New South Wales, 4th November, 1808.

May it please your Lordship,

We, your memorialists, being free planters and inhabitants in the colony called New South Wales, humbly implore your Lordship’s permission to lay before you, in a concise manner, the state 1808 of this country, as well as the cause and effects of the change of government that took place in Jan’y last.

* There is little doubt that many of the charges made by Palmer and others were founded purely on hearsay.

† George Suttor, a free settler, who came out under the protection of Sir Joseph Banks in the year 1800, appears to have been the leading spirit in preparing this address. In the Sydney Gazette of 18th December, 1808, appears the following report of the proceedings of a Criminal Court summoned to try George Suttor for having written a letter to Colonel Foveaux—not as stated by Rusden with regard to this petition, but in justification of his conduct in refusing to obey Foveaux’s orders to attend at the general muster held at the end of November “ Mr. George Suttor, of Baulkliam Hills, settler, was placed at the bar, and indicted for having directed unto His Honor the Lieutenant-Governor a letter, containing contumelious expressions, with intent to bring into contempt His Majesty’s authority in this territory, &c.

“The indictment being gone through, and Mr. Suttor called upon to plead, he replied:
“Gentlemen,—I deny the legality of this Court. You may do with myself as you please ; my unfortunate wife and family I leave to the mercy of God, until peace shall be restored in the colony. I have nothing more to say.

“The Judge-Advocate then addressed the prisoner as follows:
Mr. Suttor, you are called upon to plead to your indictment; and whatever you have to offer in your defense will be attentively considered of. I again ask you, are you guilty or not guilty?

Sir, all I have to say I have already said.. I deny the legality of this Court. My allegiance is due to Governor Bligh, and Governor Bligh alone; and every drop of blood within my veins prevents me from ever acknowledging the legality of this Court. You may do with me as you think proper.

“The Judge-Advocate:
Mr. Suttor, it is my duty to acquaint you that it is provided by Act of Parliament that in case a prisoner shall refuse to plead to his indictment, the effect shall be the same as if he pleaded guilty. Once more I call upon you—are you guilty or not guilty?

I stand as before; I have said all I have to say. You are to do with me as you think proper.

“The Court ordered to be cleared, and in about twenty minutes reopened, when “The Judge-Advocate addressed the prisoner as follows:
Prisoner at the bar, in conse­quence of your refusal to plead to your indictment, the Court, in conformity to Act of Parliament, I have found you guilty, and sentenced you to be imprisoned six kalendar months, and to pay a fine of one shilling.”

Circumstances under which Bligh assumed command – The spirit traffic stopped by Bligh.
His Excellency Gov’r Bligh took the reins of governm’t under Circum- the greatest disadvantages, oweing to the great distress caused by the dread full flood just before his arrival, from which cause great numbers of the industrious farmers were brought to the greatest distress and total want of bread, at which time it required the greatest wisdom and prudence to govern the colony; and a more proper person than His Excell’y Gov’r Bligh could not have been found, who, by his most salutory orders put a stop to the bartering of spirits, and the stroling dealers who were generally employ’d by our trading officers, suppressing extortion and the Colonial cash notes, the drawers of which were making a trade of them, by chargeing from 25 to 40 p’r c’t. whenever any of the holders of such bills presented them for consolidation.

Your Lordship will be well aware that these and similar regula­tions were of the greatest service to the industrious, whilst they struck at the vitals of that monopoly and extortion which had so long reign’d in the colony, by which many of the officers and leading men had inriched themselves to the ruin of the inhabitants in general.

Settlers alarmed by the arrest of Bligh. They deny any complicity.
On the 26th of January your memorialists were struck with the utmost consternation upon hearing that His Excell’y Gov’r Bligh was deposed by the military, his papers seiz’d, public and private—said to be by the advice of John McArthur, Esq’r., who was that same day liberated from the county goal, in defiance of the civil law, by Major Johnston, who signed himself Lieut.-Governor, &c., before His Excell’y Gov’r Bligh was put under arrest. The next day your memorialists was much surpriz’d by hearing a proclamation read which usher’d in the new gov’t, and a General Order, dated the 26th, wherein Major Johnston declares that he deposed the Gov’r at request of the principal inhabitants, which we, the undersigned, pray for permission to protest to your Lordship, that we, your memorialists, knew nothing of the arrest of the Gov’r until after it had taken place; neither are we in possession of any circumstances that cou’d in any wise justify so daring an act; and we venture to affirm to your Lordship that not twenty of the inhabitants were consulted before the arrest took place.

McArthur appointed Colonial Secretary.
On the 12th of Feb’y John McArthur was appointed magistrate and Colonial Secretary, by which means the man got to the head of public affairs who but a few days before was committed to county goal to take his trial at a Criminal Court for various misdemeanours ; and, no doubt, his artifice and cunning was the cause of the change of government, and not the request of the inhabit­ants, as stated by Major Johnston.

The Chaplain dismissed.
The effects of this change of gov’t is seen and felt, both in The Church and State—in the Church, by silencing the only regular clergyman in the colony for his adherence to His Excell’y Gov’r Bligh at the time of his arrest; in the State, as order is thrown into confusion, and many of the inhabitants have just reason to complain of a partial administration of the law. The cultivators of the land labour under the greatest inconveniences, as they can get no cash for their grain, from which circumstance they are not able to discharge their debts or got necessaries for their families.

Decline of agriculture.
Upon a moderate calculation, there are 2,000 acres less wheat sown this year than when His ExcelPy Gov’r Bligh was in power, oweing from the officers monopolizing the labouring men, and that for various other purposes than agriculture, which must, in the end, be the total ruin of the colony, as the planters will not be able to grow grain sufficient to support themselves and families.

Pray for Bligh to be reinstated.
Thus your memorialists have presumed to lay before your Lordship the state of the colony in as brief a manner as we possibly can, and pray that your Lordship will take our case into your known humane consideration, and grant that His Excell’y Gov’r Bligh may honourably take the reins of gov’t once more over us, that our prosperous state may be happily restor’d, and the industrious and well deserving encouraged ; and your Lordship s memorialists, as good liege subjects, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Geo. Suttor, John Smith, W’m Shelley, Thomas Harley, Robert Smith, James Davison, And’w McDougall, Michael Hancy, Thomas McDougall, William Hancy, Jno. Ker McDougle, John Hillas, John Turnbull, Thos. Arndell,* And’w Johnston, John Howe, Mathew Pearce, James Main, John Bowman, William Bowman, John Youl, Ja’s Kennedy, Rowland Hassall, Francis Oakes, and John Kennedy.

N.B.—Several hundred more signatures could have been obtained, but the system of terror which reigns in the colony prevented us from venturing further.



4th November, 1808: Settlers' Petition to Viscount Castlereagh.

22nd February, 1809: Settlers to Viscount Castlereagh.

10th June, 1809: Gov. Bligh to Viscount Castlereagh.

Source: Historical Records of New South Wales: King and Bligh 1806, 1807, 1808Vol. VI, pp. 802 - 804.

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