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The Ganges to Swan River Colony 1841

Debts to the Government



Debts for Expenses Incurred in Landing & Transporting the Immigrants

On 7 February 1843, the Collector of Revenue, Mr Henderson, submitted to the Colonial Secretary a list of persons indebted to the Government for "expenses incurred in the keep of Emigrants per Ganges  at the [Emigrant] Depot Fremantle". The list had previously been submitted on 3 August 1842. The Governor directed that any accounts not paid or disputed should be handed over to the Crown Solicitor, Mr Laurence, to be dealt with immediately.

Monies were then due by C. Brown, Bussell, Mary Bolger, A. Curtis, Mr Drummond, J.W. Hendry (paid), W. Heinds? (disputed as not liable), E. Hammersley, H. Hackett, Major Irwin (paid but since claimed not due), Mrs Layman (paid), H.M. Lefroy, E. B. Lennard (disputed), S. Moore (paid), R.W. Nash (disputed as not due), S.P. Phillips, J. Schoales, H. Sutherland (disputed), J. Smith, Mr Tanner (states he will pay), E. Wright, S. Waylen (paid).

[Acc 36 123/220, State Records Office, WA]

On 10 April 1843, the Rev. Wittenoom submitted to the Colonial Secretary's Office, in response to a request, the following list of names of immigrants brought out by Schoales for the Church and whose passages had been defrayed by the Trustees.

Benjamin Hicks £20.0.0

John Delamere & Wife £38.0.0

Gregory Malone £20.0.0

Edward Dowdall £20.0.0

Michael Bolger & Wife £38.0.0

George Sutton £20.0.0

[Acc 36 CSR 124/110, State Records Office, WA]

On 28 June 1843 Rev. Wittenoom wrote again in the following terms:


You are aware that the Trustees of Church Property some time ago introduced in the Colony thru the agency of Mr Schoales several mechanics to assist in building the new Church in Perth and for whose passage they paid that gentleman the sum of £160 or thereabouts.

On their arrival the Trustees were unable to avail themselves of their services owing to them having entered into a Contract with certain individuals for the erection of the Church & they were consequently thrown upon the Public who have … all the benefit of their introduction in the same manner as Government Immigrants. Under these circumstances I have been requested by my co-Trustees to call His Excellency's attention to this subject & to express a hope that he would be disposed to relieve them from the debt which they have incurred not for their own, but for the advantage of others. The grounds upon which they would in a more especial manner justify their application is that they have been given to understand that several of the immigrants brought out by Mr Schoales have been released from their obligation to him by the Government paying their passage money & it would seem but an act of justice to extend to a public body like the Trustees that indulgence which has been so liberally granted to a private individual.

Governor Hutt's comments were added in a memo:

"It is very true that the passage of certain of the Immigrants brought out by Mr Schoales were paid for by the Govt.: but this was immediately after their first landing. Eighteen months have now elapsed since that time & the Govt. does not see how therefore, the period of the indentures of the Church Trustees' Immigrants having expired, any claim can be admitted on their behalf. Besides which even were this application to be acceded to in words, there are no funds, nor is there the smallest possibility of there being any which the Govt. could appropriate to this purpose."

[Acc 36 Vol 124/131, State Records Office, WA]

In June of 1843 there were still debts outstanding to the Government. Crown Solicitor , J. Laurence, reported to the Governor that he had written three times to those mentioned below. Some are passengers themselves, others are settlers to whom the passengers were indentured:

Messrs Bussell

Messrs Burges

A. Curtis

J. Drummond

J. Smith … states he is no debtor and will call and explain to the Colonial Secretary

E. Wright

S.P. Phillips

Of the above Mr Phillips only has since paid …

The other Debtors are

C. Brown … Who has left the Colony

Mary Bolger … Whom I cannot discover

E. Hamersley … Left the Colony leaving no instructions for payment; agents ignorant of the debt

H. Hackett … Whom also I cannot discover

J. Schoales … Who has undertaken to pay


Governor Hutt's response was to "Direct the Crown Solicitor to prosecute all the parties who can be discovered immediately for these amounts. Ascertain first whether Bussell has now paid in his money thru his Attorney Mr S. Moore."

[Acc 36 123/31, State Records Office, WA]

On 6 October 1843 Mr Laurence reported that Bussell, Hamersley, Phillips and Schoales had paid their debts and that H.M. Lefroy and M. Tanner had made payments, presumably for passengers indentured to them. Laurence had been unable to ascertain who Mary Bolger was or whether she had any property in the Colony. Christopher Brown/e had left the Colony and Laurence had been unable to "discover" H (F?) Hackett. Edward Wright & J. Smith continued to deny any liability.

Messrs Burges, Curtis and Drummond had not made any reply to several letters and Mr Laurence sought evidence from the Colonial Secretary in support of the claims.

[Acc 36 123/47, State Records Office, WA]

Disputes concerning the outstanding debts continued for some time and were finally decided by the Court of Requests. The Inquirer of 17 July 1844 reported:

[A point of considerable public importance was decided last week in the Court of Requests, which settles the liability of persons who had ordered indentured servants to be brought our from England by Mr Schoales in the Ganges, to pay certain expenses in landing and forwarding such servants and their baggage to their several employers. These expenses were agreed upon to be paid by the parties so ordering, but the local government having at the time defrayed them, several of the parties considered themselves absolved from all liability to Mr Schoales.  Meanwhile peremptory orders have arrived by the Trusty from the Secretary of State to get repayment of these expenses from Mr Schoales, who, in his turn, is compelled to come upon the parties ordering. The case was argued as follows :-]

Court of Requests

Friday, 12th July, 1844

Before E.W. Landor, Esq., Commissioner.

J.Schoales v. Rev. J.B. Wittenoom, and the Trustees of Church Property

Plaintiff claimed the sum of £3 4s. from defendants, as the amount of expenses incurred in landing and forwarding to Perth certain immigrants, who were the indentured servants of the defendants. In 1840 an agreement was entered into between the parties, by which Mr Schoales undertook to bring out from England for defendants, tow bricklayers, two brickmakers, a carpenter and his wife, and a quarryman and his wife. Mr Schoales was to receive the "cost of the passage-money, and other expenses as thereafter mentioned," among which were to be included "all expenses in forwarding the servants from Fremantle to their masters or mistresses." In October, 1841, the plaintiff arrived at the port of Fremantle with the specified number of immigrants, and also many others, ordered on similar terms by other parties. On coming to anchor, the Government Agent, Mr Murray, took the charge of the immigrants out of the hands of Mr Schoales, and caused them to be immediately landed and sent to Perth. The charges for landing and forwarding to Perth were borne by the government, and amounted to 8s per head, making in this case the sum now claimed £3 4s. Mr Schoales duly rendered his account for passage money to the defendants in 1841, and received the amount, but then made no claim for landing charges and the subsequent expenses as these had been borne by the government , and paid out of the land-fund of the colony. Recently, however, Her Majesty's Secretary for the Colonies had disallowed these payments, on the ground that they ought to be borne by the parties respectively interested in the immigrants; and Mr Schoales had been called upon by the government to pay the amount thereof in the Colonial Treasury. Mr Schoales, thus pressed, sought to recover the amount from the parties who had ordered the immigrants. A copy of the original agreement was produced, and evidence having been given of its correctness, and of the loss of the original document, and that diligent search had been made for it, the copy was allowed to be received.

The defendants, as being the guardians of public money, thought it their duty to raise the question as to whether they would be justified in paying this demand at this late hour, Mr Schoales having nearly three years ago received all that he then claimed in respect of the immigrants.

The Commissioner observed that if Mr Schoales would at that time have been justified in making these charges, he was not yet barred from making his claim, the cause of his delay having been satisfactorily accounted for.

It was then contended, that there was no agreement made for payment of the expense of landing the immigrants; but that Mr Schoales having to pay the whole of the "passage-money," and the only expenses to be paid by the defendants being those of "forwarding the passengers from Fremantle," the plaintiff was bound himself to pay the landing charges.

The Commissioner held that the words passage-money were to be construed strictly to mean the sum which the plaintiff should pay in England for the passage of the immigrants; that this sum did not cover the expenses of landing, those expenses not being usually contemplated in the charge made by the shipowner for the voyage; that as the plaintiff had been acting merely as an agent for the defendants, and had merely charged them in 1841 with the actual "cost of the passage-money," as paid by him to the shipowners, it was unreasonable to suppose that it was ever contemplated he should pay the expenses of landing out of his own pocket; and, therefore, that all expenses incurred by plaintiff in forwarding the servants of defendants from the ship on its arrival at Fremantle, ought to be borne by the parties interested in those servants.

Judgement for £3 4s.