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Series 38: Correspondence, being mainly letters received by Banks from John Hunter, with related papers, 1795-1802, 1807

Provenance note

Documents 1-3, 5-10, 15 and 23 in this series were previously located at ML A1787. They were most probably bequeathed by David Scott Mitchell in July 1907 and formed part of the Mitchell Library collection.

Documents 4, 14 and 18, previously located at ML A78-2, and documents 20-22 and 24-25, previously located at ML A78-3, and document 13 previously located at ML A79-1, were purchased in 1884 from Lord Brabourne by Sir Saul Samuel, the Agent-General for New South Wales. They were transferred to the Mitchell Library in 1910 and were part of the accession which became known as the Brabourne collection.

Some of these documents were used by the compilers of Historical records of New South Wales, vol 3 (1895).

Documents 11 and 17, previously located at ML A82, document 12, previously located at ML A81, and document 16, previously located at ML A83, were part of an accession of Banks papers purchased for the Mitchell Library from Sotheby's, London, in May 1929.

Some documents in this series include the original folio numbers assigned by Banks, written in ink in an unknown hand in the top right hand corner.

It is now not possible to reconstruct Banks' original arrangement, the series has therefore been arranged chronologically.

Background note

John Hunter had sailed to New South Wales with the First Fleet as second-in-command on board HMS Sirius. He also had a commission to succeed the first Governor, Arthur Phillip, in the case of his death or absence. Hunter left New South Wales in March 1791 to return to England, arriving in April 1792.

He returned to New South Wales on HMS Reliance, arriving 7 September 1795. On 11 September he assumed the office of Governor of the colony succeeding Phillip, who had returned to England in December 1792, and following a subsequent period of military rule under Major Francis Grose and Colonel William Paterson. As Governor, Hunter was officially responsible to the Secretary of State, the Duke of Portland, but reported more fully and confidentially to Sir Joseph Banks.

One of his first initiatives as Governor was to attempt to reduce military power in the colony by curbing the military's monopoly over commercial services particularly the import and sales of goods and spirits. He attempted to organise an effective constabulary and establish public buildings. He consistently outlined the need for non-military assistance for the Governor.

While he was Governor, Hunter personally undertook, or organised, exploration and charting of land and coastal areas. He was involved in locating the cattle at Cowpastures descended from those which had arrived with the First Fleet and strayed from the settlement in July 1788. He conscientiously collected and sent plant and animal specimens to Banks.

In November 1799 he was recalled to England by the Duke of Portland. Government of the Colony passed to Philip Gidley King in September 1800.

During his period of governorship in New South Wales, Hunter constantly felt the lack of support from, and what he considered to be neglect by, the administration in England. He believed his dispatches had been ignored in favour of unofficial reports by dissatisfied residents of New South Wales. In 1802 he published an account of his experiences in New South Wales with his suggestions for reform and improvement titled Governor Hunter's Remarks on the Causes of the Colonial Expense of the Establishment of New South Wales. Hints for the reduction of such expense and for reforming the prevailing abuses. The appearance of this report contributed to the partial restoration of his reputation which had suffered following his recall from New South Wales.


Commerce - New South Wales
New South Wales - Colonisation