1820 Settler Party : Biggar

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Party  Biggar 
Leader  Capt. Alexander Biggar 
Number in the Party  55 
Area Party originated from  Hampshire, England 
Area allocated to the party  Brak River 
1820 Settler Ship  Weymouth,    
Surnames in party  Apsey, Biggar, Bingle, Chapman, Cole, Ellicott, Faircloth, Godfrey, Knowles, McDonald, Page, Pedlar, Pollard, Sanderson, Straton, Unknown, Welsh, Willington
Other Information  They were located on Drie Fontein on the Brak River, the location being called Woodlands. By 1826 the party had dispersed and the location was granted to Captain BIGGAR.
Settler Handbook Content:   No. 14 on the Colonial Department list, led by Alexander Biggar of 79 St Aubyn Street, Plymouth, Devon, a Captain of the 85th Regiment of Foot on half-pay. Biggar had been paymaster of his regiment, but his active career in the army was precipitately ended in May 1819 when a General Court Martial found him guilty of embezzling £1 300 from War Office funds and suborning a clerk who was to give evidence against him. He was cashiered and ordered to repay the money. The Cape emigration scheme provided a timely opportunity to put this disgrace behind him and make a new beginning. His friend Philip Rawlings invoked the interest of the Earl of Westmoreland on Biggar's behalf, describing him as 'a man once in easy and independent circumstances but now reduced', and the Earl's brother's widow, Mrs Fane, also interceded for him. Thanks to this powerful patronage Biggar's application was accepted, and he moved to London to organise his party. His later letters to the Colonial Department were written from Rawlings' London address, 27 St Mary Axe.

This was a proprietary party,and it seems likely that some at least of the men were recruited in London. George Apsey had been employed on the Southwark bridge works until its completion threw him out of work. According to their death notices in the Cape Archives, Thomas Page was born in Wiltshire and George Pollard came from Fowey, Cornwall, although his son Thomas was born in London. James Ellicott and Henry Pedlar were Devon men.

In the terms of the Articles of Agreement they signed at Portsmouth on 13 December 1819 before they embarked, all the men of the party were indentured to Biggar for three years, and were to receive food and clothing but no wages for their first year of service. In the second and third years they would be paid wages 'according to colonial practice'. Each man would be given 20 acres of land which he would be free to cultivate on Saturdays and Sundays, and at the end of his period of service he would receive title to it, although Biggar was to retain certain 'Manorial Rights'.

Deposits were paid for 13 men and their families and the party embarked at Portsmouth on HM Store Ship Weymouth, which sailed on 7 January 1820. Two children belonging to the party died on the voyage: Martha Godfrey aged 1, and an infant son of George Sanderson who was born and died at sea. Babies were born to the wives of Alexander Biggar (a son, George), George Apsey, Robert Godfrey (a son, Robert), and Henry Pedlar (a son, Samuel Weymouth). The Weymouth reached Table Bay on 26 April and Algoa Bay on 15 May.

The party was located in Albany, north-west of Theopolis, and the location was named Woodlands. With the single exception of George Pollard, Biggar's labourers deserted or applied to be released from their engagement soon after they reached Albany. By July 1820 several of them were employed at Somerset Farm.


APSEY, George 29. Millwright. w Mary 25. c a baby born at sea.

BIGGAR, Alexander 39. Capt, 85th Regiment (half-pay). w Mary 39. c Mary John 16, Jean Straton 14, Georgina 12, Agnes Elizabeth 10, Charlotte 8, Robert 7, Alexina 3, Helen 1, George (born at sea).

BIGGAR, Ann Harold 18 (daughter of Alexander Biggar).

BIGGAR, Margaret Graham (daughter of Alexander Biggar).

BINGLE, Elizabeth 19 (daughter of Thomas Bingle).

BINGLE, Thomas 39. Gardener. w Sophia 27. c Thomas 10, Eleanor 8.

COLE, Robert 22. Cutler. w Jane 21. c Robert.

ELLICOTT, James 27. Labourer.

FAIRCLOTH, George 33. Labourer. w Mary 32. c James 9, Elizabeth 4.

GODFREY, Robert 27. Wheelwright. w Martha 28. c Henry 5, Martha 1 (died at sea), Robert (born at sea).

KNOWLES, Richard 32. Mason. w Mary 40.

KNOWLES, Sarah 19.

McDONALD, James 31. Blacksmith. w Mary 23. c Alexander 1.

PAGE, Thomas 25. Labourer. w Ann 33.

PEDLAR, Henry 30. Farmer. w Elizabeth 35. c Mary Ann 7, Henry 5, Elizabeth 2, Samuel Weymouth (born at sea).

POLLARD, George 36. Tile maker. w Ann 35. c Mary Ann 7, Thomas 6, Jane 3, George 1.

SANDERSON, George 31. Butcher. w Ann 28. c Ann 9, Margaret 7, Caroline 5.

Main sources for party list

Return of settlers under the direction of Alexander Biggar, and Articles of Agreement (Cape Archives CO 6138/1, 33-44); Muster-roll and Log of HM Store Ship Weymouth (Public Record Office, London).

from THE SETTLER HANDBOOK by MD Nash page 45


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