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Agency number: 2563
Title: Fort Wellington, Raffles Bay Settlement
Start date: 07 Apr 1826
End date: 28 Aug 1829
Category: Early Colonial Agency
Creation: Earl Bathurst to Governor Darling, Dispatch No.26 (7 April, 1826) [HRA Series 1 Vol. X11 p.224]
Abolition: Sir George Murray to Governor Darling, Dispatch No. 41 (1 November, 1828) [Series 1, Vol. XIV p. 440 - 441]

Administrative history note: In the early 1820's the British Government decided to establish a settlement in Northern Australia. John Begbie, a representative of the East India Trade Committee, and W.M.Barnes, had lobbied the British Government repeatedly in the early 1820's. The East India Trade Committee was concerned about the motion by the Dutch of higher duties on all foreign trade passing through their port in the East Indies, and the need to establish a military and commercial presence on the North coast of New Holland. (1)

A settlement was formed on the instruction of the Earl of Bathurst on Melville Island (Fort Dundas), on October 21 1824. (2) However, the settlement was considered unsatisfactory, and investigations into establishment of another site for a settlement in the area proceeded, in 1826. In a letter dated 7 April, 1826 Earl Bathurst instructed Governor Darling to investigate the formation of a new settlement on the coast to the east of the Fort Dundas, Melville Island settlement. (3)

The expedition to establish the new Settlement in Northern Australia was placed under the command of Captain James Stirling. The expedition consisting of Her Majesty's Success and the Mary Elizabeth departed Port Jackson, on 19 May 1827. (4) Captain Stirling on board HM Success arrived on Croker Island on June 15, 1827 but rejected the possibility of a settlement there, as "even a temporary settlement could not be prudently effected on that island." (5) The Success arrived at Raffles Bay on the June 17, 1827 and after exploration by Stirling, Fort Wellington was established. Possession was taken, in the form of raising the flag, and firing a salute, on 18 June 1827. (6)

On June 19, 1827 the cattle and stock were landed, and vegetable gardens subsequently established. The Fort was constructed in July 1827. The settlement population consisted principally of the Commandant Captain H.G Smyth, the Surgeon, the Storekeeper, and 30 Soldiers of the 39 Th Regiment, fourteen Marines, and 22 Convicts. (7)

Over the next year the settlement suffered from illness, such as scurvy. Captain Smyth retired as commandant of the settlement due to sickness, in April 1828 (8), and Captain Collett Barker eventually replaced him in August 1828. (9) The settlement was unsuccessful in attracting any trade from the Malays, although some of their Proas (Ships) had passed through the Bowen Straits near the settlement in February 1828. On November 1, 1828 George Murray instructed Governor Darling to abandon the settlements in Northern Australia. The reason given in the dispatch was the lack of any substantial trade with the islands of the Eastern archipelago, the sickness suffered by settlement residents, and the difficulty in supplying provisions to the settlement. (10)

The Melville Island Settlement had been abandoned in March 1829, its stocks and stores transferred to Raffles Bay, and personnel transferred back to Sydney (11). On 14 May 1829 Governor Darling advised Sir George Murray of the preparations underway to withdraw the Raffles Bay settlement. (12) The entire settlement departed for the Swan River settlement, Western Australia by 28 August 1829. (13)

Footnotes
(1) A.H.Chisolm, (Editor - in - Chief) Australian Encyclopaedia, Vol. 6 . "Marsupials to Parliament ", Angus and Robertson Ltd, Sydney, 1958 p.363
(2) F.Watson (Editor) Historical Records of Australia, Series 111, Vol. V, Library Committee of Commonwealth Parliament, Sydney, 1919 p.772
(3) F.Watson (Editor) Historical Records of Australia, Series 1 Vol. X11, Library Committee of Commonwealth Parliament, Sydney, 1919 p.224
(4) F. Watson (Editor) Historical Records of Australia, Series 1, Vol. X111, Library Committee of Commonwealth Parliament, Sydney, 1919 p.315
(5) F.Watson (Editor) Historical Records of Australia, Series 111, Vol. V, Library Committee of Commonwealth Parliament, Sydney, 1919 p.809
(6) Ibid p. 810
(7) Ibid p. 815
(8) F.Watson (Editor) Historical Records of Australia, Series 111, Vol. V1. Library Committee of Commonwealth Parliament, Sydney, 1919 p.807
(9) Ibid. p. 817
(10) F.Watson (Editor) Historical Records of Australia, Series 1, Vol. XIV, Library Committee of Commonwealth Parliament, Sydney, 1919 p.410 - 411
(11) Op Cit. Australian Encyclopeadia p.363
(12) F.Watson (Editor) Historical Records of Australia, Series 1, Vol XIV, Library Committee of Commonwealth Parliament, Sydney, 1919 p.743
(13) F.Watson (Editor) Historical Records of Australia, Series 111, Vol. V1. Library Committee of Commonwealth Parliament, Sydney, 1919 p.841

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Preceding agencies:
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Succeeding agencies:
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Superior agencies:
None

Subordinate agencies:
None

Related agencies:
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Functions exercised by this agency:
6 Primary Industries  07 Apr 1826 ~ 28 Aug 1829 

Organisations controlling this agency:
1 Colony of New South Wales  07 Apr 1826 ~ 28 Aug 1829 

Persons related to this agency:
None

Record series created by this agency:
4206 Copies of returns sent by the Commandant  24 Apr 1828 ~ 24 Aug 1829 

Record series controlled by this agency:
None

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