Showing posts from October, 2014

Overlanders #2: Watson and Hunter (B)

Drovers and Dealers 1835-1845
Watson and Hunter (B)

The story of the overlanding firm of Watson and Hunter is. in brief, a big 'noise' followed by a big 'crash'. The first element is described here by the squatter, and successful competitor, George Russell of Clyde Company, and overlander and employee of Watson and Hunter Edward Bell. The second element is explored through a comprehensive newspaper report of the final court case in the saga. The judgment of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, on appeal from the Resident Judge of Port Phillip, supplies an overview of the firm from its Scottish beginnings in 1838 to the final desperate acts of its colonial principal in 1842.

1. A big 'noise'

PL Brown (ed.), [1881] 1935, The Narrative of George Russell of Golf Hill, OUP, London (Part II, The Clyde Company: Port Phillip 1836-50, Chapter XVIII, Speculation, pp 194-5)

"...[In 1839] Mr James Watson brought out a considerable amount of capital with him...e…

Overlanders #1: Watson and Hunter (A)

Drovers and Dealers 1835-1850
Watson and Hunter (A)

This series complements Bass Strait Traders, in the sense that the livestock introduced to the Western District plains by the squatters, either came over the Strait in ships from Van Diemen's Land, or were walked overland from the settled districts of New South Wales. In the earlier series it was predominantly sheep in sailing ships like the HENRY and the NORVAL that were especially fitted out with pens and tanks to make the passage. In this series the main stock brought overland, at least in the early stages of migration, were cattle and horses.

The interlocutors for this first post on the overlanding firm of Watson and Hunter are two young men: an 18 year old Edinburgh youth, Alexander Hunter (Alick), and his London acquaintance Edward Bell. Both were as green as grass when they first came out, both quickly learnt to be accomplished bushmen, and both failed to learn sufficient business skills to make good of their oppor…