Chapter 3: BALCOMBE and BURCHELL – business partners


William Balcombe and William John Burchell decided to go into partnership with each other on the Island of St Helena. Who was William Burchell and how did the two men meet?

Burchell was born in 1781, the eldest son of Matthew, a wealthy nurseryman of the Fulham Nursery and Botanical Gardens, an area of 7½ acres in King’s Road, close to Kew Gardens.[1] He developed an interest in natural history early on in life and was particularly taken with botany. Whilst at Raleigh House Academy, a school in Mitcham, he learned Botany from the Latin Usher, a subject helped by knowledge of Latin as so many botanical names are in that language. Burchell tried to find the taxonomic ‘class’ of the May Tree and young William, who was only thirteen years old, requested that his father send some botany books from home, specifically Linnaeus’ System of Botany. [2] In 1802 Burchell was recommended to become a Fellow of the Linnaean Society as he was “well versed in the science of Botany” and was likely “to become a useful and valuable member”. The letter was signed by AB Lambert, Charles Koenig, RA Salisbury and WG Maton and dated December 7th 1802. He was elected on 15th February 1803. [3]

In addition Burchell was a talented artist, sketching both landscapes and plants with accuracy, and a gifted musician and composer. He spoke several languages as well as continuing to be keen student of botany, collecting many specimens over the years. [4] It seems William and his father Matthew had a disagreement, he did not want to follow his father into the nursery business, he was more interested in travel and exploration. Burchell went off to Wales for some time with his sister Mary, boarding a ship in Cardiff and sailing to Swansea then traveling to Llanelli. [5]

Certainly his letter from Llanelli of 18 September 1804 suggested that other people were “better fitted to assist” his father rather than himself and he advised that even the “offer of emolument” was “repugnant to his feelings” and he suggested his brother George should be asked to assist with the business.

Complicating the relationship with his father, Burchell had fallen in love with a young lady called Isabella Lucia Green who had been baptised in St James Westminster on 27 April 1791.[6] She was the daughter of William Green who was the brother of Jane Balcombe.  Burchell’s family vehemently opposed the marriage, they thought there was a disparity of intellectual and social levels. [7] It was also likely that their fierce opposition was part of his reason not to follow and work with his father in the family nursery business. Apart from that his father had made clear, that after such an expensive education, he had to make his own way in the world. [8] Joining Balcombe, Lucia’s uncle, in a business venture was an emphatic declaration of his feelings and his need for independence.

Burchell and Balcombe drew up a partnership agreement which was witnessed by Robin Williams, the landlord of the Bugle Inn at Ryde, on the Isle of Wight and also by Burchell’s father Matthew. This suggests there must have been parental approval and probably the hope that whilst overseas he would overcome his desires to marry such a young girl who was considered to be an ‘unsuitable match‘.

The Bugle was situated close to the shore and was an unofficial ferry office for the captains and crews of wherries and hoys that worked the passage from Ryde to Portsmouth. [9] These were the barges which transported people and freight from large ships to and from shore. [10]

Both Balcombe and Burchell were then located in London, a long coach ride to Ryde – in 1750 it took 24 hours, by 1821 travelling time was down to 6 hours [11]– so why travel all that way to sign the contract? The Isle of Wight could be seen from Rottingdean on a clear day, so did Balcombe go back to the village and visit friends and relatives on his way to or from Ryde?

The Indenture was well over two thousand words long and no doubt all parties thought every legal entity had been covered. [12] It was drawn up on 12 August 1805 and was for an agreement between the two men to co-partner as joint dealers in a business or trade on St Helena. It was to last for seven years and they would buy and sell goods and merchandise. They were to arrange suitable premises on the island, rent was to be paid by the partnership and both were to employ themselves in the business with no sole trading. Accurate accounts were to be kept with both signing any orders and books were to be updated and balanced every six months. They were not to become bail or bond for another which would potentially make vulnerable their own goods or monies to be seized. No credit was to be allowed, both to approve any apprentice they employed. The work was to be shared equally but if one was absent, (presumably for a long absence such as a trip back to England) and the other put in more hours to cover, he was to be compensated by receiving two thirds of the profit rather than just half. If one was to die the business was to sell the stock needed to cover what the Executor required.

There was even a section on what would happen if Balcombe became employed by the HEIC as Appraiser and Auctioneer as suggested by the indenture….Burchell was to be paid one third of Balcombe’s profits from such a venture.

If a dispute arose between the two then each was to choose a person to act on his behalf. If the ‘referees’ could not reach agreement the dispute was to be taken to an ‘independent umpire’.

Both men agreed to put in one thousand pounds, a not inconsiderable sum of money. It seems strange that the Burchells were prepared to finance the business to that extent as, according to Burchell, William Balcombe had previously been arrested for debt and had been bailed by Burchell’s father.[13] Perhaps they felt secure with the wording of the extensive business agreement.

Somehow Burchell managed to talk his way into the position of Fourth Mate or Midshipman on HEIC ship Northumberland captained by George Raincock.[14] Obviously Burchell did not have the necessary qualifications for any position… to be Fourth Mate a sailor needed to be 21 years old, have performed one voyage to India or China and been in the Company’s service for 20 months or for one year of service in other employment plus one short voyage to India or China. Perhaps Burchell and Raincock knew each other before the journey to St Helena, possibly through family or were they former school friends?

Burchell’s family waved him farewell from Portsmouth. Later he wrote to his father from Northumberland on 20 August 1805 advising he had received the packet of letters but had not had the time to reply. The ship was bound for Cork. A week later he advised they had just escaped the French fleet and were now in the Cove of Cork. He had not seen the Balcombe family who were on another ship, but he hoped to get on their ship the next day. He advised he knew Mr. Higgins, the Doctor and the Captain paid him particular respect. He said he and Mr. Tate were the only two passengers except for four cadets; he obviously had to share a cabin with one of them. He commented

The Company’s officer on board at Portsmouth never took any particular notice of the new midshipman

This suggests that young Burchell was travelling as a Midshipman, not a mate nor a passenger.

Some months later, when the ship called into St Helena on her return voyage from the East,[15] Burchell was to write in his diary

I went with Captain Raincock on board The Northumberland where I again viewed my old ship. I took my last leave of my worthy and true friends Captain Raincock and Mr. Draper with no little regret as his kindness to me will ever leave a lasting impression on my mind.[16] Samuel Draper was the ship’s purser. [17]

And so on 31 August 1805 Midshipman William Burchell, on the Northumberland and Mr. and Mrs. Balcombe and two daughters, who were passengers on the Euphrates captained by Philip Herbert, joined the convoy of 61 East Indiamen under the command of Sir Home Popham and set sail for St Helena, a journey of two months. [18]

Sixty one tall ships under full sail would have been a very impressive sight.


For the family travelling on an East Indiaman life was not all that pleasant, for those who could pay it was a case of selecting the least uncomfortable space. In making the booking, the social status of the passenger had to be considered

‘Coming in the cabin’ is, in short, considered to be a species of guarantee for ‘respectability’, a relevant issue for men with families or for young women of good station”.[19]

Those in ‘steerage’ were usually not named in the local newspaper on arrival in port.[20]

For the ladies the upper or poop cabins were the most desirable despite the noise of feet on the poop deck above. These roundhouse cabins were light and airy and the ports (windows) could usually be left open unless it was the roughest of weather, a great psychological advantage over the lower decks which had to be closed up. The passengers ‘above stairs’ were also able to avoid meeting the common sailors! For the ladies another advantage was the ability to hang their washing in the privacy of their cabins rather than the indelicacy or indecency of seeing their washing hung out to dry for all to see.

Officers and Company officials may have been housed in tiered bunks in the great cabin, families could perhaps rent an officer’s cabin but for many men a hammock over a cabin trunk was their bed. The worst of all accommodation was steerage, an open passage with no privacy and exposed to violent currents of air, not always the sweetest.

Passengers had to furnish their own cabins, the HEIC provided the space only, so bed and bedding, tables, chairs, sofa, wash-stand were needed and all had to be fastened to the floor so they did not slide about as the ship heeled with the wind. Men were not allowed to whistle, they had to acknowledge the Captain and Officers and they had to become familiar with their designated position if Action Stations was called.[21]

On Sundays there would be an Anglican service which all would attend. Passengers filled in the rest of their time reading books, playing cards, chess, musical instruments and producing amateur theatricals or a concert around a piano; some took the opportunity to try and learn the language of their destination for example Hindustani. Sometimes there was a dance on deck. Male passengers may have shot albatrosses or hooked pigeons using baited lines. [22]

No doubt Mrs. Balcombe would have her hands full managing her two young daughters on the ship. It was permitted for ladies to promenade round the deck if weather conditions allowed.[23] Her ‘spare’ time was likely to be spent on sewing skills such as tapestry or embroidery, quilling, painting or drawing or reading some of the works of Wordsworth and Coleridge. There were books by the newly emerging female authors Elizabeth (Betsy) Sheridan, who wrote the appropriately named The India Voyage in 1804 [24] and Maria Edgeworth whose books included Castle Rackrent, published in 1800 and Belinda in 1802.[25]

Jane may also have read books authored by one Mary Darby Robinson, the real name of ‘Perdita’ who had been lover to the Prince of Wales for many years. Her book The False Friend (1799) was given a great deal of publicity when the press realised the connection and she wrote eight novels from 1792-99 and several volumes of poetry during her life.[26] Her book A letter to the women of England on the injustice of mental insubordination, also published in 1799, demanded justice for women in a male dominated world, and caused outrage among male readers.[27] One can only wonder if Mr. Balcombe allowed his wife to read it and also the controversial books by Mary Wollstonecraft, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters: With Reflections on Female Conduct, in the More Important Duties of Life (1787), Vindication on the Rights of Woman (1792) and also Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman (1798) which advocated equality of the sexes.[28]

Sailing to and from St Helena on such long journeys, often in hostile waters, was not without its risks as Britain was at war with America and France at that time. For example the Coramandel left the island with the India fleet but fell in with the York, an American Privateer of fourteen guns and 150 men led by Captain Burch who, within a few hours sail of Scilly, bore down on the Coromandel and after a chase of nine hours succeeded in capturing her.[29] Captain Cameron and Captain Stuart of the Madras army and passengers in the Coromandel had resolved to endeavour to recapture the ship in case of their parting with the privateer and the Lascars had agreed to assist them but Captain Burch of the Privateer, having received information of this intention, would not allow either of them to remain on board, taking them to his own ship. They reported

The Captain of the Privateer acted in the most honourable and humane manner to every individual and protected and restored all the private property and gave up his private apartments in the ship to accommodate Captain Stewart [sic] who was then in a bad state of health. We think it due to Captain Burch to state these facts in order that, in case he should be captured by any of our cruisers he should receive similar treatment and meet equal liberality and generosity as he manifested towards his prisoners.[30]

Not all Privateers were so hospitable to their prisoners.

Ships were also known to founder in bad weather, the East Indiamen were notoriously poor ships to sail, designed as they were to be long, narrow and very deep, made to carry cargo, with armaments to defend her freight and passengers, usually servants of the HEIC. They could make only 3 to 4 knots in the best of circumstances and the ungainly hull, far too long for the ship’s breadth, and high superstructure caused her to be pushed sideways by the wind.[31]

On 26 May 1777 The Hampshire Chronicle reported:

The East India Company has received the melancholy news that two of their ships are lost, one is the A Schat, which perished on the rocks called Pater Noster coming from Birna to Batavia on the second of August, the crew are saved, but the cargo lost, the other ship is the Eendracht, which was lost with all her cargo on the sand banks on the coast of Bengal.[32]

Another ship lost was the John Palmer, lost with all on board, among the passengers from St Helena were Colonel Wade, his wife and three children and Lieutenant Wade, Mrs. Edwards and four children. [33]

Storms played their part in disasters as well as poor navigation. In 1782 The Grosvenor was lost whilst carrying a valuable quantity of diamonds and 105 passengers, many from socially prominent families.[34] In October 1882 the Hampshire Chronicle reported the loss of the Navy ship Rainillies in a gale and all hands drowned but for one Midshipman and 25 sailors and there was also a report of the loss of the Mentor when only three survived from a crew of 54 after the ship foundered in a gale. [35] One fleet of over 140 vessels sailed from Yarmouth Roads into a violent storm with heavy rain and wind which separated the fleet, split their sails into slivers, and many ships had to cut away their masts.[36] Store-ship HMS Guardian was lost en route to NSW in 1789 after straying too far south into icebergs.[37]

With so many potential problems, no doubt William Balcombe and his family would have been delighted to finally see the small island of St Helena ooze onto the horizon one early misty morn.



For Jane and the girls it was their first glimpse of the island. After many weeks at sea they must have been relieved to get this first view of their future home. But it is dark, brooding, like layers of chocolate ice-cream slurping down precipitous cliffs to the cold water, but no gentle beaches here, it is uncompromising, stark and barren.[38] Betsy Balcombe called it a dark coloured ark [39] and James Prior, a visitor in 1814 described it as a vast mass of rock jagged and irregular, cut and slashed as it were into pieces by the great hatchet of nature. [40]


Sailing round the island, just 10½ miles by 6¾ miles in size, you come across one gash in the cliffs where landing may be possible. Before 2015 there was no harbour for the ships to berth[41], they had to drop anchor in “The Roads” where all were at the mercy of the weather and swell.

These legendary Atlantic rollers, long swells born in Newfoundland storms, can be six feet high even on a calm day in the inner bay, and boom ashore every half minute or so, making any landing perilous.[42] Until the new wharf opened, landing was hazardous. Even recently you clambered down the side of the ship where you had to scramble into a small boat rising and falling with the waves; a few minutes later, when the sailor said “Jump” you jumped for land, grabbing the stout ropes hanging from an overhead rail, praying that the sea and swell were kind, and when your sea-legs did finally hit the slimy steps of terra-firma, that they stayed there.[43]

The Balcombe family and William Burchell arrived at St Helena in December 1805 with the East India Company Fleet, Burchell disembarking on 13 December. He knew his ship’s Captain, George Raincock,[44] and had obtained a free passage by sailing as a Midshipman. On arrival he pleaded illness and so was officially ‘invalided’ from Northumberland, allowing him to stay on the island with his Business partner, William Balcombe.[45]

No doubt the pair thought they would be able to be involved in trading goods brought to the island with the Honourable East India Company (HEIC) ships which carried malt, sugar, oil, pepper, elephant oil, cotton, wine, provisions, tea, flour, sheep, nankeen, piece goods and porcelain.[46] St Helena was a meeting place for many ships – not only those of the Royal Navy but also the traders, the HEIC ships going to and from India and China, those that sailed east to Africa, or west to South America and the Whalers returning from deep in the Southern Seas. All met here to replenish and then be escorted on their way by ships of the Royal Navy. [47]

The explorers called here too, Captain Blyth took breadfruit from Hawaii to the West Indies, stopping in St Helena for some botanical R & R! These ships were often carrying botanical specimens and St Helena was a place where plants could be watered and be free from salt spray… and this was no doubt a lure for the botanist in Burchell.[48]

Jamestown is located along the floor of a long, high, very steep sided valley…with roads narrow and not of gentle gradient! As an indication, the road from the town to the Fort was known as Ladder Hill. When we visited the island we were in awe of Jacobs Ladder, a ‘staircase’ straight up the valley side to the fort. Not there in Balcombe’s day, it was originally a funicular built in 1829 to take ammunition and other goods from the port at the bottom of the hill to the fort at the top of the hill, and in 1871 it was rebuilt as a staircase, the steepness is indicated by its (originally) 700 steps, each 11 inches high, 600 feet in height.

Down in the valley it can become quite hot and oppressive. Betsy wrote that the family was fortunate to live out of town, her father possessing The Briars, a mile and a quarter away and out of the narrow valley. A small girl aged three, when they arrived young Betsy was carried in a basket on a negro’s head up to the house. [49] There was an extensive garden, a view out to sea and gentle breezes. Balcombe purchased The Briars in 1811, so it is assumed that initially the house was rented and we know that Burchell also stayed with the Balcombe household.

The Briars was built in the style of an Indian Bungalow, mainly from local stone, as were the vast majority of the houses in Jamestown. St Helena owed its existence to several volcanic eruptions, so the island was basically a cinder cone of thick volcanic lava which formed a plug of vesicular trachybasalt.

This was excellent for building and became the main stone used for housing on the island. [50] It remains a tradition on the island that everyone builds their own house.[51]


In March 1806 Burchell wrote to advise his father to

tell Mr. Hornsby we are going on very well and communicate the list to him, tell Mr. Pritchard that our remittances will be always very regular but our great expenses at first have prevented our sending more home as yet. [52]

He advised that they had nearly £500 owing from passengers staying with them. This suggests that The Briars was used as a lodging house for visitors keen to have a few nights ashore whilst their ships were replenished.

He continued that

Mr. Balcombe becomes gradually more a man of business.

He asks to be remembered to Mrs Hornsby, Mrs Green and Lucia. ‘Mrs Hornsby’ was Jane Balcombe’s older sister Lucia, her husband Thomas Hornsby appears to have been an agent for their business in England. ‘Mrs Green’ was Jane’s sister-in-law, married to her brother William and ‘Lucia’ was the Green’s daughter, Isabella Lucia, who was engaged to William Burchell.[53]

However just a few short months later, in early June, Burchell wrote to his father that he had

a fever owing to the anxiety and fatigue in managing the business. I think I shall not be able to continue in it.

He advised they had bought stock from the store ship but had not then forwarded it on to the Cape so the covering insurance premium could be returned. [54]

Was Burchell struggling with his own role in the business, was he concerned about a large amount of money they owed or were owed, did he not like the direction the business was taking or perhaps the way Balcombe handled things?

Soon Balcombe and Burchell were locked in major disagreement over business strategy. Reading between the lines it seems Balcombe was far too speculative and took too many risks for the more sensitive Burchell who did not have the experience of trading that his partner had gained over his years sailing with the Royal Navy and then the HEIC.

Burchell was also a more refined young man. From his letter to his father written on 23 June 1807 it is obvious that Burchell was well aware of his higher position on the social ladder. His privileged home, attendance at the prestigious Raleigh House School and his academic accomplishments in languages, music, science and art were all an indication of his social status. Burchell had been honoured by his election as a Fellow of the Linnaean Society in 1803.[55] He would have been more at home in the Tea and Coffee houses of the era than in the more convivial atmosphere of the Balcombe household where naval guests were frequent visitors and plenty of glasses of wine were consumed.

In Georgian times music and dance featured strongly and new risqué dances such as the waltz were introduced from Europe. After-dinner musical evenings were popular, with everyone contributing something towards the entertainment.[56] As a talented musician Burchell would have excelled with his performances but perhaps the tastes of the Balcombe household were too coarse for Burchell, he had not faced the cut and tumble of Naval life, nor was he attuned to the military spirit of the Island.[57]

William Burchell kept an extensive diary which is now part of the collection at the Hope Library, Oxford University. The collection was given to the University by Burchell’s sister Anna. The diary has been severely mutilated, pages have had whole sections removed and even complete pages have been cut out. Who would do such a thing? It is thought the culprit may well have been his sister Anna herself … she had proved very difficult and protective and in his later years refused permission for friends and family to visit him.[58]

However it is wonderful that parts of the diary still exist to allow readers an excellent insight into the daily happenings on the island.

When Burchell wrote in his diary, he called Balcombe ‘B’ and tended to use abbreviations for names, so ‘C’ was Colonel Cocks and Mr. & Mrs B & Jane’ were William Balcombe and his wife Jane and elder daughter also Jane.

The tiffin he refers to is a slang term for a second breakfast or any light meal, the term originating in British India.[59]

1806 November 2nd We all partook of a tiffin on Rupert’s Hill sent there by the Government. At 2pm we all walked in the Valley and B and I walked home with Col C where we dined. After dinner Col C told me of his invention. B and I were back at 4pm.[60]

1806 November 10th I took my breakfast and set off to walk to the Fort but B sent the horse after me that I might ride. B rode to dine at Cock’s in the Country

1806 November 11 Tuesday …discovered in his manner something…. Mr. & Mrs B & Jane dined at Cocks’ but returned to tea. I received the proceedings of the Council respecting the Botanic garden, & their resolution to request the Directors to allow me a competent salary for my trouble in superintending it.

1806 November 17 Monday Mrs Phillips paid her first visit. Capt Phillips I found to be an old schoolfellow of mine at Days & Rowleys. Mrs Cham. & part of her family returned to the country and we all walked part of the way up Ladder Hill with them

18th November B went to Col C’s in the Country to see how he is

Burchell wrote to his sister Mary telling her of his strong feelings for ‘L’ (Lucia Green) and his obvious distress should his parents continue to oppose the union.

In my letter to Mary dated 5th December I explained strongly that the sentiments of my heart (with respect to L but I did not mention the name) were fixed for ever and that I should be rendered miserable if they opposed me &c &c.

1806 December 15 Monday. I went [line cut away] Barnes’s. The gardener came to tell me that [word missing] had now put him entirely under my orders. B dined at the Castle & the Governor talked with him a great deal about me in the most flattering terms of my character etc. In the evening B & Mrs B & I called on the Doveton’s, where I laid out the circular border & the Long walks.

The Governor of the time was Robert Patton[61] and Doveton was William Webber Doveton who served with the HEIC, first as a writer but he rose through the ranks to become a member of Council and Commandant of the St Helena Volunteers during the Napoleonic War. He was a magistrate and judge and was knighted in 1818. His home at Mount Pleasant, Sandy Bay had a magnificent view over the bay. He died aged ninety in 1843. [62]

The Officers (military) who came in the transports from the Cape, dined with us & Captain & Mrs Hadden, from Van Diemen’s land, bringing home dispatches from Governor Collins, requiring supplies from England as the settlement was in extreme want. They took up their abode with us. J Barnes called in the evening to tell me that the Govr was most particularly pleased with my paper on Irrigation.

So it appears that Burchell was making a good impression in the right circles with his knowledge of gardens, irrigation systems and plans for a Botanic Garden on the island.

23rd December Captain and Mrs Hadden and Mr. and Mrs B rode round the Country and dined at Friar’s Valley where I met them and after dinner we all rode home together.

31st December Captain Hitchman and B took a ride into the Country and did not come home until late. This being the last day of the year the band in the evening went round to play before the doors of the Members of Council which put us in mind of dancing the old year out and the new one in and we afterwards engaged part of the band (5 of them) to play for us.


1807 January 1 Thursday. I was up this morning before 9

We have no record of William Balcombe being appointed Appraiser and Auctioneer as suggested in their business agreement but in 1807 Balcombe was appointed as the Superintendent of Public Sales for the Honourable East India Company (HEIC).[63] He was also reported to be the English Naval Agent on St Helena but it is not known when he took up that position.[64]

To have been appointed to a position with the HEIC suggests that Balcombe had made a favourable impression on the businessmen of the Company governing body on St Helena but if Burchell made a comment about this then it has been lost to his sister’s scissors!

2 Friday. By chance I met Capt Statham, asked himself if he knew of any man I could get for a servant for me; he said he was going to let May but that he was engaged to Philips, but that he gave the man his choice of a master. I said he would exactly suit me & was sorry I could not get him. He said he would tell him so.

3 Saturday. Capt Statham told me that when he mentioned to May that I wanted him, he was quite delighted & said he had rather live with me than anyone else at St Helena; he said he hoped I was not hiring him for Mr. Balcombe for he did not wish to live with him.

(May appears to be a former slave).

1807 January 3 Saturday. I agreed to take him & pay £50 per year.

4 Sunday. Wrote a letter to Mrs B. &c

At some point Burchell moved out of the Balcombe’s house and found accommodation for himself. The fact that he wrote a letter to Mrs B suggests he either gave notice of his intention, or may even have already moved by 4 January. It was not until 18 March that he actually moved into the School house so where was he for the months of January and February? Did he sleep at The Briars but eat elsewhere? Did he move into another house or a local Inn? Some diary entries suggest he was still with the family, others that he had moved, what a pity his sister cut out so many passages.

Many comments in Burchell’s diary relate his unfriendly attitude towards his former friend, B, but he still appears to have regular contact with the family. Though he moved into the School House in March when he became School Master it was not until 23 June 1807 that he finally started to teach. His father and others had sent testimonials but Burchell suggested he did not apply for the position but was offered it. [65] He also collected botanical specimens and tried to set up Botanical gardens under the patronage of several Governors, all which appeared to lead to conflict and his original enthusiasm descended into disillusionment, although he received praise from others he mentions in his diary.

9 Friday. In the country. Cocks who asked me to his house in the country for a day or two. I first went to the Botanic Garden & then (?) rode after him, & was there by dinner time John Barnes voluntarily lent me his horse, as B. had sent both ours into the country.

10 Saturday. To amuse ourselves this [word omitted] we walked up to the Telegraph, where I again got specimens of those plants I discovered on 14 Dec last. We afterwards took a ride to Mr. Doveton’s, but I experienced…

23rd January 1807 (Fleet of 15 merchant ships and a man-o-war)… I was at the beach and saw them come in. It certainly was a very majestic sight.

24th 1807 Jany: Saturday – I was much surprised at seeing again, one who was a fellow passenger with me on the Northumberland, a cadet of the name Cummings; his sister also came out with him. But being but a stupid genius he did not meet much notice in India, became disgusted, and was now on his passage home: having left his sister in Calcutta not better pleased with her reception and intending to return (he said) by Captn Raincock.

I made particular enquiry about my old acquaintances & found that Captn Raincock had been twice at Puls Pinang, where he landed Mr. Tate (but the schemes at Prince of Wales’s Island [now called Penang Island, Malaya], he said, were talked of being abandoned!!) That the Northumberland & Euphrates parted company soon after leaving the Cape of Good Hope & proceeded on their voyage singly. That the Euphrates being leaking had been in dock at Calcutta, & that Captn Raincock would be at St Helena in about three months.

Entries for most of February are missing but there was

…tomorrow B saw the Govr who said he expected me to dinner tomorrow. Went down to the fort after dinner & returned at 11pm, all abed.

BurchellPhoto1 001

Burchell obviously spent time alone writing poetry as on 7 February as he wrote An Address to Lot, one of the spectacular rock formations on the island.

An Address to Lot, a rock in the Island of St Helena

Say lofty monarch of the rocky bay

Speak I adjure thee and unbending say

Why from the isle thou can’st resolve to go

And look’st with frowning brow on all below.

No storms nor snow e’er vex thy timeworn head

But gentle dews alone are on thee shed.

No rival near disputes thy rude domain

Thy wife alone is equal and her train

Of nestling silent children huddle round

As fearful of the dashing surge sound

Behold thy well built palace and its walls

Of rock basaltic formed, whose sight appalls

The wond’ring mind of all who hither tread

With cautious steps along their sandy bed.

Behind thee view the verdant barrier rise

When still Diana’s sun to seek the skies

And Luna’s peaceful course each night commence

Whose smile serene seems oft to call me hence.

Her canopy spreading Gum trees all are thine

And Stringwood too with branches coralline.

Her Cabbage trees with tortuous trunks hang o’er

And to thee bend obeisance as before

Why from the island dost thou bend thy way

Speak I adjure thee and relenting say

It is thou fear’st of foes a ruthless band

From other countries may invade the land?

Behold the guns and view the batt’ries there

So wary placed by P[atton]’s guardian care.

Thy flight forego and yet remain a year

When Albion here will turn with judgement clear

The Veil which hides this fairy spot from them

Shall be withdrawn and who will them condemn

The rocks without which blessings guard within

Yes, then thy hills flourish will begin.

Why silent monarch of the Sandy Bay

Speak I adjure the condescending say

Why with a sad and solitary pace

Refusing converse with the human race

Thou seem’st prepared to quit this banished isle

Where Spring and health and Nature ever smile.

But solemn monarch is’t thy voice I hear

That rolls like thunder on my ‘stonished ear



These photographs taken on 1 November 2010 shows Lot in the foreground with Lot’s Wife the taller of the four formations in the distance. These volcanic pillars are phonolitic intrusions but the rock is crumbly and so not useful for building.[67]


In early 1807 disaster struck the Island. The Fleet which sailed from the Cape brought measles to St Helena. Captain Leigh of the Georgiana knew of the outbreak raging at the Cape but did not think to warn the islanders. Clothing from the ships was sent ashore to be washed, taking with it the contagion. It was to have devastating consequences for this isolated population which had little or no immunity to the disease.

Three weeks after contact there were 2 families with the disease, which initially did not cause alarm for the islanders. But then the illness spread. Government and public offices as well as businesses all closed. Within two months, by 9 March it was reported that not a single family had escaped their influence. By the end of April there were over 150 lives lost, with close to sixty from the White population and over one hundred Blacks who were ‘church buried’. Non-baptised people were not counted so what was the true number of deaths and where were those others buried? [68]

1807 March 9th One of the ships came in today and was put under quarantine as she came from the Cape last: she was the Government H.C.S. from Bombay. B went down this morning

Something happened at this time which caused an even more major rift between Balcombe and Burchell

March 13th Friday. Col. Cocks called on me & expressed his surprise at B’s outrageous conduct, & finding that I would not sit at the table, he asked me to dine with him. B came down at 4, & Mrs B. &c Col. C. at dinner time, was not at home. I waited 1½ hour, and went home to get some dinner. I called at 7, but – – he Mrs. C & Cruikshanks were in the middle of dinner I did not go in. I did not see him that night but I believe B. did. Barnes told me today that B still ….

Saturday. While writing the above Col. Cocks comes up to my room & says “he has seen B. & the result of it is this “putting a letter into my hand”; which having read, I said…

If only we knew what Balcombe had done to so offend his former partner… a disagreement about speculative purchases would surely not lead to such vehement condemnation, so what was the “outrageous conduct”?

16 Monday. There are no public dinners now on account of measles. A strange ship was seen today within 3 leagues of Sandy Bay & was the same as seen yesterday. May came down. Ship came in & was a Portuguese brig, The Virgin Mary, from Rio Janeiro to the coast of Africa.

17 Tuesday. An alarm at day break. I set May to clean the school house as I intended to live there.

18 Wednesday. I moved my bed & many other things to the school house where I slept this night for the first time. The tranquility and quietness of the house was delightful. Here my ears were not shocked by the laugh of vulgarity or the obscenity & profaneness of the conversation always to be heard at Balcombe’s.

These diary entries for March suggest he had been resident within the Balcombe household all this time. If The Briars was run as a boarding establishment taking in paying guests, then this may well have been possible. If he had found lodgings down in James Town itself surely that would have been noisy too, so why comment on the conversation just at the Balcombe’s home, an Inn would have been equally ‘vulgar’?

The refined Mr Burchell had certainly not enjoyed living at the Balcombe household.

1807 March 20 Friday. Settled our accts with Capt Miller. Col C. & I rode today to West Lodge to remain there a few days. There was only I & Col C. We called at the Govr but saw no-one. When we got to West Lodge we were drenched with rain & I was obliged to sit in my wet pantaloons which made me very sick & ill in the night.

21 Saturday. Spent most of the day in reading (Scanard’s anecdotes) our amusement was mostly reading & talking.

22 Sunday. It appearing to be fine. We took a walk as far as Cason’s Gate, & returned to dinner. Spent the evening in reading.

23 Monday. We both walked down to the fort & near Plantation house were overtaken by the Govr who expressed much pleasure at having received my letter & Colours & he again asked me if I would read prayers, which I assured him I would readily do & he then said he should expect me next Sunday. I went with him into the fort at Ladder Hill & where he shewed me the model of his invention to discover the distance & bearings of ships at sea. He talked to me about surveying & said that he should soon find one some work of that kind to do.

Governor Patton was quite an inventor. He had much improved the water of the island by puddling them with a mixture of lime, gravel and clay, which he named puzzolana; he attended also to the state of the fortifications, and one battery was called Patton’s Battery.[69] Another invention was Patton’s Telegraph, introduced in 1803. It was erected on the most commanding heights on the island up to 2000 feet above sea level, connected one with another and spread over the island so no vessel could approach from any direction without being descried at the distance of 60 miles. A code of signals was used to identify the various ships.[70] Was Patton now working on an invention to accurately describe the ship’s location as it approached the island?

The diary continues:

24 Tuesday. Was unwell today, my stomach being disordered: a complaint to which at this time many people in the island were subject, but in the evening I went down & supped with Barnes. In conversation I found that he knew Irving [missing]….

Liver disease was a major issue for the Islanders, as was dysentery. This was recognised by Dr. Barry O’Meara who wrote to John Wilson Croker, Secretary to the Admiralty to advise him of the problem.

These problems were most likely caused by Amoebic dysentery, as seen by the number of deaths in the 66th Regiment, the squadron and the Europeans in general. HMS Conqueror lost one sixth of her complement. Jane Balcombe and her brother-in-law Teavil Leason were frequently sick and liver disease was the suspected cause. [71] When the French exiles arrived on St Helena the Marquis of Montchenu wrote that congestion of the liver is the commonest disease [72] and Napoleon himself was known to have suffered from chronic hepatitis since September 1817. [73] No doubt drinking impure water which was contaminated by run-off from the burial ground and the nearby barracks and water dirtied by animal waste was part of the problem. In many instances, the Island’s Slaves had come from countries where amoebic dysentery was endemic and it was a frequent problem for the sailors onboard ships. In those days it was not known that boiling water was required to break the life cycles of parasites or destroy bacteria.[74] If only the Islanders had had access to an uncontaminated supply of water.

To add to his existing intestinal woes, a couple of days later Burchell was kicked in the pit of the stomach by Barnes’ horse and he was still unwell and vomiting the following day. He wrote

I read the information… of the Governor’s fatherly kindness to me, that he had written to the Court of Directors speaking of me in a very favourable way. That I was going to read prayers at Plantation House next Sunday (the first time). That I had made a discovery that the island produces a great quantity of valuable paints & that I would by the next ship send him a few kegs. That the measles had been raging here like a plague. That Captn Herbert would not be here these two months.

Now I was living in the house appointed for one by the Company, finding it more pleasant than the [cut away] now could have everything in my own way. I had only time to write thus much, when the last boat left the shore. (at 6pm).

Saturday. An alarm. This ship was generally supposed to be the long expected store ship. The moment I was told so, every nerve was in agitation.

Burchell was eagerly awaiting the supply ship which was bringing his fiancée Lucia, so it is no wonder his ‘every nerve was in agitation‘. Alarms were fired frequently from the Alarm House to alert the residents that a ship had been sighted. It was also designed to advise the islanders if that ship was a friend or foe, with a different number of guns fired and different flags raised acting as code for the Islanders. Burchell should have known if it was the supply ship or another ‘friendly’ vessel or a call to arms.

29th March Sunday. Early this morning I read a note from Barnes saying that the Govr expected me to breakfast; but that if I was not well enough he would make a signal by the telegraph to let the Govr know I could not come. I answered that I certainly meant to go. I took my breakfast & set off at 9. The road up Ladder Hill was scarcely passable owing to the great quantity of earth washed down by the heavy floods of rain these 2 or three days past. When on the top of Ladder hill I saw the ship coming in.

1807 March 29 Sunday How anxiously did I fix my eyes on it and [word missing] I sat still on my horse for 10 minutes & seemed almost inclined to turn back. However I proceeded.

31st March The measles seems to taking its course through the Island and many people die particularly the corpulent, the dram drinkers and weak children

1807 April 2 Thursday I employed most of the day in making seed boxes for the Botanic garden. Little Mary B was very ill with the measles.

3 Friday I remained at home almost all the day, where I now frequently dine alone. [cut away] I sent a note to Barnes wishing him to come and sup with me. This was the first Company I have had at my own house. He informed me (as a secret) that the garrison at Ladder hill fort were nearly in a state of mutiny, and that he was to supersede Captn Start in the command there.

The next night he dined with Brabazon and had a meeting with the Governor and Mr. Porteous.

April 6th the measles is raging as much as at first but seems of a more malignant nature.

Young Mary Balcombe died at this time. It is strange that Burchell does not appear to mention her death in his diary, but the entry was probably a section removed by his sister. William Burchell would have known Mary all of her short life and, despite his anger with William Balcombe, he seemed to remain fond of Mrs Balcombe. We cannot be sure that he attended the funeral but suspect he would have. On 8 April 1807 Mary Balcombe was buried,[75] just a few weeks before her first birthday, having been born on 22 May 1806. [76] When we visited the Island in 2010 the graveyard was very overgrown and there was no index or map available to indicate the location of specific graves. Sadly there was no stone that we managed to locate.

10 April 1807 The Spencer & The Theseus bring news of capture of Monte Video; dinner with Governor.

4 June 1807 The Governor held a levee at the Freemason’s Lodge which I and B attended. A royal Salute was fired from the field pieces on the Parade and the King’s health &c was drank. I dined with Mrs B and in the evening we went to the Castle and stopped… only to see that the first part of the fireworks; when we returned….

(From this diary entry of 4 June it appears that a Freemason’s Lodge existed in Jamestown as early as 1807, and it is known that William Balcombe attended Lodge meetings when he subsequently moved to New South Wales. [77] However the Jamestown Lodge did not officially exist until it received its Warrant of Constitution dated 6 April 1843. It appears to have been known as Lodge Number 718 as early as 1832 and later became Lodge Number 488 which it remains today. It is likely that before its formal acceptance any Freemasons who served on the Island would attend some form of organised meeting. It is known that Napoleon himself was a Freemason, possibly being initiated in an Army Philadelphe Lodge between 1795-98, or at Malta between June 12-19, 1798. His four brothers were also Freemasons. In fact the ex-Emperor obviously placed his trust in them …. of the six men chosen by him for high office in the Grand Council of the Empire, five were certainly Freemasons. It is perhaps appropriate that the current Masonic Hall for St Helena is located in Jamestown’s Napoleon Street)[78]

Burchell wrote to his father on 5 June 1807 advising he had sent a large piece of St Helena honeycomb rock to his father on board Memphis, for his mother to use in her hermitage. The rock is vesicular trachybasalt, and the tiny air holes (vesicles) are clearly visible in the rocks of the wall. It is evidence of the Island’s volcanic origins, and is still used for building houses and rock walls on the island.[79]


22nd June From what I hear from Barnes and from B who has been with Col Cocks I began to fear the Governor Patton is determined on leaving the Island especially as his two daughters are going to India.

Burchell would be saddened by this news as Patton had appreciated his talents and appointed him to be school master, with a salary of £80 per annum, to teach languages, mathematics and drawing. He also asked him to give coaching to the soldiers who hoped to attend the Royal Military College at Woolwich once they returned to England.

However Burchell was soon overjoyed to receive some good news from his family in England and his replies show his happiness.

Letter addressed to Matthew Burchell Esq., Fulham near London

Island of St Helena 23 June 1807

My dearest Father

After passing many an anxious day in expecting letters from you & the rest of my friends I at last, on 14 May, recd by the Worcester or United Kingdom the letter from Mary and Sarah dated 7 Feby last which they sent to the care of Mr. Davies. And on the next day arrived the Duke of Montrose and the Alfred which had sailed from England 6 days before the others. With respect of one subject Mary and Sarah’s letter has superseded all the others. And that being of decidedly the greatest consequence to me, I shall write to you on that first. After what I have written in my other letters you may have guessed the greatest anxiety of mind I have suffered ever since my leaving England, but you can never imagine the joy that awaited every nerve of me when I read yours and my mother’s resolution to no longer oppose my happiness. If you had persisted I again repeat (& my feelings tell me I could never have changed my mind) that I must have been in this world ever miserable. Yours and my mother’s reasons against it I have read over and over again but they would never have had the weight you wished. I might have obeyed you but what then I never could, as you thought, have sought happiness with another and the consequences would have been such as an affectionate parent would have been wretched to think of. However I shall not reflect on any such thing for so gloomy a prospect is vanished. But I shall call down further blessings on your heads and give heartfelt thanks to my God and Protector for having thus far prospered every wish and granted me more than I expected. As it is not only my desire but my duty to give you every explanation on this subject I shall begin by endeavouring to do away with your suspicion that there was any planning by either party. My affections I most conscientiously assure were never at any time biased by any of her family, but on the contrary obstacles were put in our way. Mrs Hornsby has discarded her on that account and Mrs Balcombe has never till she was at St Helena, I am certain, any knowledge of the circumstance. For my being so frequently over the way I had the fortunate opportunity of discovering her worth. I was glad to have perceived it and thought myself a young man highly favoured by providence if I could secure so invaluable a treasure as a good wife, and which I plainly saw I should find in her. I soon found that her esteem for me kept pace with mine for her; and thus has arisen a mutual affection and friendship which nothing on earth can set aside or perhaps exceed. This is no foolish momentary attachment, for several years have passed and our esteem for each other is still increasing. I have seen her temper at all times and she has seen mine. Why is the family she has lived in, or her own, to cause her to be less esteemed?

Do people refuse to take a Diamond because it lies among pebbles? In short, the case is she is a young woman who, (as all that have often seen her, know) possesses the greatest goodness of temper and a kind and humane heart, a mind capable of sound refection and good judgment, a good education, a love or morality and sense of rectitude (in which every aforementioned point I, whom it most concerns, am completely satisfied) and she loves me with the greatest affection I think any person can possibly have. And how can I hope for any one more perfect.

Were I to pass by such goodness with the avaricious hope of finding a richer or one of higher birth I should expect that Heaven would (as it most frequently does) punish such a disposition with a wife that would render me miserable all my life. Do not regret that I have not suddenly made myself rich by marrying a woman of fortune, nor brought honor [sic] to the family by a lady of high rank: I hope by more honourable means to accomplish both these ends: by my own talents and the respectability of my character, supported by a love of virtue and a sense of honour.

Was it possible do you suppose that I could find happiness with another or that I could transfer my affections to another (which Heaven knows can never be) where could I find one so worthy, or indeed where could I find one at all, here are none but the most ignorant and uninformed and as far as I have seen bad tempered: the richest, with a fortune, too trifling to think of, and in short are such as are the ridicule and contempt (tho in general handsome) of every stranger that passes the island, and such that you could not take into a company of English people without feeling ashamed of them.

Indeed I am sure that if you will but for a moment, divesting every prejudice, imagine yourself in my situation, you will think me most fortunate to have done as I have and you will see I have prepared for myself on the true and only foundation a future life of happiness and comfort.

Thus I shall conclude this letter that I may leave its subject unmixed with any other except that I most fervently wish you a long life and health to enjoy the greatest happiness and comforts the world can afford and ardently hoping that it may not be many years before I see you again to enjoy those blessings with you.

Yours truly dutiful and affectionate

Wm J Burchell

10 July 1807 There having being an alarm this morning Captain Raincock, Mr. Draper, B and I walked to the water to see the ship come in.

So Balcombe and Burchell were still amiable enough to join each other watching a new ship arriving in The Roads to drop anchor and then employ a hustle and bustle of small boats to ferry both people and goods between ship and shore.

Burchell’s concern that Governor Patton was to leave the Island was soon borne out, with him leaving on HMS Sir Edward Hughes on 20 July and Colonel Lane was sworn in as Governor.

September 5th 1807 As the painter had now finished my rooms I was this morning pleasantly busy in putting them in order and everything I was doing strongly brought sentiments in my mind which convinced me that I could never live happily in any home without my dear good Lucia.

12th Sept Dined early as I have agreed with Barnes to ride with him to his Country house and thence tomorrow to make excursion to Diana’s Peak. But half way up Side Path we met Col Lane attended by Wilkinson. I passed first but Barnes was stopped by Lane who speaking in a most ungovernorlike manner ordered him not to leave Town and thus his infernal temper prompted him to an expedient which completely frustrated our excursion and we were obliged to return, or at least Barnes was: and therefore I did not choose to proceed alone. As soon as I had got home I wrote another letter to Mr. B explaining this and again telling him of Col Lanes….. conduct.

13th Sept…. two sailed at 2pm. Mr. Stackhouse promised to call himself on Mr. B… at noon I took a ride to High Knoll (for the first time). Told Mr. Porteous of Col Lane’s conduct.

21st Sept As we heard an alarm this morning B went down to the Fort and brought word it was only a whaler brig

28 September 1807 Col C. Sent, desiring to speak a few minutes with me. I found him alone & he then read to me the copy of the letter he & Doveton had written to the Court of Director and also told me that the Board here, did not wish that I should have a copy of those paragraphs that implicated Wilkinson

[Wilkinson was the church minister who was very much out of favour at that time].

Mrs Cocks & Mrs Roberts were at supper with us. I this evening explained to Col C. Exactly how far I was acquainted with Col. Lane in England. Col. C. Said he intended to go home in January and should certainly call on my father at Fulham.

29 Sept Tuesday. Early this morning Bagley was sent down for a doctor (for Mrs B., who was unexpectedly taken ill,) and the child linen. When Dr Baildon returned, I learnt that poor Mrs B. Had lost the infant, but was (thank God) tolerably well herself.

So poor Jane Balcombe had to cope with the loss of her stillborn baby so soon after toddler Mary died. How sad she and the rest of the family would have felt.

Meanwhile William Burchell’s happiness was increasing. His parents had removed their opposition to his fiancée Lucia and she was due to soon travel to join him on the Island.

Letter to Mrs Burchell, Fulham near London

Island of St Helena 26 Oct 1807

My dearest Mother,

I feel so much pleasure in writing to you that nothing but the greatest hurry and want of time should prevent my doing it oftener. But there is no necessity for my reminding you of my greatest affection for you for I see that none can have for one that heartfelt kindness which a parent feels. And it was this solicitude for my welfare and future happiness which made you object to the choice I made but you must surely be satisfied that on that choice depends all my welfare and future happiness. When you see us at our return you will thank the Providence that brought us together and without prejudice you will say that Lucia possesses an excellent heart which you will allow is the most substantial good to be found in this world. The kindness which you have shown to her she will not be ungrateful for and I trust to Heaven that we shall all soon meet again to live in happiness and peace with only one wish for us all, that of pleasing each other. Farewell my dearest mother and be assured that I shall ever be

Your most affectionate and dutiful son


A bond for £200 was lodged with the HEIC on November 16, 1807 by Matthew Burchell and one other person, perhaps a member of his or the Green family, for Miss Lucia Green to travel to St Helena.

By now the relationship between Balcombe and Burchell had clearly deteriorated further, perhaps if some part of the business had failed, and money was owing, things had been said which best were left unsaid. Sadly we will never know the details but Burchell wrote on 16 November 1807 of a visit by someone who was leaving the island who commented to Burchell he only regretted leaving 3 people, on the Island, himself and the Baildons and that he perceived

that the good character I bore on the Island would make the slander of the B’s fly back upon their own heads. He was sure that now everyone began to see how the case was, & that B had acted a most dishonourable part towards me.

18 November At about 1 today Williams came to take his leave of me. His last conversation with me and advise was by all means to get clear of B. He assured me that the world saw my character in clear light and that I had nothing to fear from his calumny that they began to see him in a dishonourable point of view and that if I did not quit him he would bring me ruin. He urged this with so much solicitude for my welfare that I inwardly felt the greatest satisfaction in perceiving that I might safely add his name to the list of my true friends.

I told him (what I had never told anyone else) that my affections were firmly engaged to one who was related to these though I believe this circumstance is generally known on the Island and he seemed to be acquainted with it. He begged me for God’s sake, not to delay the separation till it is perhaps….

So it looks as if he was being warned to be totally separated from the business enterprises of Balcombe so he would not be embroiled in any bankruptcy or scandal. After this advice Burchell decided to have nothing more to do with their business.

13th December 1807 I sit at home alone. On this day 2 years ago I landed at St Helena

Something was told to Burchell to prompt this diary entry on 18th December, if only we knew the what, when, where, why and who!

I was glad to hear this as it gave me hopes that I should in the end make the people confess the disinterestedness and justness of my conduct and force from them that esteem that I thought I deserved, and as it convinced me I should ultimately triumph over all my enemies particularly my most dangerous and insidious enemies.

21st December I heard the B’s were all down in the Fort today and were going up again tomorrow. I saw nothing of them. Their conduct has caused me to entertain sentiments of the most perfect indifference for them

He talks of being indifferent to the Balcombes, yet reading between the lines he appears to very angry and sad, anything but indifferent! The arrival of his fiancée, their relative, had the potential to further complicate their strained relationship.

23rd December 1807 I received a letter from B. In the Country, saying that from the 1st January next he should consider himself as trading by himself, whether our accounts for settling are prepared or not. And as I saw that there would be an endless confusion & trouble in our making a regular separation by each taking half the goods & half the debts I thought of proposing for B to pay me a certain sum and that all the rest should remain his. I rode immediately to Longwood to consult Col. Cocks on the propriety of this plan but found that he was gone to West Lodge. I therefore left a letter for him explaining the affair. At my return at dinner I felt a distressing lowness of spirits at considering the ingratitude I had met with from the B’s and that those with whom I had left my home as true friends, proved at last to be false ones.

This diary entry certainly suggests there are debts to settle rather than profits to divide.

23 Dec I do not go near the B’s now, but letters often pass between us respecting our plan of separation.

24 Thursday. This being Christmas eve my holidays began today. The children brought with them a bundle of Gobbleyheer, Wild rosemary, Roses & their flowers, some of whose leaves were ornamented with leaf gold to dress the school with. I gave them some wine & cakes & dismissed them with no little pleasure at thus having a little respite from a troublesome confinement to a dull regular duty.

(Gobblegheer, Psoralea pinnata, is a member of the pea family which flowers around Christmas time. It is now critically endangered on St Helena with only about 35 plants remaining.[i] A native of South Africa, it is now also found in southern Australia. Was it brought out by the Balcombe family?

This plant has fine deep green linear leaves that are deeply divided with a length of about 40 millimetres (2 in). On St Helena it blooms between October and December with blue, white or lilac flowers which are pea shaped and sweet smelling. They are found in large clusters toward the end of the branches. The seed-pods contain a single dark brown seed.)[ii]

[i] and assistance from the St Helena Mailing list member John Turner, Saint Helena Island via  and Facebook  and [ii]

Mrs Cocks in her way to Longwood called on me today that as now my holidays were begun I would come up and stop at Longwood a few days, and that the Col. Expected to see me at dinner. Accordingly I sent up a box of linen etc & gave May leave to see his friends for 2-3 days. As I intended to take advantage of this opportunity to make as many sketches as I could. After dinner as Col. C. & I were alone. He said he had received my letter & had been reflecting on it & perceived from what I stated of the profits that I had no reason to fear an insolvency. To which I answered that I thought it most prudent to withdraw myself before affairs got to such a pitch, for that then it would be too late, and I saw that B’s manner of going on foreboded nothing else. He said that he thought there was nothing left for me to do but to separate, & approved of my plan of taking a certain fixed sum in lieu of dividing the goods.

As I had omitted disclosing to him the worst part of our affairs, & indeed the extent of our debts, I saw that he began to think they were not so bad as he had supposed, but his first apprehensions were but too well founded, and I only told him that something seemed to tell me that there was a danger in being connected with such an irregular man as B. He thought I could not do anything else than quit him.

He wished me to think of taking the situation of Marine Storekeeper here, & advised me to get myself appointed Agent for Supplying the King’s ships here, but I did not tell him that that was a thing I had already written home about.

I cannot —-mentioning a curious specimen of the ignorance of the St Helenians. After dinner Miss Roberts who passes herself off for a learned young lady and one rather above the generality in information, remarked (as the approach of Christmas brought up the subject of Christians) that the Hindoos thought themselves as good Christians as we were. Col C. Asked her if the thought that the Mussulmen [an archaic word for Muslim] thought themselves Christians she said “no doubt they did, for does not everyone think their own religion is best;” She absolutely did not know that a Christian meant a follower of Christ, but thought that it meant a good man in general, or that the word was equivalent to the word good: as appeared to her from such expressions as “To act like a Christian; Christian benevolence etc etc.

29 December 1807 Tuesday. I sent Mr. B. An answer to his letter of 23rd. I found myself unwell today & attributed to my over fatigue in the country.

Wednesday. This morning Col. C. Sent Cruikshank to tell me that he expected me to ride up with him to Longwood to dinner: but almost immediately after he wrote for me not to come till early tomorrow; as B had just been with him and offered to ride with him to Longwood on his way home. Cruikshank then asked me to dine with him but I refused and proposed for him to dine with me; which he did and stopped till nine. He is a person I really do not feel much inclined to admire, & I suspect he puts himself off to be a greater man than he really is. He pays very attentive??? to Col. C. And even imitates his manners, liking & disliking whoever he does. I think he is of a bad temper.


March 23 This is now the rain season and the air feels moist. The rocks which all the rest of the year have been brown now look green with Purslane &c. The Purslane supplies my table with 2 dishes one when it is boiled and is like spinach, the other an excellent salad.

Purslane or Purslain (a type of Parsley) grew freely over the Island and still does to this day. When William Balcombe bought The Briars its first name on the Island had been Parsley Hill Beds as far back as 1678. The Briars name was given to the property in 1739.[80] It was abandoned as a Government estate and passed into private hands.[81]

In late March of this year sixteen more horses were brought to the Island via the Brig called Three Brothers with Captain Hall. They were no doubt to add to the herd on the Island which was meant to have been improved by the importation of an Arabian Stallion for the exorbitant price of £400 in 1793.[82] Horses had originally been left to roam on the Island prior to 1656 as Peter Mundy a Cornish sailor who then visited the island for the third time, saw four horses in Chapel valley doubtless left here by the Hollanders to increase for provision.[83] In 1666 Rennefort saw horses so wild that when they were pursued to the ends of the island they threw themselves off the rocks into the sea rather than be caught.[84]

April 16th Brig The Three Brothers which was going to Rio Janerio [sic] and gave him a commission to get collected for me every possible kind of seeds from the Brazils.

Was the Captain Hall of the Three Brothers the same Hall who many years later ended up swindling Balcombe and Captain Weldon from their money for the Bengal canvas sent to Rio Janeiro as reported in a London Court case? That Balcombe was prepared to bend the trading rules and regulations was illustrated by this court case taken against him well after the event. In the Court of the King’s Bench, Guildhall, before the Lord Chief Justice, an action was taken by Captain Weldon against William Balcombe “for money had and received“. There was also a court for receiving, as agent, the goods of the plaintiff and refusing to account to him for the same. Balcombe had been appointed by HEIC ship’s Captain Weldon as agent with instructions to auction 120 bolts of Bengal canvas and if he didn’t receive the price of £4 10s per bolt any remaining were to be sent to Mr. J Damioc at the Cape of Good Hope. Mr. Balcombe sold 80 bolts at the price demanded but finding no purchaser for the remaining 40 he consigned them to a gentleman named Hall at Rio Janeiro, not the Cape, where they were disposed of for just £2 1s. But Hall did not pay Balcombe what was owed on the bales, so it was contended that as Balcombe had departed from the instructions, by sending the bales to Rio not the Cape, he should therefore be liable to pay the amount owing to the vendor. However Captain Weldon had written a letter of instructions which recommended to Mr. Balcombe, that failing a purchaser in St Helena, to send the canvas as Portuguese to Mr. Damioc at Cape Town, the reason being that Bengal canvas would not be admitted to Cape Town. The only way to circumnavigate the law and pass the bolts as being Portuguese was for them to arrive from Rio. However Hall had sold the bolts in Rio and some other goods and refused to pay either Weldon or Balcombe. He knew that neither could succeed in recovering the proceeds respectively due to them as they were seen as colluding to evade the British Navigation Laws. The whole transaction was illegal and no proceeding at law could be maintained upon it.[85]

Despite many rumours and Burchell’s comments over the years, this is the only specific ‘evidence’ which appears to confirm that William Balcombe was willing to bend the rules to suit his own pocket … on the other hand he was just following his client’s written instructions.


In April 1808 Burchell continued his diary with the hope that Lucia was actually travelling out to St Helena on a store ship.

April 9th I made a very anxious enquiry for newspapers as I hoped I might be able to see a list of passengers by the storeships.

April 10th I have never yet understood the telegraph signals though they are extremely simple, but in 10 minutes I learnt the whole system of it. My anxiety to understand the signals announcing a store ship would not suffer me to remain ignorant any longer and the pleasure I shall have at seeing the signals will be great.

He didn’t have long to wait – a week later he wrote

April 17th The two store ships arrived …

and with them his fiancée Isabella Lucia Green.



News had quickly circulated among the islanders that Mr. Burchell’s fiancée was arriving with the fleet. Invitations were dispatched and arrangements for the wedding were busily organised. However the plans made and anticipation felt by Burchell were to receive a devastating blow. Lucia announced she had changed her mind, she was not going to marry Burchell but was to marry the Ship’s Captain Luke Dodds, a man twenty three years her senior. [86]

Was Burchell so naïve that he had not contemplated the possibility that Lucia could have changed her mind about marrying him. She was just a child when he had last seen her in England two years earlier; even now she was only around 18 years old. Surely he also knew that time could change her feelings. However they had probably exchanged many letters over that time and she had excitedly set off on the ship to reunite with him so it appears that neither of them had contemplated the possibility of a shipboard romance.

Burchell himself must have known that on the confines of small ships on long voyages that such romances occurred and that they could have serious consequences. Worried parents issued daughters with clear instructions on how to avoid romantic entanglements: one could hold a gentleman’s arm for a walk on deck but care was to be taken with the topics of conversation; card games were to be avoided and wine was to be drunk in moderation.

Chaperones were often employed to oversee the single young women. Captains could be most vigilant but even so attachments would spring up amongst the young people on board, sometimes not just among the single members of each sex.

However Captains themselves were not always innocent of these liaisons… some had even been known to duel with rivals for a young lady’s affections, sometimes with fatal results. [87]

Luke Dodds himself was obviously guilty of such a liaison. As the ship’s Captain entertaining the passengers at dinner he would have known from their conversation that Lucia was traveling to join her fiancé… had their mutual attraction ruined Lucia’s life or would the affair result in marriage?

When the wedding was cancelled the Island would have been abuzz with gossip and speculation which would have been intolerable to the sensitive person that was William Burchell.

Naturally Burchell was devastated by Lucia’s announcement and her news did nothing to appease his increasing distance from William and Jane Balcombe, Lucia’s relatives. He was too distraught to write to tell his parents of her betrayal so asked that they spoke with Mr. Lane, a person to whom he had poured out his heart, would could give them the details.

Island of St Helena   29 April 1808

My Dearest Parents

My mind is at present not in a state to allow me to describe to you my feelings but the Gentleman who will give you this is Mr. Lane of whom, even from a short acquaintance I have conceived the highest opinion and on whose word and honor [sic] I am sure you may fully rely; therefore I leave it to him to give you an account of all things here as he is acquainted with every circumstance and as I have opened to him all my sentiments.

May God bless you and all my dear family.

Your most dutiful and affectionate son

Wm J Burchell

When he arrived back in England Mr. Lane sent a note to the Burchell family.

Sir I am at the Rainbow Coffee house, King Street, Covent Garden where I shall be happy to see you   Yr obedt hble servt     Keith Lane

Burchell obviously had difficulty understanding Lucia’s behaviour and it would not be helped by knowing she was still on the Island. The ‘stop-over’ was much longer than usual and one can only speculate that it was deliberate on the part of Captain Dodds to give everyone time to sort out their true feelings. He could have whisked Lucia away to the Cape without her having the time to come to terms with her emotions. She had not seen Burchell for two years and for Lucia, still in her teens and flattered by the attentions of the Captain, the infatuation could in fact have proved fleeting.

Burchell was distraught writing in his diary

April 30th   My prospect and mode of life being now so suddenly changed I made a constant struggle to accommodate my mind to it.

It was a couple of weeks after the arrival of the store ship that Burchell himself was able to finally pen a note for his parents.

Island of St Helena 5 May 1808

My dear Parents

I hope you have seen Mr. Lane of the True Briton and have heard the distressing state of my mind when he sailed. I have at last by the assistance of Heaven, made use of all my reason and now begin to think I shall survive it all. It has indeed been a dreadful struggle but for the sake of my dear family I made it and thank God have succeeded. The Walmer Castle with its infamous Captain has not yet sailed. That wretched deluded Girl glories in the blackest ingratitude and conducts herself in a manner that you would not be able to think possible. She seems lost to shame and every feeling sentiment. Her relations declare she is a disgrace to their family: she refuses the authority of her aunt whom she seldom is with, and shamefully passes every moment of her time with that villain, whose only design seems that of bringing her infamy and dishonour. Vengeance will overtake him. He has persuaded her to go with him to the Cape to which she has readily agreed and nothing will retain her here but force, which perhaps her relatives will resort to. She would go under the nominal protection of Mr. and Mrs Pringle (her fellow passengers) on whom she must have grossly imposed by some false representations.

I who thought myself the most unfortunate of mortals, now, with the greatest gratitude to Heaven for its watchful care of my fate feel myself a most fortunate young man in having been thus so miraculously snatched from the very brink of an abyss of misery by the timely discovery of that unhappy girl’s undeservingness. An affection like mine is not easily done away but my only dependence is on God that he will give me the strength of reason to overcome it and at last to completely eradicate it. I am now up in the country for a few days with the hope that the tranquility and seclusion of the scene may assist in restoring peace and ease to my wounded mind. I live to enjoy much true happiness in the bosom of my dear family whose affection for me is the pleasing prospect that leads me on, And that you all may be preserved in happiness and health till we meet again I most anxiously pray. Farewell and God bless you.

Your most dutiful and affectionate son

Wm J Burchell


1808 May 11 … in the Island, the horridly ungrateful, unfeeling & depraved conduct of L towards me & the villainy of Captn Dodds. Having set this story on foot, poor Pyke returned, with his mind much relieved, and we continued till 10 o’clock in conversation nearly on the same subject. In Pyke’s absence B. told me that Mr. Pringle, as Company’s agent at the Cape, had written a letter to Col. Lane, requesting leave for L. to go with them to the Cape, which letter was brought to B. by Knipe, the Aid de Camp, who wanted B. to sign some papers giving his leave for L. to go, this B. tells me he refused to do, but at the same time told Knipe that he did not care what she did; she might go where she pleased; he should not prevent her. However I much suspect that he afterwards did give some sufficient leave for her to go, or it could be hardly possible that Mr. Pringle would venture to assist a young girl in a manner by force, in running away from her friends.

Walmer Castle, the ship on which Lucia had arrived and of which Luke Dodds was Captain stayed at St Helena for close to four weeks, interminable weeks for Burchell and no doubt very tense weeks for the Balcombes. It was on the 12th May that the ship was due to sail to The Cape. The Company records show Miss Lucia Green was accompanying Mr. and Mrs Pringle to the Cape of Good Hope at no expense to the Company, with the date of permit or order 28 April.[88]

Burchell knew the date the Walmer Castle was sailing and wrote

12 Thursday All this morning my mind was dreadful tortured, for at noon L. was irrevocably to leave me and in this most cruel and barbarous manner to terminate my dreams of happiness with her. I still could not help hoping that when it came to the last trial, she might feel some secret inward horror at her conduct & treatment to one whom she has misled by teaching him to rely, on her affection & her honour; & that the baseness of her ingratitude would suddenly flash across her mind & make her relent, and with penitence, solicit my forgiveness. But in this reliance of there being one spark of sensibility & virtue in her heart, I was woefully deceived. For I find that her heart was so callous to every sentiment of feeling or humanity, that she absolutely quitted St Helena with all the levity and gaiety of a girl going down a country dance; tho. B. since has told me that till she & Captain Dodds had got safe into the boat she confessed herself to be under great apprehensions that I should just at the last moment commit some dreadful act of revenge upon them; she observed to B. that Captain D was hastening downward to the beach in great agitation, dreading every moment to see me, and meet some desperate act of mine. But they alarmed themselves needlessly, for the most torturing agony & distress was at that time preying upon me and smothered every other… sentiment.

His diary continued

Rode with B. into the Country to stop; for I found it now necessary to take some care of myself as my late distress of mind had so much weakened me, that a serious kind of cough was wearing my lungs & alarmed me. So as to make me now set about repairing my health which has lately much suffered.

14 Saturday. I walked much of this morning. Made two sketches at the Country house.

16 Monday. Returned to town; in the afternoon took a walk to the Botanic garden; which was the first time I had been out in the Valley since the unfortunate 22nd of April.

On 4 July 1808 the new Governor, Alexander Beatson arrived on the Island [89] His wife was pregnant and their first child born on the island, a son, arrived in October.[90] They were to become friends of the Balcombes. Even Burchell wrote he was much pleased with Col. Beatson’s manners, no doubt because he set him the task of surveying the whole Island.

who seemed to be resolved to do everything for the improvement of the Island & had ordered him to commence a survey & plan of all the lands. Mr. Brooke sent me a copy of his History of St Helena.

A couple of days later Balcombe dined with Burchell and appeared to let slip a secret he had guarded closely for a long time.

1808 July 6. Balcombe dined with me; he mentioned that it had been said to Mr. Tyrwhitt that it was reported that B. was a son of the Prince of Wales and that Mr. T desired B. to contradict such a report. By my letters I learn that he is the son of a poor fisherman of Brighton who was drowned & the Prince hearing of the distressed state of the widow desired Tyrwhitt to take care of the two children who were then very young. But it seems that B. encouraged this report, if not set it on foot.

Is this a true report from Burchell or was he trying to disparage his former friend. What does Burchell mean by writing ‘by my letters’, who were they from? Whatever the situation it appears that Balcombe and Burchell still had some contact, were even able to dine peaceably together; their relationship probably improved after they dissolved the business partnership, so that specific tension eased and it is likely there was sympathy on Balcombe’s part for the way in which Burchell had been treated by his niece Lucia Green.

In July neither Balcombe nor Burchell had received any letters from the Cape.[91] Trade must have been slack.

7 July Thursday. Yesterday evening Mrs Beatson received the introductory visits of ladies of the island. Mrs Balcombe did not go being within a few days of her time for laying in.

Mrs Balcombe’s ‘laying in’ produced their first son William born on 23 July 1808. What joy they would have felt to have a boy after three daughters, and after the heartbreaking loss of both Mary and the stillborn baby to the measles epidemic. Mrs Balcombe and Mrs Beatson both had babies very close to each other and no doubt this would help forge their friendship.[92] Young William was baptised on 11 December 1808. [93]

13 September 1808 In the evening I went to pay my first visit to Mrs Patterson …. and our interview and conversation, though short, reminded me so forcibly of past times when I was in hope of happiness that I could scarcely resist tears. I soon took my leave and walked on the terrace where my tears flowed without restraint.

So poor Burchell was obviously still dreadfully hurt by the behaviour of his former fiancée five months before. However he retained contact with her family as one day in late November he took a walk with Balcombe when they came across some introduced wildlife.

My dog first caught a large rat that B mistook for a young rabbit and then a young rabbit of which B says there was formerly a much greater plenty on the Island.

Close to a year after the break with Lucia, William Burchell finally wrote to his family that he was slowly regaining his spirit but he obviously remained very bitter. In fact he never did marry over his long life. [94] His loss would not be helped by witnessing the happy weddings of several people he knew and mentioned in his diary over the years, Francis Seale in 1805, John Barnes in 1807, William Brabazon in 1807, Henry Porteus and Mary Knipe in 1808, Henry Pritchard in 1808, Richard Barker and Ann Seal in 1809, Jno Cruickshanks in 1809, Captain Hodson in 1810. In fact on 31st May 1810 he loaned his horse to Mr. Jones so he could ride to the country church to marry ‘young Dick Knipe to Hannah Legg’.[95]


Island of St Helena 8 March 1809

My Dearest Mother

I have at last received letters from home. The consolation they have afforded me in again, as it were, hearing my family speak, has made me almost forget my distress. Never have I before been so sensibly convinced of the powerful virtue there is in the affection and esteem of one’s family. I felt my spirit drooping and thought that Fate had nothing left that could smother the disagreeable recollection of the past, but your dear affectionate letter has already half healed my deep wounded feelings, and I feel my misfortunes become lighter and begin to hope that it is possible at some future day I shall be able to laugh at all my disappointments.

Besides I ought to remember that troubles are the certain lot of all who come into the world and I am ashamed that I have not yet had resolution enough to withstand their influence on my spirits. But I am gaining fresh strength and feel myself inspired with additional fortitude from having read your letters. (I mean that written on the 8th June by way of the Cape of Good Hope). I have for a long while had all those sentiments which you wish one to have: as you will perceive by the different letters I have since that time written and in which also you will find all particulars explained and answers to all the questions you have now asked me. The recollection of those diabolical affairs rouses in me so violent a degree of indignation that I must quit the subject; especially as I find nothing left to be added to what I have already written respecting them.

I know not how to express the degree of gratitude I feel for so kind a mother but I hope my future life will shew [sic] it; for I trust I shall never lose an opportunity of proving myself a dutiful and affectionate son. I am without ceasing, praying that God may grant you health and the utmost present and future happiness and with this prayer I conclude.

May God bless you, my Good Mother

I remain ever your affectionate and dutiful

Wm J Burchell

Despite no longer being involved in running the business, Burchell kept tabs on what Balcombe was doing. On 20 May 1809 he reported

Balcombe received back a bill for £600 protested. This is the Bill he paid to Dr Lane in April 1808. He at the same time received and protested at the bill in favour of Tappenden for £150 which the Purser of Chief Mate of The Cuffnells was now authorised to receive.

In June he reported that his slave May had gone fishing so he had dined at the Balcombes and remarked that Balcombe had knocked up the retail shop. The shop, shown in this photograph taken in 2010, was the two storey building ‘The Star’, and next door is the three storey building which in 2010 was the ‘Post Office’.


By 10 July 1809 Walmer Castle with its hated Captain Dodds was again in St Helena waters, on the way back to England.[96] Burchell must have known the ship was berthed and Balcombe must have made contact with Capt Luke Dodds to enquire about Lucia and his intentions towards her… it appears she was not on the ship.

On 14 July 1809 Burchell wrote to his sister Caroline

I am very grateful for your kindness in the trouble you have taken in giving the extracts respecting Indigo, Cotton and Coffee. But whatever I might have felt at the time of requesting that information yet I now feel all that ardour and enthusiasm completely damped by the illiberal treatment and lukewarm encouragement I have met with.

Two days later he wrote to his mother that

Part of your letter is occupied with a subject that I shall not disgust you by mentioning again for you will rejoice in finding from my other letters that the schemes of iniquity have not prospered that the villain has left the base wretch in the lurch.

So Burchell appears to be pleased that Lucia has apparently been left ‘in the lurch‘. He would have been shocked when his former fiancée turned up on St Helena again, in August 1809. Lucia must have travelled with Captain Dodds for several months after leaving St Helena in April 1808. We know from the records in the St Helena archives, and Farrington’s ships logs, that after leaving the island Walmer Castle arrived at the Cape on 31 May 1808, then sailed onto Benkulan 13 July, Penang 18 September, Whampoa on 8 November, Second Bar on 5 March 1809, Penang 30 March, St Helena 10 July and home to the Downs on 8 September 1809.[97]

Lucia returned to St Helena still as Miss Green on 5 August 1809 having travelled on the ship Warley under Captain William Augustus Montagu. So when had Lucia left Dodds and where had she been staying? It seems likely that she stayed for some time on the ship with Captain Dodds. Walmer Castle went to some of the same ports as Warley, the coinciding ones were Penang, Whampoa and Second Bar when both ships arrived on 5 March 1809. [98] So either Lucia had remained somewhere in lodgings in China or she moved from Walmer Castle straight onto the ship Warley to return to St Helena.

‘Miss L. Green’, was subsequently listed with her cousin young ‘Miss Jane Balcombe’ as passengers on HMS Lion, the voyage to England to be ‘at no expense to the Company’. [99] It is likely that Jane was on her way to school in England and to catch up with relatives. Burchell was aware Lion was in port, she had been at the island since 7 July when the China fleet had come in but had been ordered to stay back when that fleet had sailed for home and she was to escort the next fleet home. In his diary Burchell remarked that Lion came in from a cruise on 25th October. A month later the fleet was ‘off by noon‘ on 20th November.

So it looks as though Lucia was staying at Jamestown, from the arrival of Warley on 5 August to the departure of Lion on 20 November 1809. Nearly four months was a long time to be on the small island and one can only surmise it was inevitable that Lucia Green and William Burchell ran into each other.

Burchell must surely have heard via the Balcombe family that only six months after leaving St Helena, the marriage finally took place between Isabella Lucia Green and Captain Luke Dodds at St Peters and Pauls, Lingfield, County Surrey on 29 May 1810. Dodds was over twenty years older than Lucia, being born in 1768 in Jarrow, County Durham to ‘a seaman in the country trade‘.

From his many trips in service of the HEIC, Captain Dodds would have been a wealthy man. He started as a seaman on Sulivan on her voyage to Madras and China from 1785-1786, then became Quarter Master on General Coote from 1787-1788 on her voyage to Madras and China. Subsequently he became a Gunner’s Mate on Royal Charlotte(3) from 1789-1790, another trip via St Helena to China before promotion to First mate to the West Indies for 7 months then boatswain from 1792-1793. He was First Mate again to the West Indies then 3rd mate on Royal Charlotte (5) from 1795-1796, another trip to China. [100]

He then began his long career on Walmer Castle, being first mate on voyages from 1798-1799, 1801-1802 and 1803-1804. He then assumed the Captaincy for 4 voyages, December 1805 to August 1807 Bombay and China, October 1807 to November 1809 for St Helena, Cape of Good Hope, Benkulen and China, calling in at St Helena 17 April 1808 and 10 July 1809. He continued sailing on Walmer Castle for a few years after his marriage… October 1810 to September 1812, to St Helena, Benkulen and China and December 1812 to October 1814 to the Cape and China, recorded as being berthed in Cape Town from 15 to 24 June 1813 en route to China.[101]

On 16 February 1813 Luke Dodds Commander of Walmer Castle was granted Letters of Marque and Reprizals for apprehending, seizing and taking Ships, Vessels and Goods belonging to the United States of America. [102]

When ashore Captain Dodds was well respected in his local community, being sworn in as a member of the Grand Jury for several Hampshire Assizes. He was a Commissioner to Supply Vacancies in the list of Income Tax Commissioners and a signatory requesting John Fleming to be member for the Southern Division of Hampshire. [103]

Luke and Lucia went on to have two children, a son and a daughter. Their son Henry Luke Dodds, born 1811, attended Christ Church at Oxford University, receiving his Bachelor of Arts in June 1836, a Master of Arts in 1838 and was ordained as a Priest in 1839.[104] He became an Anglican Minister and did not marry. In later years William Balcombe’s daughter Betsy Balcombe-Abell, by then living back in England, wrote to her brother Alexander in Australia that she often heard from and saw their Cousin Henry Dodds, remarking that his Preaching was so much esteemed that he was wanted by the Bishop of London to be one of the Lent Preachers at a Metropolitan Church, commenting that he had always been a very fervent Christian. [105]

The daughter of Lucia and Luke Dodds, born in 1815, was called Lucia after her mother. She married Royal Navy Flag-Lieutenant Graham Eden William Hamond in December 1843.[106] (He was the younger son of Admiral Sir Graham Eden Hamond, Bart, KCB, a Rear-Admiral of the White.[107]) They too had a daughter, named Elizabeth Anne and a son, another Graham Eden Hamond (1846-1872), who became an officer in the 7th Hussars.

Sadly the younger Lucia Dodds-Hamond was widowed when she was in her early thirties, in 1847 when her husband GEW Hammond, was killed in battle as commander of HM steam Sloop of war Medea at Woolwich.[108] Less than two years later her father, Captain Luke Dodds died aged 80 in February 1849.

Isabella Lucia Dodds lived to the ripe old age of 90 and she died on 6 November 1878 at The Vicarage, Great Glen, Leicester.[109] This was the home of her son Henry Luke who two years before had been the inspiration for almost entirely rebuilding the local church of St Cuthbert’s. [110]

In 1881 the census showed Lucia Hamond was living with her daughter Elizabeth Anne, son-in-law the Reverend John Henry Goode, Vicar of Hyth in Hampshire and grandson Cecil Henry Brent Goode. [111] She died in Brighton in 1883 aged 68.[112]

So Lucia Green-Dodds’ family line continued forward but William Burchell’s did not as sadly he never married.



On 27 January 1810 Burchell received a letter with an invitation from Lord Caledon to see if he would accept the position of Botanist at the Cape Colony. Later in the year he met Mr. Hancke who was to be Botanist to the Prince Regent at the Brazils and to be superintendent of Botanic Gardens at the Cape. By mid April Burchell was making plans to quit the Island.

1810 9th March I made an excursion to Diana’s Ridge… B did not return from the Valley till dark when we dined… In conversation I told him that the Governor had not thought proper to employ me in any useful service, I was resolved not to receive any more salary till he did. He made some weak excuses for the Governor, but I argued that he had left me in the lurch and that now I was so completely disgusted with St Helena that I did not believe I should ever receive any more of the Company’s money.

So Burchell blamed Balcombe for the loss of money resulting from their dissolved partnership and by now he would have realised he was not going to be reimbursed. In addition Burchell was also in conflict with the HEIC Governor who had not given him an official position even though he was receiving some sort of salary, but one not appropriate in Burchell’s eyes.

There were frequent visits to the island by large fleets of ships. On 21 April a fleet of half a dozen Navy ships, a storeship and 32 sail of transports with land forces on board, called into St Helena to replenish their water and a few weeks later, on 12 May 1810 a fleet of 22 East Indiamen anchored in The Roads. This day the wind was so high that several came in contact, considerable damage was done with Europe and Walhamstow blown back out to sea.[113] The chaos would have made for spectacular viewing from the hills above James Town.

Although the previous Governor of St Helena, Mr. Patton, had sent overseas for Chinese labourers to work on the Island, they did not arrive until Governor Beatson’s time in the first half of 1810. In HEIC record book 109 an entry dated 25 May 1810 listed a bill for clothing supplied to 10 Chinamen on their passage from China to St Helena showed 10 blue cloth jackets cost £9.5.0 each and 10 blue cloth trousers were £5.15.0 each. The fleet arrived on 22 May 1810 so the Chinese migrants must have been on board. It was only a month later that Governor Beatson reported there being 54 Chinese on the island and they were to work at Plantation Farm cultivating the land and growing food for cattle and the people.[114] The cost of each man was £28 per annum. Beatson thought they were the best we can have in aiding English Farmers in the practice of husbandry. However they soon developed a good ‘trade’ with the slaves who would steal goods which the Chinese would then buy. Shortly after Napoleon’s arrival on St Helena in October 1815 an entry in the HEIC records states that the Chinese shed at Longwood has at last been thatched and is now dry.[115]

We have no record of Balcombe employing these indentured labourers… or were they meant to be free settlers? We know he had slaves working for him, and we know he had an extensive market garden at The Briars which yielded an income of around £500 each year. [116]

On Friday the 13th of May in 1808 Balcombe

was all this morning at the police office before Leech for having detained a slave on this island, contrary to the Company’s orders, & for this offence, Leech fined him £50.[117]

Slaves were bought and sold under an old tree in the Castle gardens, near Mr. Porteus’ house. Governor Brookes banned their importation in 1792 but already half the island’s population were slaves. [118]

According to the India Office records and Church records in the Jamestown Archives, [119] Mr. and Mrs (William) Balcombe had several slaves during the time frame 1805-1818: Priscilla slave of Mr. Chamberlain married George Christopher, slave of Mr. Balcombe. Richard William and Ann, slave to Mrs Balcombe had three children baptised, Charles William, James Henry and Sarah Martha. Robert was a son born to Mary, slave to Mr. Balcombe and there was also the slave Toby, their gardener who became a favourite of Napoleon. None of them were born after 25 December 1818 (when children were born free but apprenticed until the age of 16 or 18) so all remained slaves after that date.

The Company brought over Chinese tradesmen such as carpenters, stonecutters and stone masons and no doubt Balcombe would have made use of their expertise in his store and brewery. There were also blacksmiths so all the riding and carriage horses would be able to be shod more readily with this influx of smiths.

After Balcombe left St Helena there were certainly Chinese men working the Mulberry trees behind their huts in the area of The Briars and it was also reported that on 4 August 1819 the 700-800 Chinese began a bloody riot during Napoleon’s time on the island with a dispute erupting between the Macau Chinese and those from Canton. [120]

Burchell wrote

1810 May 1st Having kept my letter open till the last moment waiting for the bills Balcombe was to send my Father, I was surprised at a note I received from him and I answered severely.

So the conflict between Balcombe and Burchell still continued and this diary entry suggests Balcombe should have arrived with Bank notes or promissory notes, equivalent to our modern cheques, to reimburse Mr. Burchell Senior.

On 8th August Burchell had arranged with an agent to find him passage on a ship to the Cape. He met with someone, (whose name was removed by his sister) advising

I just related to him the circumstances of B’s being arrested at Ryde and my Father’s being his bail.

On 21st August Burchell moved out of the School house, returning the keys a few days later to Major Hodson. Rather than return to England he had decided to go to The Cape as he was offered passage on the brig Harriet with Captain Waldo. He spent a few days taking his leave of all his friends.

His diary record for 9 October reads:

On this day I took my final view of the interior of the beautiful little Island of St Helena, an Island which might be made one of the happiest residences for a lover of rural peace and calm retirement but whose delightful climate is ruffled by no storm but that of the tempers of its inhabitants, jealousies and mutual mistrust, secret slander and perpetual discord, are here let loose, and murder of the tranquil peace and innocent conviviality that ought to be the reigning genii of this delightful spot. But I must leave for ever, those vales and glens, those romantic hills where I could have passed some happy years, yet envious Demons have sullied the beauty of the landscape, have blasted the salubrity of the air, by sowing in the hearts of too many there, a ranking discord that makes its rock a hell indeed.

Poor embittered Burchell went on board the ship to see his accommodation which he commented was not to his liking. However he still decided to go to the Cape as he felt that on the Island he was wasting so much of his time. Six of his trunks were taken on board on 13 October then he returned home to pack up the rest of his belongings, deciding to take many things, even those that he did not really want at the Cape but which he knew would have fetched just half their value on St Helena. On 16 October 1810 he called on various members of the Island’s hierarchy including Messers Beatson, Doveton, Seale, Chadwick, Jones, his good friend Shortis as well as his faithful servant May.[121] He does not appear to have said farewell to the Balcombe family.

William Burchell initially went to South Africa and undertook many trips studying the flora and fauna. He recognised a new species of zebra, Equus burchelli, the Plains Zebra, and the square lipped or White Rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum.[122] He wrote two volumes on his travels in Africa as he journeyed into the hinterland and then into the interior from 1811-1815. He sailed from Cape Town on 25 August 1815 and spent three weeks on St Helena on his way back to England. [123] He appears to have missed the arrival of Napoleon on the island and we can only wonder if he caught up with the Balcombe family at this time.

A sister of William John Burchell, Sarah, married John Hunt Butcher and they settled in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in 1822, living at Lowlands Park Farm, Richmond, Coal River. One son born in 1826, was named Edward William Burchell Butcher after his esteemed uncle. He in turn married in 1853 and had several children. William Burchell’s brother George married Susan Butcher and they became farmers in Surrey but one daughter migrated to join her aunt and uncle in Australia so there are many Burchell descendents in Australia to this day.[124]



William Balcombe and his family continued to live on St Helena and on 1 July 1811 he bought The Briars for £3000 from John Charles Dunn in instalments of £200 every year from 1 July 1811 and interest at 7½% to be paid twice yearly on 1 January and 1 July until the principal was repaid. [125] The estate was originally a small unproductive government area known as Puslain Beds or Parsley Bed Hill in 1678 [126] and was sold into private ownership in 1739 when the name changed to The Briars. [127] With the house was the

Puslain [sic] Beds containing twenty acres of Free Land and Seventeen and a half acres of Lease Land with the good dwelling house erected thereon.[128]

In June 1810 Mrs Balcombe had given birth to a son Thomas Tyrwhitt who was baptised in the church in October, the same year that Mrs Beatson gave birth to a daughter. Mrs Balcombe then had another son, named Alexander Beatson after the governor, who was born in August 1811. In May 1812 Mrs Beatson had another daughter and on 21 June 1813 William Balcombe’s in-laws, Teavil and Elizabeth Leason became parents again… their daughter Isabella had been baptised in Beverley, Yorkshire in 1804 [129] but sadly their young son Robert, born on St Helena, only survived three weeks [130] and was buried on 10 July.[131] Around this time Mrs Beatson had another daughter. It would appear that the ladies were all pregnant or caring for small children; they would have been supporting each other and becoming good friends in this isolated community. It would have been a most difficult and worrying time for these ladies when an armed mutiny occurred at Christmas time in 1811.


The mutiny broke out at the Garrison itself. The excuse was a shortage of food such as potatoes and bread. There was no rice and no flour on the island but Governor Beatson sent 20 bushels of potatoes to the Garrison from the Plantation House farm store. However the real trigger to the mutiny seemed to be liquor rationing following

the shamefull excesses that were committed lately after the arrival of 12 cask of rum from the Cape and the great increase in patients in the hospital which immediately followed.

Governor Beatson prohibited the importation of Indian Spirits under any pretence. The landing of higher priced spirits from Europe was sanctioned in limited quantities and with a duty of twelve shillings per gallon.[132] A group of troublemakers sent an anonymous letter to the Governor containing words like oppression, tyranny, open rebellion and impending vengeance which now hangs over your heads. When the Governor left the Castle to ride back to his home Plantation House, he passed graffiti on the Castle gate reading This house to let on Christmas Day and scrawled on the church was A hot dinner and a bloody supper. On this day of the mutiny he bravely rode unarmed up the main street of James Town, stopping to chat to locals, even passing some of the mutineers. (He did not know that Dr Baildon was following at a discrete distance carrying a weapon). Beatson had given orders to the Town Major to take charge of Ladder Hill and other loyal officers received their orders. At Longwood the mutineers captured the Deputy Governor Colonel Broughton.

Beatson arranged a garrison of 130 men inside Plantation House. His pregnant wife and children were placed in security against musketry upstairs. Captain Barnes, Sampson and Desfountaine and Major Kinnaid and troops were inside Plantation House but Beatson had every right to be suspicious of some troops who had volunteered to protect him as at least one, Archibald Nimmo, was one of the mutineers. Over 200 men started the mutiny, but by next morning, on 24 December, only 75 remained and they eventually surrendered. On Christmas Day a General Court Martial was held and nine ringleaders were tried with the charge of Mutiny. Privates Thomas Berwick, Archibald Nimmo, Henry Sissell, Robert Anderson, Corporals Arthur Smith, Thomas Edgeworth, of the St Helena Regiment, were found guilty and all were hung at sunset. Peter Wilsey, John Seagar and Richard Kitchen were remitted. The next day three others were tried and one by the name of Hewit was hung.

Alexander Beatson wrote a detailed account of the events in the military orders he compiled. In his report dated 4 January 1812 he also wrote to the Court of Directors of the Company

there are still some others whose merits and important services I could not properly introduce in military orders, and which I am no less bound in duty than in gratitude to bring to the particular notice of your Honourable Court. These are some valuable friends (Doctor Baildon, Messrs Jones, Brabazon, Balcombe and Hollis) who voluntarily came forward to support me in the hour of danger: and on whose zeal for the public service, as well as personal attachment, I had the most perfect reliance. …. The Rev Samuel Jones, Mr. Brabazon, Mr. Balcombe and Mr. Hollis have also rendered essential service; for as my person was the object of the mutineers, and suspecting, as I have before stated, even some of those who came to assist me, I deemed it prudent not to run the hazard of seizure, by placing myself between suspected troops and the mutineers who were advancing: not to trust the communication of orders except to confidential persons. These gentlemen eagerly and anxiously assisted in conveying, in the most punctual manner, the orders I had occasion to give on the night of the 23rd: and were also from that time a strong acquisition to my guard during the whole period of the mutiny; being well armed and always ready to support me to the last extremity. They have accordingly re-established their claims to my public acknowledgements and thanks, as well as to the favourable consideration of your Honourable Court, for their distinguished loyalty and zeal in the cause of this government. [133]

1812 – 1814

In 1812, whilst Napoleon was invading Russia with 423,000 men and 1150 cannons[134], Balcombe was enjoying a quieter life on St Helena…. the mutiny was a far less horrendous ordeal. No doubt a friendship was sealed between the men as a result of the mutiny but in April 1812 the Reverend Mr. Jones complained that it was an insult to be noted as the Inspector of Common Sheep and Goats.[135] The job was given to Mr. Balcombe who no doubt would have been happy with the position as he would then have been able to keep a close eye on potential purchases to feed his clients.

According to Beatson, the census taken in 1812 found St Helena was home to 1150 slaves belonging to individuals, 89 were owned by the Company and 448 were Free Blacks, a total of 1687 which was in increase of 148 in the nine years since the last census. There were about half the number of Whites, a total of 582 with 110 men, 152 women, 147 boys and 173 girls. Cattle numbers were 1494 with 36 bulls, 543 cows, 407 calves, 86 yearlings, 201 heifers, 133 steers which suggests that some fresh meat should have been available on the Island. There were 6005 acres of land with 2205 acres free, 3799 under lease. Beatson also noted that Chinese labourers numbered 270 ‘able men’ in 1813. [136]

The Proclamation of Agricultural Improvement was issued on 3 January 1813 when several people were deserving of particular notice for adding 91 acres of cultivate land since November 1810. William Balcombe’s name was not included in this list. Was he already producing crops on The Briars estate but had not extended his area of land under cultivation?

In 2010 there was a large vegetable garden behind The Briars but there was little room for expansion due to the steep nature of the adjacent land. [137] Balcombe could have already been working the land to its capacity, or he could have been classed as one of the people who occupied

extensive farms, have large establishments of servants … still persist in their former habits of inactivity and absolute idleness.[138]

In 1813, two years after his purchase of The Briars, Balcombe was obviously in business with Mr. Mackintosh at this time as, on September 1813, Private Francis Hession of the St Helena Infantry was executed on the Parade Ground near the church

for a burglary in the premises of Messers Balcombe and Mackintosh whilst on duty at the Sea Gate Guard.[139]

William Balcombe involved his two brothers-in-law in the business on St Helena. Thomas Hornsby, was an eminent Stock Broker in London, [140] and their contact in England and Teavil Leason, a former Army Captain who had served on St Helena, then returned to the island with his family. He eventually returned to his home in Yorkshire to become a Gentleman farmer of The Hermitage, South Cave. [141]

On 12 September 1812 Lucia Hornsby of London, sister of Mrs Teavil Leason then on St Helena, wrote to John Robinson, (an Attorney-at-law at the Market Place, South Cave, the home village of Leason) requesting he pay the accounts of various people and advising that her brother-in-law on St Helena had been very sick. She also refers to Teavil’s younger brother Robert, an attorney in partnership with Mr. Walmsley in South Cave, [142] and her tone suggests some conflict.

My Dear Sir

I have the happiness to inform you I have received very comfortable letter from my sister. She tells me Leason has written to you by the same conveyance which prevents my writing more particulars concerning them as they no doubt were written largely to their good friend Mr. Robinson. The reason for my troubling you with this, Dear Sir, is to request the favour of a line to acquaint me if you have the above mention letter and address [?] in turn they are not very comfortable [?] / confidential [?] to send me a Bill for the use of Mrs Leason, likewise to discharge that Bill in turn, they are not very confidential. The stationers John Williams for with £60 17s 3d, Bingley No. 162, Piccadilly, £53 6s 3d, Rawlins, Bond Street, No. 141[?] £7 15s 6d, Mrs Corker, St Paul’s Church Yard[?]/Lndn[?], £1 8s. The above is the amount of all the bills I have except Mrs Southers. If you can send a bill for Mrs Bingley or one to her I then shall be much obliged. She has sent very often for it as discount[?] was taken off to oblige Mrs Leason when in London and of course Mrs Bingley expected her money immediately.

Poor Teavil Leason has been very ill. I feared his recovery, thank God he is now quite well and all the children. Will you do me the kindness to make my best regards to Mrs Leason and tell her the children often speak about her and desire their duty particularly Lucia who is a great favourite of Mrs Clarks. I have not had one line from Mr. Robert Leason. Hope he is well and the poor babe left in York and the grand Clergyman my sister used to regret leaving. Excuse haste … [?] in sent and believe Hornsby and self truly pleased with your present of cheeses. If you wish to write to Leason and will do it, immediately I get your letter sent by a Capt going to the Cape who will forward any letters to St Helena. When shall we have the pleasure of seeing you again? …… I thought to conclude which I do not like. I wish to say much to you Alas!

Farewell dear sir, Yours with regards and esteem

Lucia Hornsby.[143]

On 13 May 1813 Thomas Hornsby wrote from London to John Robinson at South Cave in Yorkshire

Dear Sir,

I have done the needful and send you Bills Paid.

The children are well except Teavil who has a humerus on his head which perhaps flows from the measles but is in a fair way of doing well, it has prevented him from spending a part of his holiday with me. Mrs Hornsby is well and feels highly gratified by your kind enquiry. She requests you will accept her sincere regards and allow me to add mine

I Remain… Truly Yours

Thomas Hornsby.[144]

On 13 May 1813 Hornsby was again writing to Robinson and it appears that selling the estate to cover bills from the business at St Helena was obviously an issue..

Mr. Leason has remitted me Bills £193.14.9. I have paid his Bill of £150 – the second Bill for £200 remains unpaid. I do not conceive you can raise any money in the way suggested by Mr. Leason. I know of no way but disposing the Estate if that can be done at the sum stated £7000. As the sum required is fixed £7000 any opinion of mine (which he seems desirous of me giving you ) is fruitless as you think it is not worth so much. Having again drawn on you I consider it may be advisable to advertise it, but whatever mode you please to adopt I shall acquiesce with.

It is impossible to follow their intentions unless the money can be raised for Mrs Leason has written to her sister to furnish her with as many articles as would come to £1000 and she expects to receive by the first Store Ship the goods she wrote for in her first letter as she says you have paid into my hands £500 which I imagine to be her mistake in the perusal of your letter. The Grand question for our consideration is whether you suppose it will be more to their interest to fulfill their commissions by the Sale of the Estate (in case a purchaser can be found at the stipulated sum of £7000) or to reject complying with their requests.

I remain etc Yours truly

Thos Hornsby. [145]

On 17 August 1813 Teavil Leason wrote to John Robinson at South Cave and advise that he had pulled out of the business partnerships with Balcombe and Macintosh for sending illicit good to the Cape, so this backs up the story of the Court case involving the bolts of Bengal canvas sent to Rio which were supposed to the forwarded to the Cape as Portuguese.

My Dear Sir   I received two letters from you one dated 26th Nov 1812 and the other Dec ? 1812. I perceive by your statement that you have not been able to raise £3000 besides Mr. Clarkes Bond consequently you have not had in your power to pay my brother Bob (Robert Leason attorney in partnership with Mr. Walmsley, South Cave) his £500 interest and expenses which may have occurred on my account – he has wrote me a very distressing unpleasant letter and says he shall employ legal law against to recover his money if I do not send it home by this Fleet – that is not in my power. I have promised he shall have Bills by the Fleet which will sail from hence in about April 1814, he could not get his money before even should he put his threats into execution. I told him I thought you had paid him if you could not raise the cash it was not in your power to settle with him he will shew you that part of your letter.

You will be surprised to hear that I have dissolved partnerships with Balcombe and Macintosh they were too speculative which made me unhappy, they sent illicit goods to the Cape, the vessel was detained which will cost them £4000, besides it has hurt the reputation of Reynolds & Murray the goods being found in their storehouse it is yet unknown what the damages may be to Reynolds & Murray some are of the opinion £7000. I am sorry for them. In my consenting to dissolve the partnership they gave me nearly £2000 one to be paid in six months and the other is to be placed with my input stock which they are obliged to settle and pay off on the 5th day of August 1815, bearing interest at ten percent per annum and good security likewise or promissory Bond in case you should have accepted the Bills for the other £2000 which I hope is not the case. The power you last sent I shall keep in case I should want money or wish to dispose of the farm, you did not mention Power I sent you, tell me in your next whether it is properly made out and if that will answer and of sufficient authority. You will much oblige me if you will send me a statement of my accounts, I imagined by your letter that you had sent Mrs Hornsby £500 and as she did not send the things I wrote for I drew three Bills on Hornsby two of which came back protested. I remitted to Mrs Hornsby by £193..14..9 which being in three make Bills I thought would be very troublesome to you however in future I shall remit them to you. These Bills coming back which I drew on Hornsby of course I was obliged to pay them in Cash and all expenses thereon. I felt hurt that Hornsby would not be answerable for so small a sum. I am sorry there still continues a difference between you and Bob and hope we shall all be merry once more at Cave Fair. (South Cave Fair was an important event in the village year being held on Trinity Monday and Tuesday, the first day was devoted to trade and sale of animals, the second to races and games)[146].

You complain of the cold, and I of the heat,

We are much distressed to hear from Miss Batsford what repeated attacks and what our poor boy has suffered. I fear the air of Fulham does not agree with him, pray when you are in London call in and see him. (This was their son Teavil born 1806 – he later commenced to study Law so we must assume he was then at school in Fulham [147]).

I have a little touch of the liver complaint if it does not get better soon shall be obliged to return to England. Mrs Leason has had an addition to her family, a little boy named Robert, he only lived three weeks. Mrs L desires her best remembrance to your sister and John, Mr. Garnons (the Rev Daniel Garnons, vicar of the village 1783-1817) and friends.

I remain Dear Sir Yours sincerely

Teavil Leason [148]

These letters suggest there is quite a degree on angst between brothers-in-law Balcombe, Hornsby and Leason and that money problems were at the heart of it. (However the families remained close as many years later Mr. Thomas Hornsby, formerly for many years an eminent stock-broker in London, died at South Cave, Yorkshire in April 1828, and in November 1844 his widow Lucia Hornsby also died at South Cave, the home of Teavil Leason.[149] )

It was in August that Teavil Leason pulled out of the business partnership yet just a few months later, on 15 November 1813, Balcombe bought the Naval brewery from Brabazon, paying £6548 plus 10% interest with payments due on 1 December 1814, 1815, 1816 and 1817, each payment to be £1637 plus interest. However on 1 December it looks as if he was unable to meet the mortgage repayments as on that date he sold the Brewery to W & J Burnie, but retained the rights. On 17 August 1814, those rights were assigned to W & J Burnie.[150]

The 1814 census showed the population of the Island to be 736 European, 891 Garrison, 420 Free Blacks, 1293 Slaves and 247 Chinese making a total of 3587 people.[151] The census showed William but no mention of the family (but it was not necessary for them to be counted in detail). He was listed as owning 1 bull, 6 cows, 5 calves, and 8 swine.

He had 20 Blacks in his employ on 30 September.[152] These were his slaves. In March 1812 a slave child belonging to Mr. Balcombe had drowned in a pond.[153]

It is quite chilling to see the Birth and Baptism Register for the Island. There are 26 baptisms listed on page seven of the register, from July to December 1807, including the baptism of eight individuals who are the property of someone and four who are free, for example Louisa, free, Eliza Croft, free, William the property of Patrick Killin, Elizabeth and Jane, both the property of Thomas McRitchie and Eliza the property of Francis Seale. The rest are the son or daughter of a couple and includes William son of William and Jane Balcombe. On a later page (12) is an entry for Margaret, slave of Adam and Isabella Baildon, out of twenty entries, she is the only ‘slave’ but there is a son Richard born to Sam and Belinda (free) Black. This page includes Thomas Tyrwhitt son of William and Jane Wilson Balcombe, born June 15, baptised 22 October 1810. Alexander Beatson born 11 August 1811, is listed on page 16 of the register and cousin Robert Leason born 21 June 1813 is named on page 21.[154]

The Balcombe’s were recorded as having several slave children baptised in the local church: two children of Mr. Balcombe’s slave Mary, her son Robert and daughter Mary Ann were baptised 17 October 1813 (it appears that Mary had died as she was buried on 29 September 1813 and another slave, Jane was buried in July 1817). A boy, Robert Jones whose parents were John and Lavinia, slave to Mr. Balcombe, was baptised in April 1814. Three children of the slaves called Richard William and Ann, who was a slave to Mrs Balcombe, were baptised on 30 October 1814, they were Sarah Martha, James Henry and Charles William. Mary Ann Jones was baptised in July 1815, her parents were Thomas and Louisa, slave to Mr. Balcombe and a marriage took place between George Christopher slaves to Mr. Balcombe, who married Priscilla, slave of Mr. Chamberlain on 24 March 1816. [155]

On 1 June 1814 Balcombe requested leave of absence to go to England, [156] he was advised by the HEIC that if he did not return to St Helena within 12 months, the position of Superintendent of Public Sales would be declared vacant. Did William go to England? From the passenger lists it appears that he actually stayed on the Island to continue his various businesses whilst his family all accompanied the younger William to school in England where no doubt Jane took the opportunity to catch up with her family. There is no mention of Jane or the children in the 1814 census.



In 1815 Mrs Balcombe with her children Thomas, Alexander, Jane and Elizabeth were listed as ‘bond’ passengers (Bond Number 236) in the presidency of St Helena, with £1600 being the amount of security and the Sureties were James Burnie of Old South Sea House, Merchant and Thomas Clerk of the same address, gentleman, with the Court Authority being dated 15 February 1815. [157]

It appears that the family were returning to St Helena after taking the oldest son, William to school in England as it seems from a later letter Mrs Balcombe had a boy over there, under the supervision of Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt.[158] The girls may also have spent time at school and now Mrs Balcombe and the children were returning to St Helena on the HEIC ship Ceres under Captain Hugh Scott being part of the fleet sailing for India having in the passenger list for St Helena the ladies Mistresses Grey, Pritchard, Balcombe and family, and Miss L Blenkins leaving the Downs on 3 April 1815 and arriving on St Helena by 28 May 1815. [159] There was no mention of Mr. Balcombe on the ship so, in the unlikely event that he had also been to England, he had returned on a different vessel.

The records of the East India Company in the Archives at Jamestown, St Helena are beautifully handwritten transcriptions in large books. We would have loved to be able to spend more time perusing them and the copies of letters and shipping records for the island.

From these we have confirmation that William Balcombe was Superintendent of Public Sales from letters addressed to him, for example:

13 March 1815 To Wm Balcombe Esqr Superintendent of Public Sales.

I am directed by the Governor & Council to desire you will apprise them of the name of the person to whom you have transferred the charge of transporting the Sales by Auction in order to prevent any mistakes or inconvenience.

I am further directed to inform you that the ultimate responsibility with regard to the Company’s Sales will rest with you in the event of any failure on the part of those who are entrusted on your behalf with their management.

I am Sir &c. Sig. Thos H Brooke, Secy,   M Wilks, J Skelton, H W Doveton, Robert Leech

He employed a manager called Will Tracy. Was he the same Mr Tracy who was a butcher on the Island and who subsequently made it onto Hudson Lowe’s list of people under suspicion of being likely to smuggle letters off the island for Napoleon. [160]

17th April To Mr. H Brooke Esqr   Secretary

I beg leave to acquaint you for the information of the Worshipful the Governor & Council that Mr. Will Tracy is the person I employ under my own immediate inspection in the Management of Sales by Public Auction and in reply to the latter part of your letter 13th Inst. I am ready to hold myself responsible for any sales of the Hon. Company’s that may be entrusted to me under my own direction.

I am Sir &c.     Sig. W Balcombe

On 19 April the China fleet arrived, they had all left Second Bar on 20 January and Devonshire had managed to arrive 2 days ahead of the main fleet of HMS Grampian and company ships Elphinstone, Castle Huntley, Thomas Grenville, Marquis Huntley, Winchelsea, Wexford and Cabalva.

The arrival of the homeward bound Indiamen was the greatest event of the year. It fills the whole settlement with alacrity and joy. They quit their gardens, flock to James Town, open their houses for the accommodation of the passengers and entertain them with plays, dances and concerts. These gay assemblies are enlivened by presence of many agreeable and handsome young ladies native of the place.[161]

Even today the Saints (or Yamstocks as they call themselves) pack the quay and come to meet the ships to welcome the travellers. In those days of sail it would exciting to see the whole fleet come in and furl their sails and an even more magnificent spectacle to see the East Indiamen in full sail as they left The Roads.

Mrs Balcombe and family, returning from England on Ceres, missed seeing the arrival of the schooner St Helena at Jamestown on 12 January 1815. This ship was placed at the disposal of the local Government to be used to buy stores, particularly from the Cape of Good Hope [162] rather than rely on the fleets of Indiamen. The original vessel for this task, the brig Jolly Tar had been purchased by the HEIC in October 1806 and was in the process of being fitted out in preparation for service when it was taken over by some foreigners, 17 soldiers from the local garrison and three Spanish officers who had arrived from the Cape. They murdered Mr. Sweete the Chief Officer and kidnapped the nine other men on board, the cables were cut and the Jolly Tar was sailed away. After 11 days her crew were put on a Portuguese brig and taken to Rio de Janeiro.[163]

It had taken nearly a decade to replace Jolly Tar with the new custom built vessel to service the island with stores from Cape Town. Called St Helena it was 136 tons, captained by John Augustus Atkinson and brought a cargo of malt from England [164] arriving in The Roads on 12 January 1815. On her first voyage she left the island on 25 January 1815, arriving at the Cape on 19 February. She proved to have insufficient space for the purchased sheep and their fodder, she also carried flour. The return trip saw the mainmast being sprung, quite a serious problem for a sailing ship! She arrived back on the island on 24 March. [165] Lack of foresight and planning on the part of the Governors meant the ship was the wrong shape for those heavy South Atlantic swells, and she was too small to carry all the cargo, but nevertheless she served the Saints faithfully for 15 years.[166]

Balcombe must have taken delivery of some malt as on 22 May he wrote to the Company

The Register Master having applied to me for Duties on the Malt imported on the St Helena Schooner.

I beg leave to acquaint you for the information of the Worshipful Board that the Malt brought out by the Hon. Company’s Schooner St Helena was part of what remained which should have been brought out by the Store Ships at last Season of which Investment there still remains 32 Casks not yet imported.

I beg further to state for the information of the Worshipful Board the naval Brew House was built on the faith of having extended to it the same indulgence that the other Brew houses have experienced the malt in question is part of the Second years supply which the concern had the faith of your Hon. Board to have landed here free of Expense. By the Agents letter dated 27th April 1814 we are informed the Malt in question was shipd on board the Marchioness of Ely and after Insurance was effected they received notice that the Ship was so full of Company’s Cargo that it was the intention to reland a proportion of Malt and Hops – Sixty four of which fell to the lot of our Brew Houses.

I trust Sir, now the Worshipful Board will see the enormous expense in shipping relanding, reshipping, Insurance, Interest money export duties & the damage the Property must sustain in the frequent disturbance of it is a serious heavy loss already & trust to their justice that they will not add an additional expense upon what has already occurred at it must now appear to them that the Malt in question was part of our second years supply and it’s not coming at its regular time was not our fault or that of our agents. I beg leave to enclose our Agent’s Letter as it may be more satisfactory to the Worshipful Board to the point in question.

I remain Sir &c. Sig. Wm Balcombe. Duplicate (original per Marcs Ely) London 27th April/14

He enclosed the letter from his agent Mr Burnie for the Board to consider.

To Messrs W Balcombe & Co St Helena


We wrote you on the 18th Feby by the Glatton and we have now to enclose a duplicate of our letter, together with copies of the documents accompanying it, since that date we have not had the pleasure of hearing from you. In conformity with our advices to you of the above mentioned date, we shipped last month on board the Marchioness of Ely, the remaining half of the your Malt & Hops for the present years supply, and about three weeks after we had done so and had completed our Invoice effected Insurance &c. we received notice that the ship was so full of Company’s Cargo owing to an error in the calculations of Tonnage, that it was intended to reland a proportion of the Malt belonging to each of the Breweries on your Island and altho’ we lost not a moment in personally representing to the Chairman & other Directors the extreme hardship of the case, as well as the loss & disappointment to you, the measure was determined upon and 240 Casks are now in the Company’s Warehouse 64 of which are yours & as yet the Court have come to no decision about taking up another ship for the present season, altho’ we are led to hope that before the Fleet sails we shall be enabled to acquaint you with their resolution to do so, as they cannot with any degree of justice allow individuals to suffer thro’ the mismanagement of their own Servants. Having been obliged as usual to pay the export duty &c. House. Since writing the foregoing we have received your letters of the 2nd January & 24th February the former giving cover for £1500 and the latter one for £400 both on the Court of Directors, and we beg to return you our best thanks for your punctuality on this occasion – We should have paid particular attention to the before the articles could be shipped we have now to petition the Commissioners of the Customs to return the proportion of Duty upon the Malt now on Shore, which we trust will be granted but there are several small charges which we shall have to pay again when the Malt is reshipt, particularly the Company’s own charge for lighterage &c. to Gravesend it is therefore our intention to petition the Committee of shipping for a remuneration to the extent of any loss that may be sustained, a request we conceive that ought to be deemed moderate after all the trouble and anxiety we have experienced.Enclosed you will receive Invoice & Bill of Landing for the Malts and Hops and we have thought it the most simple mode to let the Invoice stand as it was made out and when the remainder of the Malt is shipped we shall have only to debit you with the charges, giving credit for what we recover from the Customs & India alteration you wished to make in sending all pale Malt, had your letter been received in time and likewise to the increase in quantity of the Hops, but as none of the latter have been returned with the Malt, we hope you will experience no inconvenience and we shall send you a further supply by the first opportunity.

30th April – After incessant applications both to the chairman & the Committee of Shipping on the subject of the Malt returned we have at length obtained an assurance that it shall be forwarded in the course of the present season – which is all the information we are at present enabled to give you as the Packet closes this day.

We remain &c.            Signed Wm & Jas Burnie

Resolved that the duty shall be remitted on the 32 casks Malt imported on the St Helena Schooner and also on the remaining 32 casks which by the letter from Messrs Burnie appear to have been in the Hon’ble Company’s warehouses on the 27th April 1814.

It appears Mr Coles wanted to set up another brewery in competition to that of Mr Balcombe.

To Thos. H Brooke Esqr    Secy to Govmt


I beg leave to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 24th Inst, conveying to me the reply of the worshipful the Governor & Council to my letter or the 25th, soliciting the same indulgences to be granted to a Brewery at the Briars as are allowed to the Breweries established on this Island and I request you will have the goodness to make known to the Worshipful the Governor & Council that the Brewery at the Briars is in no way connected with the Naval Brewery; that it is a separate concern undertaken by myself under the hope that a situation so well calculated for improvement in the quality of Beer for the use of the Island and in particular for private Families would meet with the approbation of the Worshipful Governor & Council and I trust that I shall not be deemed presuming in again stating for the information of the Worshipful Board that I was regularly articled and brought up to the business of a Brewery.

I beg leave also through you, to submit to the Worshipful the Governor & Council’s consideration, the heavy loss I must inevitably suffer should my request not be complied with, the Hon. Court of Directors having granted Freight the foregoing year for every sort of utensil and a quantity of Malt & Hops for a Brewery at the Briars; which have been brought out by me at a considerable expence. I therefore humbly hope the Worshipful the Governor & Council will permit my Indent for the following season to pass, and that the indulgences will be allowed to me of landing Malt and Hops duty free for the same period granted to other Breweries on this Island, the customary allowance of coals from the Hon. Company’s Stores, and a Licence for a House to retail Beer.

I have also to beg you will communicate to the Worshipful Board that Mr. Balcombe Proprietor of the Naval Brewery has no share whatever in the Brewery I am soliciting their permission to establish, and I am desirous to enter into any Bond the Worshipful Board may deem necessary to that effect.

I am Sir &c. Sig, Jos. Cole   31st July

So Balcombe was running the Naval brewery and Mr. Cole wished to set up another in opposition to him at The Briars. One can only wonder if, as the Balcombes were living at The Briars, the brewery there may have been handed over to Cole to perhaps pay a debt.


However the life for everyone on the island was soon to change. The arrival of the exiled Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, his entourage and hundreds of soldiers and sailors to guard him would see to that.




Dated 12th August 1805

Mr. William Balcombe and Mr. William John Burchell

THIS INDENTURE made the twelfth day of August in the forty fifth year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King Defender of the Faith And in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and five BETWEEN William Balcombe of Essex Street in ——the Strand in the County of Middlesex Gentleman of the one part and William John Burchell of Fulham in the said County of Middlesex of the other part WHEREAS the said William Balcombe and William John Burchell intend shortly to leave this United Kingdom and reside in the Island of St Helena and have agreed to become co-partners together in the Trades or Business of Merchants with such stock for such terms in such manner and under such covenants Conditions and agreements as are hereinafter mentioned and expressed NOW THIS INDENTURE WITNESSETH that for and in consideration of the Confidence and good Opinion which the said parties have, and repose, in each other – and for and in Consideration of the sum of One thousand pounds of lawful money of Great Britain by the said Parties in equal proportions brought into the said Co-partnership as and for a Capital Stock – they, the said William Balcombe and William John Burchell, have and each of them hath Covenanted concluded and agreed and by the Presents Do and each of them Doth covenant conclude and agree to and with each other to become, continue and remain Copartners and Joint Dealers together in the said Trade or Business of Merchants and in buying and selling such Goods and Merchandizes as the said Parties shall from time to time mutually agree on for and during the term of seven years to commence from the day of the date of these Presents by and with the aforesaid Stock of One thousand pounds or such other Stock as the said Parties shall hereafter mutually agree upon and to which Stock and the Gains and Increases thereof they, the said William Balcombe, and William John Burchell, shall be equally interested and entitled but in Case either of the said Parties shall at any time during the continuance of the aforesaid Co-partnership advance, and bring into the said trade more than his proportion of the Capital Stock these of their the other of the said Parties shall and will enter into a Bond in a sufficient penalty for the payment of one Moiety of the Sum so brought in over and above the said proportion with Interest for the same after the rate of Interest payable in India unto the party so advancing the same within six months from the date of the said Bond And that the said Co-partnership Trade or concern shall be managed and carried on during the said Tour in and upon such House, Counting house, Warehouses or other Premises in the Island of Saint Helena aforesaid or elsewhere, as they, the said Parties, hereto shall mutually agree upon by and in the names of the said William Balcombe and William John Burchell and in whose names all Bonds Bills Notes Specialties Securities and Transactions whatsoever shall be had made, drawn entered into given and taken and also that the said Parties shall and will diligently employ themselves in the said Trade, according to their best and utmost skill and Judgement to and for the most advantage, and that neither of them shall or will have any trading or dealing solely by or for himself or jointly with or for any other Person or Persons but only to and for their joint use and benefit without the consent of the other of them first hand and obtained in writing for the purpose, and also that all Rent and Rents Taxes Rates and Board Lodging and Wages of Servants and Apprentices employed in the said Business and all other Charges Casualties Losses and Damages arising or accruing for or in respect of the said Co-partnership shall be paid sustained and borne by and out of the said Co-partnership Stock and also that the said Parties shall and will from time to time keep just and true Books of Account wherein shall be entered all Receipts and Payments and all their Buyings and Sellings Dealings and Transactions in and relating to the said Co-partnership Trade or Business and the Stock thereof which Books as the Money and Cash belonging to the said Co-partnership shall be kept in such Place or Places as the said Parties may hereafter from time to time mutually agree on And that each of the said Parties shall and may have recourse thereto and see, examine, copy out the said Books or any of them or any part whereof at his free will and pleasure AND ALSO that neither of the said Parties shall or will enter into acknowledge, or confess any Statute Recognizance, Judgement or Bond or become Bail or Borrow for any person or persons or do or suffer to be done any other Act Matter or Thing whatsoever whereby any of the partnership Monies or Effects shall or may be attached seized extended or taken into execution in any manner howsoever but each of the said Parties shall save, defend and keep harmless the other of them and the said Co-partnership Stock from his own private and particular Debt and Debts and all costs Losses Charges Expenses Damages and Demands whatsoever thereby arising and that neither of the said Parties shall take or retain any Apprentice or Servant in the said Trade without the consent of the other of the said Parties and the money given with any such apprentice shall be paid into the said co-partnership stock AND ALSO that neither of the said parties shall deliver or send out upon trust or credit any Goods or Merchandize belonging to the Co-partnership without the advice and consent of the other of them, provided such Consent can be conveniently obtained and the party so trusting or giving Credit without such consent and after he shall be forewarned to the contrary by the other of the said Parties shall stand to the risk adventure and loss thereof and make good to the Co-partnership Stock all losses and damages thereby sustained AND ALSO that all Orders for Goods and Merchandizes sent from Saint Helena aforesaid to England shall be signed by both the said Parties AND ALSO that the said Parties shall half yearly on the twentieth day of June and the twentieth day of December in every year during this Co-partnership or within twenty days after make up a full and perfect account of their partnership Stock and all things relating thereto and such account so made up shall be fairly entered in two Books to be interchangeably subscribed by the said Parties and no account so passed and subscribed shall be called in question unless some special error shall appear therein and so as the same be found out and rectified in the life time of both the said parties and upon the passing and subscribing the said account and every of them the said Parties and upon the passing and subscribing and every of them the said Parties shall equally divide between them the gains and profits of the said Co-partnership Trade and Business PROVIDED nevertheless that in case either of the said Parties shall be absent from the said Business so that the whole trouble thereof shall be borne and managed by the other of them that their the said Party so solely conducting the same shall be entitled to and retain to himself two thirds of the Profits of the said Trade or Business for the time he shall so solely manage the same aforesaid AND also that the end of the said Term of Seven years or other sooner determination of the said Co-partnership or within twenty days after a full perfect and final accounts shall be taken and an equal division made of all Monies Goods Wares Merchandizes and other Effects then in partnership between the said Parties unless they shall then otherwise agree in respect of them

AND IT IS FURTHER AGREED by and between the said Parties that in Case either of them shall happen to die before the End of the said Term yet nevertheless no benefit or advantage of survivorship shall be had or claimed by the Survivor of them but the part and share of the Party so dying shall accrue and come to the Executors or Administrators of the deceased Party And in such case the survivor of the said Parties shall thereupon or as soon after as conveniently may be make sale and disposition by Public Auction or otherwise all the Stock in Trade Goods Merchandizes and other Property belonging to the said Partnership for the best price that can be obtained for the same and upon Receipt of the produce thereof after payment thereout and satisfaction of or allowing unto the said surviving Party all charges and Expenses attending the said Sale and of all Debts Monies and Demands whatsoever due or to become due from the said Co-partnership to any person or Persons whomsoever he, the said surviving Party, shall and will within one month from the death of the Party so dying pay unto the Executors or Administrators of the Party so dying one equal moiety or half part of the balance then remaining in his Hands AND WHEREAS the said William Balcombe has a prospect of being appointed Appraiser and Auctioneer or some appointment similar thereto to the said Island of Saint Helena which will entitle him to the sale of all Articles and Property sold by Public Auction there NOW THIS INDENTURE FURTHER WITNESSETH and the said William Balcombe for and in consideration of the trouble which the said William John Burchell shall and may have in assisting him in the said Business of Appraiser and Auctioneer in the event of his obtaining such appointment or any other appointment similar thereto doth hereby covenant and agree to and with the said William John Burchell to allow and pay unto him one third part or share of the Clear profits arising from the execution of any such appointment and also to keep just and true books of account wherein shall be entered all receipts payments and transactions relating to any such appointment and business done under and by virtue of the same, And that the said William John Burchell shall and may have recourse thereto at all reasonable and convenient times. And also that the said William Balcombe shall half yearly on the twentieth day of June and the twentieth day of December in every year during such time as the said William John Burchell shall continue to be his assistant as aforesaid make up a full and true account of the profits and disbursements and all things relating to the said appointment of Auctioneer and Appraiser or any Similar appointment as aforesaid and shall within one month then next pay unto the said William John Burchell one third part of the clear profits arising therefrom and so continue the same from time to time. And in case of the death of the said William John Burchell he, the said William Balcombe shall and will account with and pay unto his Executors and Administrators such third part up to the time of the death or discontinuance of the assistance of the said William John Burchell as aforesaid AND the said William John Burchell for the Considerations aforesaid Doth hereby Covenant and agree to and with the said William Balcombe to use his utmost diligence and endeavours in assisting and promoting the interest and advantage of the said William Balcombe in performing the Duties of any such appointment or appointments as aforesaid under the direction of and in such manner as he the said William Balcombe shall think most fit proper and advisable and shall and will be just and true to the said William Balcombe therein. AND LASTLY it is hereby covenanted concluded and agreed by and between the said Parties that if at any time hereafter any Doubt variance or dispute shall arise between them or either of their Executors or Administrators touching or concerning the said Co-partnership Business then and in such case the said Parties their Executors and administrators respectively shall and will forthwith nominate and appoint two indifferent Persons to end and determine all matters differences and controversies between them one of them to be chosen by each Party or his respective Executors or Administrators and in case such two Persons cannot agree to determine the same within forty days next after the referee then the same shall be referred to and discussed by such one indifferent Person as the said two first Referees shall for that purpose nominate or appoint who shall determine the same within twenty days next after he shall be so appointed umpire And the said Parties their Executors or Administrators shall and will stand to and perform the award and Determination which shall be made by the said Arbitrators or their umpire to be elected and appointed as aforesaid so as the said Award and Determination of the said Arbitrators or umpire be made and put in writing under their respective Hands and Seals and ready to be delivered to the said Parties where they shall require the same of the said Arbitrators or Umpire IN WITNESS whereof the said Parties to these Presents have hereunto set their Hands and Seals the Day and Year first above written.

(Signed) Wm Balcombe                             (Signed) Wm J Burchell

Sealed and delivered, being first duly stamped in the presence of

(Signed) Matthew Burchell

(Signed) Robn Williams, Landlord of the Bugle Inn of Ryde the Isle of Wight   [167]

#Balcombe   #Burchell  #StHelena  #Bonaparte


[1] Cleverly, Les, A short biography WJ Burchell, special agent or naturalist. Edenvale, South Africa, 1989, p. 3.

[2] Letter from William Burchell to his parents from Mitcham dated May 20th 1795. Archives at William Cullen Library University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg, South Africa.

[3] Extract made from the original in possession of the Linnaean Society and in the Archives at University of Witwatersrand.

[4] ( and (

[5] Burchell’s letters dated August 15 and September 18th 1804, Archives of the William Cullen Library, University Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, SA.

[6] IGI Family Search (, Batch No. C723013.

[7] Cleverly, Les, A short biography WJ Burchell, Edenvale, South Africa, 1989, p. 9.

[8] Cleverly, Les, A short biography WJ Burchell, Edenvale, South Africa, 1989, p. 4.

[9] The Pubs of Ryde at (

[10] ( and (

[11] Douglas Hay & Nicholas Rogers, Eighteenth Century English Society, Oxford University Press, 1997 p. 223.

[12] A transcription of the Indenture by can be found in the Appendix, it was compiled by ER Gaden.

[13] Burchell’s diary entry for 8 August 1810 recounts the incident

[14] Farrington, Officers, p.114.

[15] Farrington, Ship’s Logs, p 482-483

[16] Burchell’s diary, 19 July 1807.

[17] Hardy p. 249.

[18] Letter from Burchell to his father, dated 27 August 1805 and Passenger lists in Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle, 12 August 1805, issue 305.

[19] Andrew Hassam, No Privacy for Writing, Melbourne University Press, 1995, p.xvii.

[20] Many newspapers listing ship’s arrival in port, see local newspapers.

[21] Russell Miller, The East Indiamen. pp. 126-128.

[22] Russell Miller, The East Indiamen. p. 134. and Andrew Hassam, No Privacy for Writing, Melbourne University Press, 1995, p.xvii -xx.

[23] Andrew Hassam, No Privacy for Writing, Melbourne University Press, 1995, p. xvii.

[24] William Lefanu (editor), Betsy Sheridan’s Journal, letters from Sheridan’s sister, Oxford University Press, 1986, p.18.

[25] Hill, Constance, Maria Edgeworth, her circle in the days of Buonaparte and Bourbon, John Lane, The Bodley Head, MCMX (1910)

[26] (

[27] Susanna de Vries, Royal Mistresses of the House of Handover-Windsor, p.49.

[28] The History Guide (

[29] Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 25 February 1815.

[30] The Morning Post, London, 16 Sep 1814, Issue 13621, Gale database, 19th Century British Newspapers Pt II.

[31] Russell Miller, The East Indiamen, p 125-126.

[32] Robert Dick, editor, The North-British Intelligencer or Constitutional Miscellany, Edinburgh, Volume V, MDCCLXXVII, (1777) page 273 on Google Books.

[33] The Morning Post, London, 1 Apr 1814, Issue 13476, Gale database, 19th Century British Newspapers Pt II.

[34] Russell Miller, The East Indiamen, pp. 139-141.

[35] Hampshire Chronicle , 14 October 1782.

[36] Hampshire Chronicle, 20 December 1784.

[37] Sian Rees, The Floating Brothel, Hodder, Sydney, 2001, p. 177-187.

[38] Caroline Gaden, personal recollection of a visit to the Island in 2010.

[39] Mrs Abell (Late Miss Elizabeth Balcombe) Recollections of the Emperor Napoleon during the first three years of his captivity on the Island of St Helena, London, John Murray, MDCCCXLIV, p. 2.

[40] James Prior, Visit to St Helena 1814, Friends of St Helena web site

[41] The development of the airport required heavy earth moving equipment so a wharf for larger ships had to be built at Rupert’s Bay, the adjacent bay to Jamestown and ( and (

[42] Simon Winchester, Outposts, journeys to the surviving relics of the British Empire, Penguin Travel, UK, 2003, Chapter 6, St Helena, pp. 139-140

[43] Caroline Gaden, personal recollection of a visit to the Island in 2010.

[44] Anthony Farrington, Catalogue of East India Company Ships’ Journals and Logs 1600-1834, London, The British Library 1999, page 483.

[45] Philip Gosse, St Helena 1502-1938, Anthony Nelson, 1990, p. 236

[46] HEIC ledgers and reports located in the Archives, Jamestown, St Helena, accessed November 2010.

[47] Russell Miller, The East Indiamen p. 153

[48] Phil Lambden, Botanist, St Helena Botanical tour, 3 November 2010

[49] Mrs Abell, Recollections, page 5-6.

[50] Ian Baker, geologist, personal communication 14 April 2012.

[51] Caroline Gaden, personal recollection from a visit to St Helena in 2010.

[52] Letter from Burchell to his father dated 24 March 1806, transcribed from the collection at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, SA, via Rosemary Baker who photocopied the files and posted the images to the author. University COLLECTION NUMBER: A342, COLLECTION INDEX:   BURCHELL, William John 1795-1865 , COLLECTION NAME:  William John BURCHELL Papers, 1795-1865, Correspondence files File 1.1-1.4, File 2 Miscellaneous writings 2.1 “Address to Lot Rock” and 2.2 1810 Oct 10, original journal, 2 pages.

[53] Caroline Gaden, Balcombe family history research.

[54] Letter from Burchell to his father dated 8 June 1806 from Witwatersrand.

[55] Les Cleverly, A short Biography WJ Burchell Special agent of naturalist, 1989, SA, Edenvale

[56] John Guy, Georgian Life, Ticktock publishing UK, 1997, p 6-13.

[57] Helen McKay quoted in Les Cleverly, A short Biography WJ Burchell, Special agent or Naturalist, 1989, SA, Edenvale, p. 7.

[58] Les Cleverly, A short biography WJ Burchell, special agent or naturalist, Edenvale, South Africa, 1989, p. 37

[59] (

[60] Burchell’s diary is held in the Hope Library, University of Oxford. Pages were scanned by librarian Mark Dickerson and forwarded to the author. Some photographs were also taken from images at the Archives, St Helena. All the images were transcribed by Bob Gaden.


[62] and Memorial of St. Helena Vol I, Part II, p. 95

[63] Arnold Chaplin, A St Helena Who’s Who, Arthur L Humphreys, London 1919, p. 52.

[64] Robert Browning, Philip Kelley, Ronald Hutchinson and Scott Lewis, The Brownings Correspondence Letters June 1844-December 1844, page 301,

[65] Letter from Burchell to the Governor 17 August 1810, from Witwatersrand.

[66] Poem transcribed by Caroline Gaden from a photocopy of the handwritten original, photograph of Burchell from diary.

[67] Information from tour guide Basil George and and photographs of scenery by Bob and Caroline Gaden.

[68] Extracts from the St Helena Records by HR Janisch, at <; and St Helena: Ascension, Tristan Da Cunha  by Sue Steiner, Robin Liston, Richard Grundy, Mike Hentley in


[70] Alexander Beatson, Tracts relative to the island of St Helena written during the residence of five years, 1816, London. Bulmer and Co, page xxxv-xxxvii available on Google Books.

[71] Teavil Leason Letter located in the East Yorkshire Archives and Gilbert Martineau, Napoleon’s St Helena, Rand McNally, Chicago, 1968, p. 142-3 and 211.

[72] Gilbert Martineau, Napoleon’s St Helena, page 139-140.

[73] The Morning Chronicle, 24 August 1818, Issue 15386, Letter from Plantation House, St Helena about Bonaparte

[74] The Times, 18 May 1818, p. 3, issue 10359

[75] Jamestown Burial Register, April 1807, page 72, photographed by Bob Gaden, Jamestown Archives, November 2010.

[76] India Office Family History Search reference N/6/2 f.46 and N/6/2 f.57 at <;

[77] Family research by the Caroline Gaden

[78] Lane’s Masonic Records, version 1.0 (<;, October 2011).
Published by HRI Online Publications, ISBN 978-0-955-7876-8-3 and (,000_famous_freemasons/Volume_1_A_to_D.htm) and (,000_famous_freemasons/Volume_3_K_to_P.htm)

[79] Caroline Gaden, St Helena Island, diary of a visit, Beaumont Publishing, Invergowrie, 2010.

[80] Vivienne Dickson, St Helena Place names, Names Volume 31, number 4, December 1973.

[81] GC Kitching, A Handbook of the island of St Helena including a short history of the island under the Crown 1834-1902, June 1947.

[82] Philip Gosse, St Helena 1502-1938, Anthony Nelson, Oswestry, 1990, p 217.

[83] Philip Gosse, St Helena, p 43.

[84] Philip Gosse, St Helena, pp 54-55.

[85] “Court of King’s Bench, Guildhall, Jan 10”, Times (London, England) 11 Jan 1821:3. The Times Digital Archive, Web. 8 April 2012.

[86] Cleverly, Les, A short biography WJ Burchell, p. 9

[87] Russell Miller, The East Indiamen, page 136.

[88] HEIC ledgers and reports located in the Archives, Jamestown, St Helena, accessed November 2010, Gaden photo number IMG0244

[89] Extracts from the St Helena Records by HR Janisch, at <;

[90] Trevor W Hearl, St Helena Monthly Register, 1810-13,

[91] Burchell diary 27 July 1808.

[92] Jamestown Births and Baptism register photographed by Bob Gaden, Jamestown Archives November 2010.

[93]Jamestown Births and Baptism register photographed by Bob Gaden, Jamestown Archives, November 2010.

[94] Cleverly, Les, A short biography WJ Burchell,

[95] Arnold Chaplin, A St Helena Who’s Who, pp 248-9 and Burchell’s diary entry.

[96] Farrington, Catalogue of East India Company Ships’ journals and logs, p. 683


[98] HEIC ledgers and reports located in the Archives, Jamestown, St Helena, accessed November 2010 and Farrington, page 683 and 690.

[99] HEIC ledgers and reports located in the Archives, Jamestown, St Helena, accessed November 2010.

[100] Farrington, Catalogue of East India Company Ships’ Journals 1600-1834, British Library 1999.

[101] Farrington, EIC Maritime Officers, and A. Richert, The African Court Calendar for MDCCCXIV, Cape Town 1814, available on Google books.

[102] Privateers at

[103] Winchester Chronicle 14 July, 1838, issue 782, Hampshire Advertiser and Salisbury Guardian 24 September 1832, 27 February 1841 and 16 July 1842.

[104] The Morning Post, 15 June 1836, page 36, The Standard 9 February 1838, issue 4257, The Morning Post, 19 December 1839.

[105] Letter from Lucia (Betsy) Balcombe/Abell to her brother Alexander Beatson Balcombe dated 20 April 1867. In the possession of Richard a’Becket and transcribed by Richard a’Becket and Anne Whitehead and part of the ‘Betsy collection’ at The Briars, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. [a/B8/5]

[106] and

[107] Great Britain, Admiralty, A list of Officers and Other Commissioned Officer of His Majesty’s Fleet, London, 1831, p. 4.

[108] <> and death notice in The Times 26 January 1847.

[109] Leicester Chronicle and Mercury, 16 November 1878, page 8


[111] England and Wales Census, 1881 From Ancestry ( ) Source Citation: Class: RG11; Piece: 1203; Folio: 8; Page: 10; GSU roll: 1341294.

[112] <;

[113] Janisch, St Helena records 21 April 1810 and 12 May 1810,

[114] Barbara B George, St Helena, the Chinese connection, pp. 8-9.

[115] Barbara B George, St Helena, the Chinese connection, p. 25.

[116] Mrs Abell [Lucia Elizabeth (Betsy) Balcombe] Recollections of Napoleon at Saint Helena, London, John Murray, 1844, p. 8.

[117] HEIC ledgers and reports located in the Archives, Jamestown, St Helena, accessed November 2010

[118] Basil George, Walking tour of Jamestown, 30 October 2010

[119] and Church records held in the Jamestown Archives, Viewed November 2010.

[120] Barbara B George, St Helena, the Chinese connection, pp 25-27, 36, 68-69.

[121] Robin Castell, William John Burchell- St Helena, The Castell Collection, St Helena, 2011, pp 117-84.

[122] <; and <;

[123] Les Cleverly, A short biography WJ Burchell, 1989, SA Edenvale.

[124] Clavell, p. 38, Tasmanian BDM records, Hobart Town Gazette 18 June 1824.

[125] HEIC ledgers and reports located in the Archives, Jamestown, St Helena, accessed November 2010, p 195.

[126] Vivienne Dickson, St Helena Place Names, Names Volume 31, No. 4, 1973.

[127] GC Kitching, A handbook of the island of St Helena including a short history of the island under the Crown 1834-1902, June 1947.

[128] HEIC ledgers and reports located in the Archives, Jamestown, St Helena, accessed November 2010, p 195-6.

[129] Janice E Crowther and Peter A Crowther, Dairy of Robert Sharp of South Cave, OUP, 1997, p. 582

[130] Baptism and death pages from St Helena archives and letter written by Teavil Leason from East Riding of Yorkshire Council Archives, Beverley, Yorkshire, in possession of the author.

[131] Burials records, page 24, from the St Helena Archives,

[132] St Helena Records, < http:www.bweaver, >

[133] Major-General Alexander Beatson, Tracts relative to the Island of St Helena written during a residence of five years, Bulmer and Co, London, 1816, pages 207 -240. Digitized by Google

[134] Erik Durschmied, The Weather Factor, how Nature has changed the course of History, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 2000, pages 106-127.

[135] St Helena Records, < http:www.bweaver, >

[136] Major-General Alexander Beatson, Tracts relative to the Island of St Helena written during a residence of five years, Bulmer and Co, London, 1816, pp. 327-8.

[137] Caroline Gaden, observation on a visit to St Helena in 2010

[138] Trevor W Hearl, The St Helena Monthly Register 1810-1813, compiled by Trevor W Hearl, 2002 at<;

[139] Trevor W Hearl, The St Helena Monthly Register 1810 – 1813, < >

[140] The Times, 25 December 1788, p 4, and The Gentleman’s Magazine Volume XCVIII, Jan – June 1828, p 478.

[141] Crowther and Crowther, Dairy of Robert Sharp of South Cave p. 591

[142] Crowther and Crowther, Dairy of Robert Sharp of South Cave p. 581

[143] Archives, East Riding Yorkshire, Ref: DDBD 88/2

[144] Archives, East Riding Yorkshire, Ref: DDBD 88/2

[145] Archives, East Riding Yorkshire, Ref: DDBD 88/2

[146] Crowther & Crowther, Dairy of Robert Sharp of South Cave page xxxvi

[147] Crowther & Crowther, Dairy of Robert Sharp of South Cave page 582.

[148] Archives, East Riding Yorkshire, Ref: DDBD 88/2

[149] Obituary in The Gentleman’s Magazine, Jan – June 1828, Vol XCVIII, page 478, death certificate from A. Lambert, 2005, Hull Packet and Humber Mercury, 29 April 1828 and December Quarter 1844, Vol 23, page 5, Beverley.

[150] HEIC ledgers and reports located in the Archives, Jamestown, St Helena, pages 273-276, 321-325, accessed November 2010

[151] St Helena Records at <;

[152] 1814 Census of St Helena available at <;

[153] Trevor W Hearl St Helena Monthly Register, <>

[154] Jamestown Births and Baptism register photographed by Bob Gaden, Jamestown Archives November 2010.

[155] India Office Records at <>

[156] HEIC ledgers and reports located in the Archives, Jamestown, St Helena, 1814, page 60-66, accessed November 2010.

[157] India Office Family History Search, Z/O/1/8 No. 236, and Families in British India Society website at <;

[158] Letter to Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt from William Balcombe dated 20 October 1815 available from the James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Collection, Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

[159] London News, Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh) 3 April 1815, issue 14558 and Farrington, Ship’s Logs, p. 115.


[161] Philip Gosse, St Helena 1502 – 1938, Anthony Nelson, Oswestry, 1990, page 260.

[162] Barbara B Montgomerie The First “St Helena” and St Helena Records, < http:www.bweaver, >

[163] St Helena Records at <;

[164] HEIC ledgers and reports located in the Archives, Jamestown, St Helena, accessed November 2010.

[165] HEIC ledgers and reports located in the Archives, Jamestown, St Helena, accessed November 2010.

[166] Barbara B Montgomerie, The First “St Helena“, 1994, Printsetters, Bristol, pp 2-13.

[167] Transcription (by Bob Gaden) of scans from the original agreement located in the Hope Library, University of Oxford, UK.