Gazette &NSW Advertiser 28 May 1829

[193] Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol XV, p 88-9.

[194] Historical Records of Australia Series 1, Vol XV, p 381.

[195] R Therry, Reminiscences of Thirty Years Residence in New South Wales and Victoria, quoted in The Australia Book, the portrait of a nation by our greatest writers, Editor: T Inglis Moore, Currey O’Neil, South Yarra, 1961, pp58-9.