1820 Settler Party : Willson

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Party  Willson 
Leader  Thomas Willson 
Number in the Party  307 
Area Party originated from  London, England 
Area allocated to the party  Beaufort Vale on the Bush River 
1820 Settler Ship  La Belle Alliance,    
Surnames in party  Addams, Austin, Ayliff, Bacon, Bagley, Barrett, Bayley, Beardshaw, Bisset, Boardman, Bond, Bowsher, Brown, Burling, Campion, Carpenter, Carter, Chapman, Clark, Clarke, Cock, Collis, Combley, Craik, Crawford, Crick, Curling, Currie, Dale, De Visme, Dearman, Dold, Donovan, Doyle, Eales, Earle, Eaton, Foden, Francis, Gamble, Garbett, Goadley, Goddard, Griffin, Griggs, Gyfford, Hagard, Hall, Hancorn, Harrison, Hayes, Henderson, Herbage, Higgins, Hogg, Horn(e), Jarman, Jarvis, Johnson, Jolly, Keen, Kidson, Knight, Lance, Lane, Lepper, Lindsey, Lloyd, Lowe, Lucas, Marsh, Martin, Mercer, Moltby, Moody, Moore, Moxham, Mundell, Nelson, Nixon, Norden, Norton, Palmer, Parke, Pawle, Peacock, Pepper, Pepperell, Phillips, Pierce, Piper, Pirie, Pratt, Purdon, Randall, Rathbone, Reid, Reynolds, Robertson, Rowe, Scott, Scrooby, Simmons, Simons, Slee, Sloman, Smith, South, Stagg, Stanton, Stewart, Strong, Taylor, Thomas, Thompson, Unknown, Walker, Walkinshaw, Webb, Wenham, Wheeler, Whittle, Whybrew, Williams, Willson, Wilmot, Wilson, Wise, Woods, Woodward, Wright
Other Information  A party of 307 from London led by Thomas WILLSON sailed in "La Belle Alliance", They were located on the Bush River, tributary to the Torrens River. Thomas WILLSON left the party upon its arrival there and the Rev. William BOARDMAN took charge. The location was known as Beaufort Vale, a name still applied to one of its former allotments.
Settler Handbook Content:   No. 17 on the Colonial Department list, led by Thomas Willson, an architect and commercial agent of Bridge Cottage, Chelsea Water Works, London. Along with Bailie, Parker and Edward Wynne (who was later succeeded by Hezekiah Sephton), Willson was given permission to take out one of the four largest settler parties, consisting of 100 able-bodied men and their families. Wynne's application was well received because of his party's religious convictions, and Bailie and Parker had powerful patrons in government, but the Colonial Department later admitted that Willson's selection was a mistake that was not discovered until it was too late to rectify it. One Edward Webb Wilson had applied to emigrate with the influential backing of J Kynaston Powell of Ellesmere, and the Colonial Department confused the two similar names and accepted Willson's proposal in error.

This was a joint-stock party, recruited by advertisement, and like Parker's and Bailie's it served to absorb the remnants of smaller parties whose applications had been rejected or whose numbers had diminished. Many of these men were London tradesmen: James and Benjamin Wilmot and John Doyle had belonged to a party led by James Wilmot of Little Ormond Street, Queen Square; Thomas Francis and William Bond had belonged to a party led by Thomas Bainbridge of Soho; Goadley, Lance and Wenham had belonged to a party led by James Russell of Seven Dials; Matthew Dold, his two sons and John Ayliff and Thomas Foden had belonged to a party led by JM Dold of Mile End New Town. Thomas Foden had also enlisted in a proposed party led by Robert Pirie of Turnmill Street, Clerkenwell, which contributed 11 members to Willson's party: Pirie, Gyfford, Kidson, Carter, Whybrew, Horn, Rathbone, Williams, Lucas, Nelson and Foden.

Alexander Bisset, a naval officer of Long Acre, London, and Walter Currie and his brother Adam Currie of Langholme, Dumfriesshire, had belonged to a party under Bisset's leadership. When Bisset's proposal was turned down, Currie obtained permission to emigrate independently at his own expense, but subsequently chose to join Willson's party instead.

Early in September 1819, before Willson had been notified of the success of his application, he claimed a first instalment of £5 from his prospective settlers, who were required to pay two further instalments of £5 per man to cover the cost of their deposits and the 'necessary stores' which Willson proposed to purchase for the party. In addition, he levied a five per cent surcharge on the total amount paid, as a personal fee for his efforts on their behalf. In October he issued a printed circular containing a bewildering set of proposals for the organisation and management of the party.

He suggested that ten gentlemen of the party should form a 'Society', each contributing an equal amount of capital and five labourers, and constitute themselves a Committee of Management to oversee the erection of houses and the cultivation of their land. In addition to this party within a party, he proposed that every ten settlers should select a Director to represent them, who would assist Willson himself in 'the dispensation of benefits'. In the distribution of land to the members of his party he would be as generous as was consistent with 'the public good' and the preservation of his 'own individual rights as Lord of the Manor'. He was willing to give a written guarantee of his intention to grant land to any settler who was entitled to a share, and who would 'pay a stipulated sum towards a Fund of Indemnity' intended to go into Willson's own pocket. All that emerges clearly from this extraordinarily unclear document is that Willson was as anxious to avoid responsibility for the management of the party as he was to ensure his own 'adequate pecuniary support'. Willson's settlers subsequently denied that they had given their approval to these confused proposals, 'nor was it ever asked'.

Although most of the party were 'free' settlers who paid their own deposits, there were not many among them whom their contemporaries would have classed as 'gentlemen'. Several men, however, were sufficiently well-off to take servants with them: the Wilmots employed four servants, as did Collis; Cock, Currie and Willson each employed three; and Bisset, Lloyd, John Smith, Webb and the Rev William Boardman had one servant each. The size of the party called for the inclusion of at least one medical man, and at one stage, in fact, it had three: Thomas Cock, James Pawle and William Combley. Combley did not remain with the party; he was seconded to travel in the Sir George Osborn, which had no surgeon on board, but shortly before sailing he decided not to emigrate after all. His servant, Charles Bowsher, sailed in the Sir George Osborn but it is not known whether he rejoined Willson's party on its location.

Under the terms of the emigration scheme, any party of 100 settlers could be accompanied by a clergyman who would receive a government stipend. Willson saw this as an opportunity not only to provide for his settlers' spiritual welfare but also to establlish a 'classical academy' at the new settlement. His first nomination was the Rev Edward Pizey, who was rejected as ineligible by the Colonial Department; he was more successful with his second nomination, the Rev William Boardman. Boardman was headmaster of Blackburn School in Lancashire, and was desperate to emigrate; he had hoped to attach himself to Hayhurst's party, but it was not large enough to qualify for the sevices of a clergyman. The Colonial Department accepted Boardman's nomination on the recommendation of his patron Thomas Claughton, Member of Parliament for Newton, which was countersigned by the Bishop of Chester, as well as numerous testimonials to Boardman's good character, strenuously denying allegations of drunkenness which he feared would prejudice his chances of success.

Deposits were paid for 102 men and their families, and the party boarded La Belle Alliance at Deptford. One of the men withdrew at the last minute because of illness. After more than a month's delay before leaving the ice-bound Thames, the ship sailed from the Downs on 12 February 1820, arriving in Table Bay on 2 May and Simon's Bay three days later. Thomas Cock's wife and three of his children and one of the Wilmots' servants died on the passage out, and Thomas Henderson and Thomas Randall obtained permission to disembark at Simon's Town with their families and leave the party.

When La Belle Alliance sailed from Simon's Bay on the last leg of her voyage to Algoa Bay, Willson distributed another circular to his party, claiming 'indemnification' for the effort and expense he had been put to, and the right as 'Lord of the Manor' to hunt, fish and cut timber on the party's lands and to call on its members for labour. The 'free settlers' under his direction were unanimous in their determination to resist these demands, and on arrival at Algoa Bay towards the end of May they submitted a petition to the Acting Governor, Sir Rufane Donkin, asking for his intervention. Their anger was exacerbated by Willson's refusal to issue them either with regular rations or the additional 'necessary supplies' for which they had been required to pay in England. Donkin held a meeting with Willson and the petitioners, and 'after explaining and exhorting, and deciding rather against Mr W', he believed that 'union was restored'. The party was located on the Bush River, a tributary of the Torrens.

Willson, however, abandoned his settlers as soon as they reached their location and returned to Algoa Bay, from where he retreated to Cape Town, claiming that 'the wretched-minded classes' had threatened to put a bullet through his head. The direction of the party was left in the hands of the Rev William Baordman. Willson had planned to found a town called Angloville, where he hoped to erect 'a Colossal Monument to our beloved Sovereign', but the name eventually given to the location was Beaufort Vale.


ADDAMS, James 30. Farmer. w Harriet 25.

AUSTIN, Samuel 33. Cabinetmaker. w Mary 36.

BARRETT, William 19. Gardener.

BARRETT, William 38. Farmer. c Charles 16, Robert 12.

BAYLEY, John 28. Farmer (servant to Collis). w Martha 26. c Mary 2.

BISSET, Alexander 32. Lieut RN. w Alicia 28. c Sarah Maria 6, Alexander Charles 4, John Jarvis 2.

BOARDMAN, Judith 23 (daughter of Rev W Boardman).

BOARDMAN, Mary 24. Teacher (daughter of Rev W Boardman).

BOARDMAN, William 44. Clergyman. w Margaret 40. c Margaret 17, Susannah 16, John 13, Sarah 12, James 11, William 8.

BOND, William 44. Farmer. w Martha 40. c William Henry 13, Louisa 11, Comprise 4.

BOWSHER, Charles 21. Farmer (sailed on Sir George Osborn).

BROWN, Thomas 40. Farmer.

BROWN, Thomas Sanders 36. Butcher. w Elizabeth 37. c Enos 13, Elizabeth 10, Sarah 4, Joseph 2.

BROWN, William Thomas 20. Farmer.

CAMPION, Thomas 19. Labourer.

CARPENTER, William 34. Carpenter. w Mary 34. c Eliza 7, Maria 4, Emma 1.

CARTER, John 28. Farmer.

CHAPMAN, William 26. Labourer (servant to Webb). w Judith 23. c Sarah 4.

CLARKE, Thomas 40. Farmer. w Eleanor 34. c Ellen Maria 13, Thomas John 12, Caroline Matilda 11, James Charles 9, Sarah Elizabeth 6, Frederick Adolphus 4, Edwin 1.

COCK, Thomas 32. Surgeon. w Sophia 32 (died at sea). c Sophia 8, John 7, Thomas 6, Ann 4, Jane 3, James 1, a baby born at sea. (Three children, including the baby, died at sea.)

COLLIS, James 24. Merchant.

CRAWFORD, James 22. Farmer. w Martha 22. c. Mary 1.

CURRIE, Adam 24. Farmer.

CURRIE, Walter 34. Purser RN. w Ann 24. c Mary Ann 4, Walter 1.

DALE, Christopher 31. Music teacher and piano tuner. w Elizabeth 29. c Elizabeth 7, Henry 6.

DEARMAN, Joseph 25. Farmer. w Mary 23. c Joseph 12, Osborn 11, John 9, James 8.

DE VISME, Mary 35 (sister-in-law of Henry Lloyd).

DOLD, Jane Catherine 20 (daughter of Matthew Dold).

DOLD, John Matthew 22. Carpenter.

DOLD, Matthew 50. Carpenter. w Jane 46.

DOLD, Sarah Ann 18 (daughter of Matthew Dold).

DOLD, William Andrew 19. Carpenter.

DONOVAN, Joseph 25. Taxidermist. w Susannah 26. c William 4, George 2.

DOYLE, John 20. Farmer (servant to Wilmots).

EALES, William 23. Farmer. w Sarah 26.

EARL, William John 19. Farmer.

EATON, William Loftie 21. Farmer. w Mary Ann 24.

FODEN, Thomas 40. Shoemaker. w Mary 36. c Catherine 13, Matilda 6.

FRANCIS, Thomas 31. Farmer. w Elizabeth 28. c Thomas James 9, Amelia 7, George 3.

GAMBLE, John 19. Labourer (servant to Collis).

GARBETT, Susannah 8 and Thomas 7 (stepchildren of Joseph Donovan).

GOADLEY, Joseph 31. Tailor. w Mary 31.

GODDARD, Ralph 26. Cabinetmaker. w Sarah 26. c George 11.

GRIGGS, John 20. Music master and copier.

GYFFORD, Theophilus 33. Gardener. w Ann 26.

HAGARD, Thomas 34, Glazier and builder. w Elizabeth 35. c Elizabeth 1.

HALL, Benjamin 29. Farmer. w Frances 28. c Frances 5, Hannah 4, Mary 3.

HENDERSON, Thomas 42. Gunner RN. w Margaret 32. c Eliza 12, Lavinia 10.

HIGGINS, Barnabas 23. Carpenter (servant to Collis).

HOGG, William 19. Labourer (servant to Boardman).

HORN, Robert Henry William 21. Mariner. w Ann 22.

JARMAN, John 40. Farmer.

JARVIS, George 21. Clerk.

JOLLEY, John 17. Gardener. w Mary 21. c Ann 2.

KIDSON, William 34. Farmer. w Ann 32. c Mary Ann 12, Amelia 9, Frederick 4, Emma 2, Thomas 1.

LANCE, James 31. Shoemaker. w Elizabeth 30.

LANE, Thomas 21. Farmer (servant to Currie).

LINDSEY, Robert 36. Carpenter (servant to Willson). w Isabella 35.

LLOYD, Henry 36. Harness maker. w Alicia Mary 27. c Catherine Mary 8, Francisca 6, Henry 4, Samuel 2.

LUCAS, Charles John 31. Gardener. w Sarah Avis 27. c Charles John 3, Mary Ann 1.

MARTIN, Thomas 24. Farmer. w Susan 26.

MERCER, William 14 (in the care of Thomas Willson).

MOLTBY, Frederick 19. Gardener.

MOODY, John 49. Carpenter. w Sarah 36.

MUNDELL, James 24. Farmer. w Catherine 27. c Henry 4, Elizabeth 2.

NELSON, Thomas 33. Clerk. w Mary Ann 33. c Mary Ann 10, John Edward 5.

NORTON, John 25. Farmer. w Sarah 25. c Lewis 3, Joshua 2.

PALMER, Thomas 32. Leather dresser.

PAWLE, James 30. Surgeon. w Jemima 32. c James 3, Henry 1.

PEACOCK, Richard 34. Farmer. w Maria 28. c Eliza 7, Selina 5, Emily 4, Walter 2.

PEPPERELL, Ann (servant to Currie).

PHILLIPS, John 19. Farmer.

PIERCE, Francis 13 (in the care of John Moody).

PIERCE, Richard 40. Baker. w Ann 41. c Richard 11, Paul 10, Joseph 9.

PIPER, Thomas 36. Labourer (servant to Collis).

PIRIE, Robert 35. Baker. w Mary 24. c Margaret 11.

PRATT, John 38. Farmer. w Ann 37. c William 13 (adopted son).

PURDON, John 40. Army pensioner, late Sergt, 53rd Foot. w Mary 34. c William 11, Henry 9, Elizabeth 5,
Charles 2.

RANDALL, Thomas 40. Farmer. w Maria 21.

RATHBONE, James 22. Carpenter. w Susanna 22. c Emma 1.

REID, James 36. Farmer (servant to Wilmots). w Ann 30. c John William 13.

REYNOLDS, Thomas 28. Farmer.

ROBERTSON, John 30. Cabinetmaker. w Elizabeth 22.

ROWE, Samuel 29. Baker. w Sarah 26. c Edward 6.

SCOTT, George Dennis 19. Carpenter.

SCOTT, John 39 Carpenter. w Frances 38. c Eliza 9, Edmund 6, Henry 4, Emma 1.

SCROOBY, Samuel 31. Carpenter. w Ann 33. c Richard 7, George 5.

SIMMONS, Benjamin 18. Farmer.

SIMONS, Philip 38. Farmer. c Samuel 10, Ralph 8.

SLEE, Charles 26. Farmer.

SLOMAN, Morris 33. Farmer. w Phillis 24. c Mark 5, Rosetta 3, Julia 2.

SMITH, John 42. Boatswain RN. w Rebecca 34. c John Hancorn 15, Thomas William 8, William 4.

SMITH, Richard 18. Labourer.

STANTON, William 36. Locksmith and bellhanger. w Elizabeth 35. c William 13, Sarah 8, Caroline 5, Robert 3.

TAYLOR, Charles 19. Farmer.

THOMAS, John 40. Labourer. w Mary 35.

WALKER, Thomas 22. Carpenter. w Elizabeth 22. c Elizabeth 2, Sarah 1.

WALKER, Thomas 46. Baker. w Sarah 43.

WEBB, John 35. Farmer. w Mary Ann 34. c William 9, Frederick 7, John 5, Maria 3, Alexandrina 1.

WENHAM, Thomas 28. Carpenter (servant to Willson). w Elizabeth 26.

WHEELER, James 39. Farmer. w Harriet 35. c Martha 13, Ann 11, Harriet 8, Richard James 2.

WHYBREW, John 19. Gardener.

WILKINSHAW, Charles 22. Gardener.

WILLIAMS, John 38. Master at Arms, RN. w Ann 35.

WILLSON, Thomas 35. Architect. w Mary Ann 30. c Percy 9, Douglas 6, Thomas 4.

WILMOT, Benjamin 22. Lawyer.

WILMOT, James 30. Lawyer. w Ann 29.

WOODS, Frederick 21. Farmer.

WRIGHT, George 19. Labourer.

*AYLIFF, John 22. Weaver.

*BAGLEY, Patrick 25. Army pensioner. w Catherine 25. c Mary 4.

*NORDEN, Benjamin 21. Tailor.

Main sources for party list

Return of settlers under the direction of Mr Thomas Willson (Cape Archives CO 6138/1,50. This is the London list; no Agent of Transports' list has been traced giving the state of the party as it arrived at the Cape). Petition of the free settlers on board the transport La Belle Alliance (Cape Archives CO 3918,269. This petition was signed by 67 'free settlers' who had paid their own deposits and were not bound to service, while four others, including the Rev William Boardman and Dr Pawle, refrained from signing). List of families located, from Special Commissioner William Hayward's notes (Cape Archives CO 8544).

No reference has been traced in colonial records to Thomas Campion, Adam Currie, Joseph Dearman, Thomas Hagard, Thomas Martin, John Moody, Thomas Reynolds, Charles Slee, John Thomas, Frederick Woods or George Wright; the majority of them were probably indentured servants, and it is not certain that all actually reached the Cape.

E Morse Jones lists the following births and deaths on board La Belle Alliance. His sources for this information have not been traced, and it has not been incorporated into the party list: a son, William, born to the wife of Ralph Goddard; a daughter, Emma, born to the wife of Benjamin Hall; a son Philip, born to the wife of John Norton, and Charles, the 2-year-old son of John Purdon, died at sea.

*The names of three men who are known to have been associated with Willson's party do not appear on any of its official lists. Patrick Bagley, a veteran of the Peninsular War, enrolled and paid his deposit as a member of Bailie's party. He missed the Chapman's sailing and was allowed to travel on La Belle Alliance instead. He was located in Albany with Willson's party and claimed a share of its land.

*Benjamin Norden was listed as a member of a Jewish party formed by his father, Abraham Norden of Smithfield, London, whose application to emigrate was unsuccessful. He described himself in 1823 as one of Willson's party, but it is not known whether he sailed in La Belle Alliance under another man's name, or whether he reached the Cape some time after the 1820 settlers and joined his relative John Norton on the party's location. He was not a claimant for land.

*John Ayliff, a weaver, was listed as a member of the party formed by JM Dold of Mile End New Town, London, whose application to emigrate was unsuccessful. JM Dold, his brother WA Dold and their father Matthew Dold subsequently joined Willson's party as replacements for three men who had dropped out. According to the entries in the sailing list, Matthew Dold was accompanied by his wife Jane and their son Ayliff aged 13, JM Dold by his wife Sarah Ann, and WA Dold by his wife Jane Catherine. It has been established that Sarah and Jane C Dold were in fact the daughters and not the daughters-in-law of Matthew Dold, but by listing them as their brothers' 'wives', no separate deposits had to be paid for them. In the same way John Ayliff, who by his own description was 'a very fresh looking young man', may have been listed as 'Ayliff, aged 13', either to avoid paying a deposit or because the party's numbers were complete and no further adult male settler would officially be admitted. No mention of any such deception is made in Ayliff's autobiographical accounts of the circumstancs of his emigration. John Ayliff and Jane Dold were married by the Captain of HMS Menai at Algoa Bay on 25 June 1820, while the party was awaiting transport to its location.

Further reading

Rev John Ayliff, The Journal of 'Harry Hastings', Albany Settler (Grahamstown, Grocott and Sherry, 1963),
a work of fiction based on Ayliff's own experiences as a young emigrant;
The Journal of John Ayliff: vol. 1, 1821-1830, ed Peter Hinchliff (Cape Town, AA Balkema, 1971).

from THE SETTLER HANDBOOK by MD Nash page 138 

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