the article The
Royal Veterans in Australia by
R. H. Montague, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society,
December 1982, Vol. 68 Pt 3, pp 238-246 it provides the following
information on the establishment of the first Veteran Company but does
not mention the second time it was established.
first Veteran Company was established in 1810. When Lachlan Macquarie
arrived he quickly turned his attention to matters of defence.
The 73rd Regiment, which had sailed with him from England, was
greatly under strength and Macquarie hoped that its numbers might be
augmented by volunteers from the out-going regiment, the 102nd, formerly
the notorious New South Wales Corps.
The age limit for transfer into the 73rd was thirty-five and the
Governor was well aware that the vast majority of 102nd men were past
that age. The solution was
to form the older men into an Invalid or Veteran company and the British
government readily agreed, especially when it could see a saving in
expenditure. A dispatch
from Governor Macquarie was worded in the following terms:
great number of Old soldiers of the 102nd who had served long in the
Country wishing to remain in it on Account of Connexions they have
formed with Convict Women, and by whom they have had Children.
I have taken the Responsibility upon Myself of forming them into
an Invalid or Veteran Company for the Service of the Colony, until His
Majesty's Pleasure shall be known: and I trust Your Lordship will be
pleased to move the King to be graciously pleased to sanction and
approve of the Measure. I
have made the Establishment of the Invalid Company One Hundred Rank and
File with the usual Proportion of Serjeants and Drummers, to be under
the Command and Charge of an Officer of the 73rd Regiment until I shall
receive orders from home respecting it.
Independent of gratifying these poor Old Soldiers in permitting
them to remain with their Families, and in a Country they are much
attached to, the Measure will be a very Considerable Saving to the Crown
as from their great Length of Service, most of them having served
between twenty and thirty Years, they would be entitled to very high
Pensions on their arrival at home and being discharged for very few of
them would be found fit for Service in a Cold Climate.'
was given on the condition that the Veteran Company was to be attached
to the 73rd Regiment or any other regiment which might be doing duty in
the Colony. The War Office decreed also that it should be dressed in the
same manner as the 73rd except that the dark green collars and cuffs
would be replaced by those made of dark blue cloth which distinguishes a
Montague does not say when this company was disbanded, except to say
that in 1817 Governor Macquarie urged the War Office to disband the
Company because the men were 'generally quite worn out through Long
Service, age or infirmities'. But
no action was taken. In
1822 Governor Brisbane made a similar appeal but once again no response
from London. From this
article it is unclear when this first Veterans Company was disbanded. (see
above for a claim that it was 24 Sep 1882)
is no mention of a second Veteran unit being established in the 1820's. (It
is my belief that there were only ever 2 Veterans Units raised. The 1st
as above and the so called 3rd as below. The so called 2nd was in my
opinion the 1st re-organised after complaints from Macquarie in 1817.
a paper given to Mike Boyd by Mr Graham Thom on 7 February 1983 he said
he had a record of a proclamation issued on 12 September 1825 in London
(reference not known and given to him by a Canberra Society member).
Majesty, King George IV, has approved the formation of three Veteran
Companies, for service in New South Wales and Van Dieman's Land .....
for the purpose of being employed as superintendents and overseers of
convicts in addition to their military duty, and such companies should
consist of volunteers of the out-pensions (of Chelsea hospital), who
shall have borne good characters while in the army, whose subsequent
conduct shall have been such as to recommend them for the service in
question; a preference however being given to those pensioners who were
discharged as non commissioned officers, or who have acted in that
is hereby given that such out-pensioners of the aforesaid description as
reside in London or its neighbourhood, and may be desirous of
volunteering their services in the said companies, are to signify their
intentions to the Field Officer who will be appointed to examine them,
and who will attend at the board room of the Hospital for that purpose
between the hours of ten o'clock in the forenoon, and three o'clock in
the afternoon, on the undermentioned days, viz.
such out-pensioners are at the same time to produce to the said field
officer certificates from the minister and officers of the parish where
they reside, or from some other respectable persons, to the effect that
their conduct and habits have been such as to qualify them for the
employment above described.
consideration of the duties to be assigned to the volunteers who may be
selected for this service, they will be allowed full pay of cavalry,
with free rations; and they will likewise, in case of their reverting to
the out-pension at any future period, be allowed to reckon the term they
may have served in the said companies, in addition to their previous
service in the army, with a view to obtaining any increase of pension to
which such additional service may entitle under the regulation now in
is to be observed that this notice does not extend
to such men as by the hospital books exceed fifty years of age,
or who have lost a limb, or who labour under any serious bodily
eligible in other respects will not be objected to
on account of their having families, if not too numerous.
order of the Lords and other Commissioners.
Richard Neave, Secretary and Registrar.'12
the Australian Joint Copying Project series WO12, reel 3917, piece 11230
under the Muster Lists for the Royal New South Wales Veteran Company it
had the following memorandum at the beginning of the Muster Rolls
original New South Wales Veteran Company was disbanded in 1823. (see
above for claim it was 24 Sept 1882)
New South Wales Veteran Companies were formed on the 24 September 1825. The accounts are understood to have been conduced to the
Audit Office to 24 December 1827. Pay
lists were sent to the War office from the 25op. that month.
The companies were disbanded in 1831.
present volume contains all the Pay lists of the Companies sent to the War
Office, and all the Adjutants Rolls which were ??? ordered to the War
J P ?
Royal Veterans, by R H Montague, Journal of the Australian Historical
Society, December 1982, p 242, it provided the following outline of the
conditions that were laid down for issuing land grants to Royal Veterans
were broadly the same as those applied to the First Fleet Marines some
forty years earlier. The new
conditions were set out in a Memorandum signed by Ralph Darling on 13
January 1829, and worded as follows:
being intended to discharge part of the men of the Royal Veteran
Companies, the following indulgences will be granted to such as are
desirous of settling on farms in the country:-
Each man will be allowed from 40 to 100 acres of land according to the
quality of the soil and the situation in which he may be required to
settle on his entering into a bond that he will reside on and cultivate
his land for a period of seven years on pain of forfeiture.
will be furnished with all the necessary implements of husbandry.
If married he will receive a cow from the Government herd on taking
possession of the land and a second cow at any time within three years
when he shall have cleared and stumped ten acres.
Each man will be allowed the usual rations (spirits excepted) for himself
and his family for 12 months from the day of his discharge to be issued at
or in the neighbourhood of his farm.
The ration to be forfeited if he or his family absent himself or
themselves from the farm.
A log hut will be put up for the accommodation of such men as are married.
It is intended that these men shall be located in different parts of the
Colony in small bodies of about six
in number as soon as eligible situations have been determined on, and it
is desirable that the individuals be of different trades, as being more
likely to prove generally useful to the Colony, and afford them an
opportunity of providing comfortably for themselves and families.
Signed (R. D.)"
article, p 243, said that plots of land were measured out at Oakhampton,
near Maitland, Wollombi near Cessnock, Goulburn Plains, along the banks of
the Wollondilly River and some small plots of land at Newcastle.
Extract from a
letter written by William Hunt of this town who went out at the latter end
of last year, as a private in the Royal Veteran Company, for New South
Wales. The letter is
addressed to Mr Samuel Preston of Nottingham who has obligingly favoured
us with it:-
Town, Van Dieman's Land
Friends, We had a very fine passage from Spithead to New South Wales.
We had a very fresh breeze of wind through the English Channel,
which made my daughter very sea-sick for the first fortnight, but she
never was sick afterwards; my wife never was sick at all, and it is
needless to say I never was sick. I
wrote to you before we arrived at Portsmouth and stated the particulars of
our situation on board which was very comfortable, as we had a large birth
to ourselves; we had room enough in it to put one of our boxes which we
slept in, in the birth, all the passage, and the other box we kept in the
sick-bay, so that we had all our stores under our eyes.
There were ten women brought to bed on the passage.
had the small pox and measles on board and we buried
twelve children and one women during the passage; we had very few
men sick. We anchored in
Sidney Cove the 8th of July which was four months to the day from the time
we left Spithead. We had no
particular accident occurred worthy of notice during the passage.
When we arrived at Sidney there was no place provided for our
reception but they soon set to work, and cleaned out a part of soldiery
barracks, and an orphan school that had been unoccupied for some time, so
that in two days all was ready and we went on shore, and soon made
ourselves very comfortable. As
we sung out for the grog, and got our rations, which was fresh beef, so we
struck up a tune on the frying pan and were all jovial together.
Plowright died at Sidney four months before we arrived there; she died
very suddenly. The first man
that spoke to me was a Nottingham man, to ask me if we had any from
Nottingham belonging to our corps; his heart leapt for joy when I told him
I was from Nottingham and while we were talking, John Sinter's son came
up, so they helped me with my boxes and luggage; the man's name was Daniel
Smeeton; he was 14 when he left Nottingham and was for seven years; he is
a free man this month; he was the same trade as me, but he has learned
stone-cutting since he has been in Sidney, and was getting 2 pound a week,
set wages, when I saw him. We
went to old Jack Slater's the next day, and had a jovial carouse.
is a prisoner for life but he has got a ticket of leave, so that he does
no Government work as long as he gets into no trouble; they are doing very
well. His wife has had a son
since she arrived in Sidney so that they have two sons and two daughters;
the eldest son is as tall as his father.
Sarah the eldest is at home with the others; the other daughter is
in service, in the same place as she went to when she first came into the
colony. I can assure you, by being eye-witness, a prisoner in these
colonies is no joke, for they work twelve hours a day for Government, five
days in the week and they have only Saturday for themselves, so that it is
not now as it used to be. We
were at Sidney three weeks when our company were ordered for this place
where we arrived in seventeen days. It
is 700 miles from Sidney and that nearer to England.
have very good rations, all fresh meat, beef and mutton.
My allowance is seven pounds of meat and seven pounds of bread per
week, and one quart of rum every six days
(1.2 litres) and my wife's three pounds and a half of each, and my
daughters' one-third, that is, one pound of each every third day.
Women and children are allowed no liquor - the worse for me.
We draw our liquor every Saturday, which makes a good Saturday
night, then good-bye for a week. Our
pay we receive twice a month. For
further particulars, I must refer you to Wm Shaw, in his letter.
Our kind love to your wife and Susan and her husband.
Your respectfully, Wm
the letter to Mr Shaw, referred to above, we extract the following:-
Island is divided into two counties, Cornwall and Buckinghamshire; the
assizes are held every quarter, at Launceston, and at this place (Hobart
Town). The first assizes held
here after we arrived, there were
twenty-seven cast for death, four of which were
reprieved and sent to a penal settlement for life, twenty three were
executed - on Wednesday seven, Friday seven, and on Monday nine, which
made twenty-three. There is a
drop here that they can execute twelve at a time.
We went to see the nine suffer, and such a sight we neither of us
saw before; all of them appeared to die very penitent.
They are very severe with them here, as most of their offences were
the last assizes twelve were executed and I saw all of them.
There is eleven of us here overseers over different gangs, and the
rest are all over the country; the gang that I have charge of, are in
chains, and are obliged to work with their irons on, according to the term
of their sentence, and that is commonly from one to six months each,
according to the offence, which is like crimes in the army, for being
drunk or absent. My duty with
them is to keep them close to work during the appointed time, and can
assure you that they must work hard, for if the overseer reports any of
them for neglect, they are sure of twenty-five or fifty lashes.
Their allowance of provisions is one pound of bread and the same of
meat (?) but no vegetables to their meat, so that they have none too much.
have coffee morning and night, but they say it is very bad. The work my gang does is making the town streets and
levelling and gravelling them and I have the honour
to say that I have completed the first street in Hobart Town, and I
believe there are nineteen more want completing, so that if, please God, I
live and have my health, I have three years' work cut out for me.
My superintendent told me that we were to serve three years as
overseer, and then have a grant of land given to us, equal to former
settlers, and receive our pensions here, so that these three years will
just bring me in one shilling a day, if England can afford to pay it me!
I saw and drank with John Slater at Sidney; his wife and family are
with him, doing very well; they keep a shop, and sell almost every thing,
not forgetting a "drop of the creature", but I think the old man
drinks most of the profits.
have found many Nottingham men here, and Alfred Gelding is at this place,
and in good health, doing very well, as he is a tailor, which is one of
the best trades in the colony; and Mr Lamb's son is here, he is doing very
well; and Geo. Lackenby is here, and is very well.
We heartily wish you were all as well off as we are, for, thank
God, and my lucky stars, that we don't want for the common necessaries of
life; for we have plenty to eat and drink, and a good bed to lay upon at
have also seen two other letters from William Hunt, from which we glean
the following particulars:-
is very pleasant town, and there is a good and well supplied market every
Thursday, and public houses are almost as thick together as in Nottingham;
rum is 1s the half-pint and plenty of good wine at 1s 3d per quart.
Vegetables are very dear; we had to pay 6d for one cabbage, and
potatoes are three halfpence a pound, bread 2d, meat 6d; tea, very good,
3s and sugar 4 1/2 per pound; soap and candles 1s per pound; very
indifferent ale 9d per quart. Wearing
apparel is very dear indeed, but the working people are paid very well for
their labour; tailors, shoemakers, bricklayers and stonemasons, can earn
from 10s to 15s per day. When
we had been at Hobart-town about a fortnight we got a place of service for
our daughter, at one of the first merchants in the colony, to nurse a
child five weeks old; her wages are 13 Pound a year, and we draw her
rations, the same as if she was with us.
station is over a gang of convicts, consisting of from forty to eighty,
all in chains, with heavy irons round each leg; the cause of the different
number of them is, they are put in irons for a certain time, some for one,
two, and three months, and others for six months, or during the
Lieutenant-Governor's pleasure; I have one that has been for pleasure one
year and five months; their sentences are according to the nature and
degree of the offence they may have committed and they never take their
irons off until they have served their sentence, day or night.
fetch them from the prison barracks at half-past five in the morning, and
they work till nine o'clock, and out again at ten till one, for dinner;
then again from half-past two till six at night; in winter time was work
from seven in the morning till five in the evening, when I take them into
the barracks, where they remain till I fetch them out in the morning.
As there is no place provided for me in the barracks, I am obliged
to find my own quarters, though I have petitioned to the
Lieutenant-Governor, and wrote to the chief Engineer of my department, but
all to no effect. The other
overseers in town are similarly situated.
have two rooms upon a floor, for which I pay three shillings per week
currency, but they are very pleasantly situated, about half a mile from
town. The business I have
with my gang, is to overlook them with a stick in my hand, and to see them
work, and I am obliged to be very severe with them, to keep them properly
under; and yet they say I am the best overseer they ever had, for were I
to make the least report against them for being idle, they would get
five-and-twenty or fifty lashes, so that I abstain reporting them as much
as possible, for whatever the overseer says is law."