Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Settler Family called Damant

Most settler parties conformed to the rules of the Emigration Scheme that they would be settled in the frontier districts. Having been stationed at Fort Frederick for seven years prior to the arrival of the 1820 Settlers, Captain Damant had already decided that the Gamtoos valley area would be the new family home.

This is the saga of the Damant family of Hankey

Main picture: A farm in the Gamtoos Valley

Prior to 1820
Captain Damant was Paymaster at Fort Frederick where he had been stationed for seven years prior to the arrival of the 1820 Settlers. Fortuitously he happened to be on vacation at home in England at the time when the Settlers left England and he actually returned to the Cape as one of the Damant Party of which his brother Edward was the head.

John Damant had joined the Commissariat Department as a clerk and had been posted to the Cape in 1811. He was subsequently transferred to Uitenhage where he married Maria, the only daughter of Frederik Korsten and from where he actively encouraged other members of his family to emigrate and join him at the Cape. His brother, Edward, and some other members of the family actually set out for the Cape in 1817, but the voyage was aborted. John’s brother, Thomas, had arrived at the Cape from England in 1818, and the two brothers carried on business under the style of “T. & J. Damant.”

Emigration scheme
A report of Parliament’s decision to provide government assistance for emigration to the Cape appeared in The Times of 13 July 1819. As may be imagined, once the scheme became known, the Colonial Office was swamped with applications from prospective emigrants. The day following the publication of the report, John Damant posted a letter to the Colonial Office advising that he had recently arrived from the Cape with the intention of “transmitting” labourers to the Eastern Cape and requested an interview.

Having apprised the Colonial Office in writing of the reason for his presence in England, it would not have been politic for John to apply to take a party of settlers to the Cape. He must have realized that the Colonial Office would not have been willing to provide free passages for  him and his labourers. So on 1st August his brother, Edward, wrote to the Colonial Secretary and advised them that, in consequence of the “encouragement” promised to persons emigrating to the Cape, he had engaged twenty labourers of different descriptions, with their families, to proceed with him to the Cape and that they particularly wished to leave after the harvest. He asked to be allotted to the first ship to leave and, having relations who had long been settled in the interior of the Colony who had pointed out the great necessity of improvement in the breed of cattle, he intended, if permission would be granted, to take some out for that purpose, together with the “most approved” agricultural implements in use.

The Paragon, Blackheath, London today

On 6 September of that year Edward sent in his first list of prospective settlers whom he proposed to take out to the Cape. In his letter, which was probably written from No. 8, The Paragon, Blackheath, London, he mentions that he had inserted the name of his brother-in-law, Mr. John Atherstone, a medical man, as he understood there to be a great need of medical men in the Colony. He also requested an interview, should his offer to take out settlers be successful. The list shows Damant and Atherstone as heads of the party.

The Korstens and the Damants
Frederick Korsten had purchased the Loan Place “Papenkuils Fontein” in 1812 from Thomas Ferreira and in honour of a visit by the Governor, Sir John Cradock, he amended the farm’s name to “Cradock’s Town“, later to be better known as “Cradock Place“. There he erected a number of buildings: slaughter and salt houses, granaries, a tannery, cooperage, carpenter’s shop, stores, and two windmills, besides a “capital Dwelling House.” For the purposes of grazing cattle, Korsten purchased the farm “De Gamtoos Riviers Wagendrift” of 3,000 morgen (about 856 hectares), on the Gamtoos River. At some stage after Damant’s marriage to Korsten’s daughter, he acquired the farm from his father-in-law. It was registered in his name on 11 June 1819. However, Korsten appeared before the Council of Justice and stated that on 31 December 1818 he had transferred the farm to John and Thomas Damant but that, in error, the Deed was entered solely in the name of John. On 15 December 1820 the error was rectified, and the property was transferred into the names of both John and Thomas. They subsequently renamed the farm “Lammas” after their ancestral home in Norfolk.

Tom later said that they had bought the farm for the purposes of growing barley to distil and that he had, at great expense, brought nearly 200 acres into cultivation. He claimed that he had all the requisites for distilling grain, only to find that there was an old law in the Cape which prohibited it. According to him, this was the reason the venture on the Gamtoos failed. As will be seen later, John gave a different reason for the failure of the venture. Be that as it may, the Damant brothers were doing well enough to have six indentured labourers in their employ in April 1819, and as a result of the labour shortage in the Colony, John went to England to recruit more labour.

The Paragon is a magnificent crescent of houses built between 1796 and 1800; fourteen in all, linked by colonnades. They fell into poor repair in the 1920s and 1930s and two were badly damaged in the last war. In the early 1950s they were beautifully restored, although converted into flats. No. 8 was occupied by the eldest Damant brother, William Castell Damant, from 1818 to 1826. He must have been a man of some substance because the houses, then and now, were of some quality and were usually occupied by families of substance. Many of the early residents were merchants with an interest in foreign markets, particularly the colonies.

 The travel arrangements as well as the composition of the Damant Party was subject to various changes. As much of this detail is tedious and to prevent this section from detracting from the flow of events, I have reallocated the minutiae of this process to Addendum number 1

Trip to their Terra Nova
The Damants were allocated to use the vessel the Ocean sailing from Deptford London. Also on board the Ocean was the Agent of Transport, Lieutenant Marshall Hoyles. R.N. Agents of Transports were officers appointed by the Navy Board to oversee the embarkation of the settlers and travel with them to the Cape. There was an agent for every two vessels, the one for the Ocean and the Northampton sailing on the former ship. As can be seen from the instructions given to Lieutenant Hoyles, the authorities endeavoured to make the long voyage as bearable as possible for the settlers. He was instructed “to pay every attention to their comfort and convenience, to allow them to make at their own Expense any little alterations in the accommodation, or to convert their Hammocks into Cots or provide a sick berth, also to afford the Females and Children that special protection which their Sex and Age demand, & to perform Divine Service on board every Sunday.” He was also informed of the medical assistance to be provided, of the religious books, medicines and medical comforts supplied and how these were to be disposed of at the end of the voyage, and how the settlers were to be victualled – the women and children were to be supplied with tea and sugar in lieu of spirits.

The other parties who sailed on the Ocean were Dixon’s from London, consisting of eleven men, eleven women and twenty-seven children; Morgan’s, also from London, consisting of nine men, nine women and fourteen children; and Howard’s from Buckinghamshire, consisting of fifteen men, eleven women and thirty-three children. The Ocean thus carried 196 settlers consisting of sixty men, thirty-seven women and ninety-seven children.

The Ship Ocean used to ferry the Damants to the Cape

Damant and his party went on board the Ocean after the 26th. The exact date of her departure from Deptford is unknown, but she left Gravesend for Deal on 13 December 1819, under the command of Harris Davis.

During December the departure from Ramsgate harbour of several settler families bound for the Cape, by a passage vessel from London, was described as follows: “The moment of parting formed an exceedingly interesting and most affecting spectacle, both the Pier-heads being crowded with friends of the emigrants, anxious to express their wishes and the final separating adieu. Upwards of a thousand persons were assembled on the occasion, who, to the cheers of the party emigrating, returned a hearty three time three and tarried on the pier-heads until the waving of the handkerchiefs of the voyagers were no longer visible.” This description must have been typical of many a parting scene.

On 15 December the Ocean arrived in the Downs off Deal where she waited with the rest of the outward bound for a favourable wind to take them round to Portsmouth. Sometimes ships waited there for as long as three months, though not always in the same spot. A ship would leave the anchorage, perhaps do forty miles, the wind would change, and back she would come; or the wind would drop and she would come back to Deal on the tide. During this time all the food and water on board was often consumed and fresh supplies had to be bought from the boatmen off Deal. If money ran out, the masters had to sell some of their cargo to their suppliers and during these transactions the Customs officers would try to seize the goods.

The anchorage off Deal is the safest one offshore between Gillingham Reach and the Isle of Wight. The Goodwin Sands, which are built up by an eastward drift of sands from the tide coming up the English Channel which meets the waters of the North Sea off Deal, have always been a source of great danger – a danger compounded by the Sands constantly changing shape, and woe betide the ship caught in a south westerly or a west gale if her anchor did not hold!

The following day, Saturday the 16th, the Ocean was joined by the Northampton, Robert Charlton, and about one o’clock that afternoon several of the outward bound set sail, but about twenty, among them the Ocean and Northampton remained as the wind was still unfavourable. The next morning the wind blew a gale; fortunately, the ships which had not sailed had ridden the lee tide out well, except that some had dragged their anchors a little. Several of the ships which had sailed the previous day were forced back during the gale which caused some alarm for the safety of those who had not returned as the wind would have been against them for most of the time since they had left the safety of the Downs. The fears for the safety of those who had not returned proved to be well founded, for on the morning after the gale it was discovered that four vessels had been driven onto the Goodwin Sands.

By the 20th the wind was still unfavourable, but the following day, with a gentle easterly breeze, the whole of the outward bound at last set sail for their different destinations.    One can imagine the joy of the settlers to be on the way to their new country at last; but their joy was to be short-lived for during the night of the 21st the wind suddenly backed in to the south­ west and blew strongly with the result that the whole of the outward bound was compelled to return to the Downs.

On the 23rd they were joined by the Importer, Brown, with troops and government stores for the Cape. At five that afternoon the outward bound was once again preparing to sail and from an account left by one of the settlers, William Howard, it appears that they finally left the Downs on Christmas Day, ten days after having arrived there.

The Ocean and Northampton put into Portsmouth on 27 December to enable the latter vessel to take on more ballast as she had too tiny to carry full sail which could result in her being keeled over by the wind and it would therefore have been dangerous for her to proceed. The Transport Board was anxious for the ships to reach their destination as soon as possible and this unscheduled stop resulted in a letter to the Agent at Portsmouth, the day after the ships put in there, directing him to order Lieutenant Hoyles to proceed immediately with the Ocean alone, if the Northampton was not ready to put to sea. In addition, a letter was addressed to Hoyles personally, directing him to proceed “forthwith” and he was “acquainted that the Board are surprised he did not proceed instead of remaining at Portsmouth. “

An incident of which three different versions have been recorded is the collision between the Ocean and the Northampton. Guybon Atherstone remembers it as occurring in the Channel. His recollection is that “…a great gale swept down upon us and our shrouds became entangled with those of the Northampton. Hatchets had to be used to cut the rigging …”    Sophia Pigot, on board the Northampton, recorded in her diary that, while they were at Portsmouth on the 28th, “The Ocean came to pay us a visit at three o’clock in the morning – Almost all the people upon deck, I fast asleep, the Ship a little injured.”

Another settler, Thomas Stubbs, who also sailed on the Northampton, records it as taking place in the Bay of Biscay where, “… about midnight a terrific storm came across us. The vessel laboured heavily through the huge waves that opposed her progress. The masts creaked the timbers groaned, and the wind whistled through the rigging. In the midst of this another ship, called the Ocean, … crossed our stem and took away all our cabin windows.“37 The account by Atherstone was written many years later – he was recalling what had happened when he was but six years old. Similarly, Stubbs’ account was also written years after an event which occurred when he was ten.

Under the circumstances, Sophia Pigott’s contemporary version must be preferred, especially as it is known that the Northampton was “crank” when she put into Portsmouth. From Sophia’s account it appears that the collision was but a minor one and as the period was one of severe gales when many ships were wrecked and lives lost, it is not surprising that it was not reported in the local newspaper.

Both ships sailed on New Year’s Day 1820, the local newspaper reporting that they had sailed for Liverpool to take on board settlers for the Cape, while Lloyd’s reported that the Ocean was bound for Bristol. There is, however, no record that she called at Liverpool, or Bristol. Her next port of call, after dropping her pilot at Tor Bay, where William Howard’s little farewell ceremony took place, was Porto Praya (Praia – the capital of the Cape Verde Islands) on St. Jago (Sao Tiago) Island. This is confirmed by the Register of Arrivals and Departures of Ships which was kept at the Cape wherein it is recorded that she left Portsmouth on 1 January 1820 and Sao Tiago on 31 January. (According to Howard she was still at Praia on 10 February.)

The authorities at Praia had endless problems with pirates and the commander there addressed a number of letters to his superiors in Lisbon requesting assistance to protect the islands and their shipping lanes from them. He reported, for example, on 18 January 1820 that an armed schooner had heaved to without showing her colours. The ship was fired at and shortly afterwards an English brigantine was seen which they chased, but which managed to stay out of the range of their guns. Another two shots were fired at the schooner which later took off in full sail with the English flag flying. That same night, at about two o’clock in the morning, another ship was sighted at the entrance to the port.   Her manoeuvres made them suspicious and they fired upon her whereupon she immediately turned back. It was later confirmed that she had been a pirate ship. In his report the commander does not mention that any ship was damaged by the firing of the guns, and though Howard’s account of an incident which took place at Praia differs in some respects, one wonders whether this is not the incident to which he refers?

According to Howard, at one o’clock in the morning, while the Ocean was anchored off Praia, the battery on the shore discharged three balls, the first of which passed through the rigging of the ship while the second smashed through her side into the storeroom. The third fell into the sea, only a short distance away. As can be imagined, this astounding event caused great excitement and apprehension aboard. The explanation which was given to him the following morning was that the battery had fired upon a vessel which was mistakenly thought to have hostile intentions and that one of the balls had accidentally hit the Ocean. From what he was told, it later transpired that the boat which had been fired upon belonged to an East lndiaman which was riding at anchor in the bay, the crew of which were endeavouring to land contraband goods.

The Northampton reached Table Bay on 26 March 1820 and the Ocean arrived there three days later, the latter sailing on to Algoa Bay on 7 April, where she arrived on Saturday, 15 April, the journey having taken four months.

Early Days

Once Damant’s party had been brought ashore (the settlers were lowered into lighters, rowed into the surf and then carried ashore on the backs of soldiers of the 72nd Regiment, or of black men), Edward Damant saw to it that the members were settled in their tents in the tent-town on the sand dunes, while his brother, John, saw to their baggage and other possessions. Once the party had settled in, John left with other members of his family for Cradock’s Town.The location which had been assigned to Damant’s party was on the site of the old Waaiplaats Barracks at the source of the Kaffir Kraal River. The parties from the Chapman and the Nautilus left Algoa Bay on 17 April and Bailie’s party from the Chapman reached its location, which was not far from Waaiplaats (about twenty-five kilometres as the crow flies), after a journey of eight days. George Barker, a missionary stationed at Bethelsdorp, recorded in his diary on 28 April that he had ridden to the Bay to see the Ocean party. Assuming that Damant’s party left for its location shortly thereafter, it would have reached Waaiplaats towards the middle of May.

The location was to be divided between Damant’s and Dixon’s parties and from a statement made by John Damant (which is corroborated by George Marsden, a member of Dixon’s party), both Damants were present at Waaiplaats when this was done by drawing lots.  Edward must, however, have left for Cradock’s Town shortly thereafter for on 15 May 1820 he addressed a memorial from there to the Acting Governor, Sir Rufane Donkin, wherein he requested that he be allowed a grant of land contiguous to his brothers’ property at the Gamtoos in exchange for that already allotted to him “which, independent of the pleasure of being near his Family, would enable him to do more justice to the Land, from mutual assistance to each other.” He also mentions in the memorial that he has “two Brothers settled in this District at Camptoes River, one of whom came out in Conjunction with him.”

On the dorse of the memorial there is a penciled note, apparently the Acting Governor’s instructions to the Deputy Colonial Secretary, Henry Ellis, regarding the reply to be made to Damant. Sir Rufane was clearly not pleased to learn that it had never been John Damant’s intention to settle on the eastern frontier for it looks as though the original note was fairly long and rather on the sharp side, judging from what is left of it, which reads, “This is in fact getting …… stating official reasons for …” However, the writer apparently had second thoughts for he erased it in favour of “A Civil Answer to Mr. Damant.” So on the 19th Ellis, on behalf of the Acting Governor, who was then in Albany, replied civilly from Grahamstown that the purpose of providing free passages to the settlers was to locate them in “certain Districts and on certain waste Lands” and consequently, as the exchange of lands would not meet this object, the request had to be declined. Damant would only be entitled to the land which had already been assigned to him and in proportion to the numbers located there. However, Ellis continued, His Excellency had no objection to Damant transferring the members of his party to the Gamtoos River, leaving the location at the disposal of Government for some other party of settlers. The fact that Ellis mentioned in his reply that Damant would only be entitled to land at Waaiplaats “in proportion to the numbers there located“, taken with the possibility that the discharge certificate of Purvis (a member of Damant’s party) was signed by John Damant on 17 May 1820 at Lammas, and taking Edward Damant’s memorial of 15 May into consideration, indicates that only the members of the party engaged by Edward went with him to Waaiplaats, while others, presumably those engaged by John, went with the latter to Lammas. Also, John Atherstone always claimed to have been an independent settler; he was the official surgeon on the Ocean, and it is extremely unlikely that he and his family would have gone to Waaiplaats, especially as they had been looking forward to forming “a happy family party at the New Lammas.”

Edward was at “Wayplatz” when he received the letter from Ellis, on the same day as it had been written. He immediately wrote back to Ellis requesting him to thank the Acting Governor for permission to withdraw his party from the location, “which I shall avail myself of the first opportunity“. His further request that the Governor should not forget his request, should he feel disposed at any future period to grant land in the area of the Gamtoos River, was probably not very well received.

Damant and his party then left the location and began the long trek to the Gamtoos River. The section of Waaiplaats which had been allocated to Damant’s party was subsequently allocated to James Thomas Erith who had led a party from Surrey and had sailed in the Brilliant. He and his party had originally been located on land which was earmarked for commonage for the new town of Bathurst and on 18 July he was notified that he and his party were to be moved, which would indicate that Damant and his party had vacated the location prior to that date. Damant did not draw any rations for the support of his party without paying for them after he received permission to leave his location and move to the Gamtoos. He only stayed a short while at Lammas before moving to Cradock’s Town with the labourers he had engaged.

Cradock’s Town continued up to 1820 under the personal management of Frederik Korsten who advertised in The Cape Town Gazette on 17 June 1820 that the property was to be sold or let, as he was anxious to retire. On 25 July Samuel Eusebius Hudson announced that he had taken over Korsten’s premises at Cradock’s Town, but he seems to have been back in Cape Town by the end of 1822. By October 1820 Edward Damant had entered into a partnership with Thomas Pullen and they had taken over Korsten’s stock of cattle at Cradock’s Town. There is also evidence that Edward was at Cradock’s Town in January and August 1821, and also in December of that year. So it would seem that he took over some of Korsten’s many enterprises while his brothers John and Tom continued the farming operations at Lammas. John was definitely still at Lammas in May 1821.

A request by John Damant on 16 April 1821, made from “Camtoes River, Uitenhage,” for the grant of a piece of land adjoining his property there, was unsuccessful and a search of the Returns of Grants of Land for the period 1814 to 1823 has confirmed that the Damants were not granted any land during that period.

According to Edward, the Lammas venture was not a success due to the failure of the crops and as early as February 1821 the Damant brothers were advertising that they would let plots on the Gamtoos at Lammas. They do not appear to have had much response and by June that year they were subdividing the property and selling it off with the London Missionary Society buying the largest portion for the purposes of a mission station.  Another purchaser was Philip Frost, one of Damant’s party, who bought 610 morgen and 513 square feet for almost £325 in June 1821. The transfer of the land was registered in the following March.

After the property had been sold, John also moved to Cradock’s Town. He was there from at least May 1822. During August 1821 Edward Damant requested the Governor to repay the third instalment of the deposit money to him (the first had been repaid to the heads of parties on landing the settlers and the second on their being located on the land assigned to the party – clearly an incentive for Damant to take at least some of his party to the location and not directly to Lammas). He was evidently still in bad odour for having abandoned his location and taking his party off to Lammas, for on the corner of his memorial is written in pencil, “Mr. Damant should have Justice done to him – but he has no claim to Indulgence from this Govmt.

That the Damants were experiencing financial difficulties is borne out by the fact that John Damant had held a public sale in November 1821 at Uitenhage and had been obliged to borrow money from the Vendue Master pending the settlement of the sale. In July 1822 G. Smets of Port Elizabeth addressed a letter to the landdrost of Uitenhage requesting him to interdict Damant, then still a partner in Pullen & Damant, from leaving the Uitenhage district until satisfactory security had been given for a claim of Rds. 1067-2-3 just over £80) which he had instituted against Damant. He feared that he would lose his money if he did not get security “from a Person who will probably soon go to England …” Did he fear that Damant might skip the country to avoid his creditors? Seven months later, in February 1823, Edward and Tom Damant were in fact in Cape Town, preparing to go to England. John died at Cradock’s Town on 22 April 1825.

In order to ascertain whether Damant’s party was a proprietary party: one in respect of which the grant of land would be made to the head of the party to whom the party members were presumably contracted to serve for a number of years and who had paid the deposits for the members; or a joint stock party: one in which each member paid his own deposit and received a share in the land which was granted to the nominal head, it may be best to look at the position of each individual member thereof, other than the Damants and the Atherstones, to see what his position was vis-a-vis the head of the party when he applied for a colonial pass. These were required up to 1823 if a member wished to leave his location and in order to obtain one he had to obtain a Discharge Certificate from the head of his party.

Liquor trade
By early 1822 Richard Tee had established the “Norfolk Hotel” at the ford of the Gamtoos, on the side of the river opposite Hankey. This, as may be imagined, caused the missionaries, who had bought a portion of Lammas from the Damants, quite a few headaches as it was feared that the hotel would have a bad effect on the “most unsteady” of the Hottentots at the mission station. According to John Monro of the Bethelsdorp Mission Station, the hotel was “much frequented by a set of English who are very indifferent Characters.

There is record of an application on 30 December 1823 by John Damant’s father-in-law, Frederik Korsten, on John’s behalf, for the latter to be granted a wholesale Cape wine and spirit licence in the District of Uitenhage, near Port Elizabeth. John is further recorded as being the holder of a wine licence for the country district of Uitenhage in 1824. He was probably Richard’s supplier.

Sources

A Genealogy of the Tee Family of Norfolk by Brian Tee Senior (1998, Perth, Western Australia)

Addendum number 1: Passenger list of Damant’s party

For reasons which will soon become clear, the names on this list were highly volatile and were only settled immediately prior to sailing.

By 20 September Edward had not had a reply from the Colonial Office and so he wrote again from Blackheath, asking for an answer as the men he had engaged were distressed “beyond measure” at the uncertainty of their situation. Michaelmas (29 September), the traditional time for hiring workers for the ensuing year, was fast approaching and unless the men were advised as to whether or not his proposal had been agreed to, they would not know whether or not to renew their existing employment and faced the prospect of being unemployed the whole of the ensuing winter.

On 23 September John and Edward’s sister, Elizabeth, who was married to John Atherstone, wrote to her brother John’s wife at Cape Town, expressing the hope that they would “ere many months, be united and form a happy family party at the New Lammas …” She also spoke of the “domestic and substantial comfort likely to be found in the Circle at Lammas” and mentioned that she hoped that before her brother (Edward) sent the packet, “he may have an answer from the Government. He is now anxiously expecting it in Town.”

On receiving a circular from the Colonial Office accepting his application to take twenty-three settlers to the Cape, Edward immediately went to Fakenham in Norfolk (where another brother had a medical practice) so that he could send in a correct list of the people who were to accompany him. On his arrival there, he wrote on 8 October to the Colonial Office, he had found that many more people wished to go to the Cape, “and men of good character, strong and healthy” they were. He inquired whether it would be necessary for him to submit a fresh application to include them in the list which he was required to forward to the Office and whether, by taking out fifty settlers, he might be allowed a passage for his surgeon as a medical man would be a necessity with so many families?

However, by early October “an adequate selection … of those whom it is possible for the Government to accommodate during the present year” had already been made from the “immense number” of applications which had been received and consequently, on the 9th of that month, Damant was advised that, while it would be in order for him to be accompanied by his brother-in-law, it was not possible for his list to be extended. As it was felt that the success of the settlers mainly depended upon their arriving at the Cape in time for the planting season, a period was fixed after which no new applications were to be received (this was waived to a certain extent in respect of the Nottinghamshire settlers).

On 14 October Edward sent in a “correct” list, in triplicate – nothing seems to have changed so far as Government departments are concerned! – of the proposed settlers. He had, unfortunately, been unable to obtain an exact description of the men who were obtaining pensions, he wrote, but he had marked them in the list.

The second list is on the official form (the first was not), and is virtually a new list and (other than Damant and Atherstone) contains only three, possibly four, of the names on the first list: John Cook, William Hewitt, John Wells and John Elmer who is possibly the same person as John Elmor in the first list, even though his wife’s name is given as Susannah, 29, and his children as Robert, 1, and Elizabeth, 4; and nineteen new names:

This list is headed “RETURN of SETTLERS proceeding to the Cape of Good Hope under the direction of Mr. Edward Damant of Fakenham, Norfolk, with Wife and two Children & Mr. Atherstone, Surgeon with Wife and four Children”.

The Colonial Office acknowledged receipt of the new list on the 16th and informed Damant that, as the list did not specify the full names and ages of the members of his and Atherstone’s families, the further set of returns, which were enclosed, would have to be completed. So far as the two pensioners were concerned, unless he could provide details of their former regiments, present addresses, amount of pensions and the Department from which they received them, it would not be possible to provide for them to receive their pensions at the Cape.

So on 18 October Edward forwarded another list, again in triplicate, “fill’d up agreeably to your directions”, which he said he hoped was correct. He also sent in an account of the men receiving pensions, but he still did not have all their particulars.28 This list is the same as the previous list, except that the heading has been changed to read that the settlers were being taken out under the direction of “Edward Damant Esq. of Fakenham, Norfolk”, and his and his brother-in-law’s names and their families have been added to the body of the list. (The names were: Edward Damant 33; his wife Mary 24; their children Ann 13 and Louisa 2; John Atherstone (Surgeon) 29; his wife Elizabeth 37; and their children Guybon 5, Catherine 4, Elizabeth 3 and Emily 2.) It was on this list that the deposit was paid. Two copies of the list were retained by the Colonial Office while the third was forwarded to the Commissioners of the Navy on 9 November.

Henry Goulburn, the Colonial Secretary, wrote to the Commissioners of the Navy on 26 October that a considerable number of persons from various parts of the country had been granted permission to proceed to the Cape with Government assistance. The Commissioners were immediately to provide the means for their conveyance and support during the voyage on the same principles which regulated the transport and victualling of the King’s troops. He included an estimate of the number of settlers, together with their expected ports of embarkation and mentioned that each single settler was to be allowed one ton (measurement)31 for his baggage, while a settler accompanied by his family was to be allowed two tons.

As it was considered necessary that medical assistance should be available for the settlers during the voyage, no ship was to sail unless she had a surgeon on board. A pernsal of the various returns submitted by the settlers showed that they contained the names of several medical persons and Earl Bathurst, the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, Goulburn continued, saw no reason why their services should not be made available for their fellow settlers, especially as some of them had indicated that they were willing to render medical assistance to such of the settlers who might require it. The Commissioners were therefore to make a “convenient distribution” of the medical persons (whose names and an indication of the field in which they practiced would be forwarded later) among the settlers.

Early in November Goulburn forwarded a general return to the Commissioners and advised that detailed lists would be forwarded from time to time, as soon as the settlers had completed their arrangements and complied with the regulations which applied to the scheme (for example, the Commissioners were not instructed by the Colonial Office to allocate any settlers to a ship until the deposit had been paid).33 The return also contained the names of the medical men who were to accompany the settlers and the Commissioners were to distribute them among the settlers as required (Atherstone is shown as accompanying Damant). Goulburn stated further that Earl Bathurst was of the opinion that it was not necessary to make any allowance to the medical men and that it should be left to their fellow passengers to reimburse them for their advice and services.   An assortment of medicines would, however, be placed on every ship and would be under the charge of the medical person on board. On landing in the Colony, the medical supplies were to be handed to the medical settlers to provide for the immediate needs of the settlers – this was under no circumstances to be done before the completion of the voyage.

So far as the cabins on the ships were concerned, a person taking out not less than fifty persons was to be allowed the accommodation of the cabin; where there were several small parties on board the same vessel, the cabin should be given to the females “above the class of common Settlers.”   However, if any of the heads of parties were dissatisfied with such an arrangement, they were to be allowed (with the consent of the Master of the vessel) to erect any temporary accommodation which “they may conceive necessary to their comfort and convenience.“ As most of the settlers were prepared to take beds with them, it was not considered necessary to provide these, but nevertheless, a limited supply of bedding was to be placed on board the vessels to provide for unforeseen circumstances and wants.

By 3 November Damant had paid the required deposit of £282 10s. to the Treasury for himself and his party and had obtained a receipt, and on that day he wrote again from Fakenham inquiring as to the name of the ship that he and his party were to sail in, and also the day the settlers were to be at Deptford, as it would take some time to get them all together. He also requested the privilege of being able to take a breeding horse and a Devon bull or two with him. As this was contrary to regulations, the request was refused.)

The reply he received must have advised him to have his party at Deptford towards the end of November, for on the 21st of that month he wrote from Blackheath to the Colonial Office informing it that he and his party had been allocated to the Ocean Transport. However, there was “some little” alteration in the names on the list “in consequence of men who were pensioners and were ordered to join at the several depots and two or three who have fallen sick”. All the places had been filled by men of the same description, but of different names and ages. Consequently, some objections were raised to taking these men on board. He requested that directions be given that the party, which was then at Deptford, be received. The following has been noted on his letter: “Note the changes and if unobjectionable orders will be given accordingly”.

This letter was received by the Colonial Office on the 23rd and on the same day a reply was despatched advising Damant that it would be necessary for him to call at the Office to provide details of the people replacing those who could no longer go.  This Damant did and once it had been established that the changes were “unobjectionable”, they were duly noted and on 26 November the Colonial Secretary advised the Commissioners of the Navy that, as many of the persons who were to have gone with Damant had “refused to accompany” him, they had been replaced by others in the return which he forwarded with his letter.

So Damant’s party waited at Deptford for about a week before its members were allowed to go aboard the Ocean shortly after 26 November.

After Damant had called at the Colonial Office to provide details of the alterations to be made to the list, the following names were deleted: Henry Alford, Joseph Browning, John Cook, Henry Craske, Richard Dawes, John Elmer, William Green, William Groom, William Hewitt, John Page and John Utting. The following names were inserted:

Besides the fact that there was “some little alteration in the names in the List”, there was another problem: when the deposit had been paid there were twenty-five men, seven women and twenty-five children, but now there were only twenty-two men and six women (but still the same number of children) as a result of the changes and some decisions to join the party must have been made at a very late stage (the Tees’ for example). This would account for the fact that some of the details with which Damant provided the Colonial Office were incorrect – clearly some of the people were strangers to him.

A comprehensive list of the party was prepared and is supposed to be the list of the people who actually sailed.42 It is basically the list provided by Damant on 14 October, as altered, except that four new names were added: Thomas Sterley 19, Husbandman; Thomas Males 18, Shoemaker; John Price 25, Husbandman; and Catherine, the wife of John Jacobs, bringing the total number of adult settlers once more to thirty-three. Unfortunately, neither Males nor Price lived to see the Cape as they both died at sea, as did little Harriet Smith. Males died on 10 March 1820, Price on 14 February 1820 and Harriet during February 1820.

It is not known how “correct” Damant’s earlier lists were: the last one definitely contains some errors. For example, his wife, Mary, did not sail with the party;44 Ann Damant was his niece (the daughter of his brother, Tom), not his daughter; “J.” Cooper turned out to be George Cooper though he is listed as John Cooper in the list prepared by the Agent of Transport; Richard Tee’s wife’s name was Sarah and his daughters were Frances Ann, Susan Esther and Elizabeth Mary; and of course all ages and occupations given must be treated with caution. For instance, Richard Tee was actually a gardener, and he was twenty-eight in 1819, not thirty­ four.

Only five persons in the first list, Atherstone, Damant, Durell, Lake and Wells emigrated. Strangely enough, Lake’s name is omitted from the second and the third list and is inserted in the fourth. Cook and Hewitt appear in the first, second and third lists and their names have been deleted from the fourth – whether they changed their names at the last minute or had fallen ill is unknown. Of the twenty-five men on the second list, fourteen emigrated. John Damant’s name is only entered in the final list, in the place of someone whose name has been deleted. That he had been very active in the recruiting of labour is evident from the fact that the names of people who were engaged by him already appear in the second list.

Addendum number 2: Status of Discharge Certificates

COOPER, George: His discharge certificate was signed at Cradock’s Town by Edward Damant on 17 December 1821. In it Damant states that Cooper went to the Cape in the place of Henry Alford and that he “is free from my Service.”

DURELL, Henry: No certificate has been traced.

FRANCIS, John: His certificate was signed by Edward Damant at “Craddocks Town” on 14 January 1821. The certificate states that Francis is “at liberty to depart from my Service and I do hereby discharge him from any claim I had on him as head of a Party under contract to work for me for five years.

FROST, Philip: The only evidence regarding his relationship with the Dan1ants which has been located is contained in a memorial which he addressed to the Governor from Uitenhage on 21 January 1822 from which it appears that he bought part of the Damants’ land at the Gamtoos in June 1821. As he paid almost £325 for the land, it is clear that he was not an indentured labourer. In fact, one of the other members of the party, Thompson, was in his employ.32

GIBBON, Edward: His certificate was signed by John Damant at Lammas on 15 May 1821 and states that “Edward Gibbons [sic] is free from my service.” The certificate also served the purpose of a reference as it states that he is “a steady hardworking young man, and well deserving a Colonial Pass.” It was countersigned by Edward as the head of the party.

HAMES, Joseph: No certificate has been traced.

JACOBS, John: No certificate has been traced.

LAKE, John: No certificate has been traced.

LAWSON, Philip: No certificate has been traced.

MATIHEWS, John: His certificate was signed at Lammas on 17 May 1821 by John Damant. It states that he is “free from Service” and he was given the same reference as Gibbon.

PURVIS, Henry: His certificate was signed at Lammas by John Damant and merely states that “Mr. Henry Purvis is perfectly free from my service.” Unfortunately, the date is no longer legible – it is either 17 May or 17 August 1820. When Captain Trappes, the provisional Magistrate at Bathurst, submitted a request for a colonial pass on behalf of Purvis, it was accompanied by a renunciation by Purvis of “all Claim on Mr. Damant on account of Land or otherwise, being discharged from his Service.” The renunciation was signed at Bathurst on 14 October 1820. For some reason the pass was not forthcoming and on 24 May 1821 Purvis addressed a memorial to the Governor, again requesting a pass. The fact that he stated in the memorial that he had resided with Mr. Rafferty in Grahamstown as a storekeeper for twelve months indicates that the date the certificate was given must have been 17 May.

SMITH, Stephen: His certificate was signed “T. & J. Damant” at Lammas on 8 February 1821 and was countersigned by Edward as head of the party. It states that Smith, “having fulfilled his engagement with us, is hereby free from all Service and has permission to go when he pleases.”

STERLEY, Thomas: A certificate that “Thomas Sturley [sic] is free from my Service …” was signed by Edward Damant at Uitenhage on 8 June 1822. It is not certain which Thomas Sterley this relates to, if indeed there were three individual settlers by that name. In any event, the elder Thomas Sterley, when he wrote to the Colonial Secretary on 22 October 1819 from Billingford, Norfolk, requesting permission to take his wife and seven children with him to the Cape, mentioned that he had “engaged to serve Messrs. Damant of the Cape of Good Hope as a labourer for the term of five years ..” In a memorial addressed to the Governor on 6 January 1825 from Uitenhage (wherein he requested to be allowed a free passage back to England), he mentioned that he had been engaged by John Damant as a servant and that he had been discharged from his service “on account of that Gentleman’s failure“.

TEE, Richard: No certificate has been traced.

THOMPSON, William: His certificate was signed at “Camtoes River” by P. Frost on 22 November 1820 and was countersigned by Edward Damant as head of the party. It is clear from the certificate, which states that Thompson “is free of my service and I have no more claim on him“, that he was in Frost’s employ, and not Damant’s.

WELLS, John: No certificate has been traced.

WHITE, William: All that has been located is a memorial of 1822 from William White, a baker then resident in Grahamstown, wherein he requests the Governor, “as times are so bad”, to allow him a ship to England at his own expense. It appears that the memorial was from William White of Mandy’s party who, in fact, did not return to England, but later moved to Port Elizabeth.

From the available information it appears that Damant’s party may be considered a proprietary party as it consisted mainly of persons who were engaged as servants or labourers, the exceptions being the Atherstones and the Frosts.

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