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Sir Joseph Banks and the Question of Hemp

Review of: Dr John Jiggens, Sir Joseph Banks and the Question of Hemp: Hemp, Sea-Power and Empire, 1777-1815.. Australia, Jay Jay Publishing, 2012. Paperback, 285pp. ISBN: 978-0-9578684-3-4. Website: www.drjiggens.com./ $27.99.

By Dan Byrnes (September 2012)

(Please Note: This file has a HTML declaration for HTML5 as it uses code for automatically-self-renumbering footnoting (which in turn entails use of a CSS or, cascading style sheet). Anyone (or any organisation) is welcome to apply to the webmaster (Dan Byrnes) for an e-mailed copy of the code. It is recommended that webmasters who cannot manage a CSS need not apply, as the coding issues are serious. -Ed)

Dr John Jiggens is a long-time researcher on the use of cannabis in Australia. His PHD thesis was Marijuana Australiana: Cannabis Use, Popular Culture and the Americanisation of Drugs Policy in Australia 1938-1899. Completing it, Jiggens later subdivided his thesis into two books, The killer cop and the murder of Donald Mackay and Marijauna Australiana. He also with US author Jack Herer co-wrote the Australian version of The Emperor Wears No Clothes: The Authoritative Historical Record of Cannabis and the Conspiracy Against Marinjuana ... and how hemp can save the world! The original US version of which book by Jack Herer is now freely available on the Internet. (Herer died in 2010.) In Herer´s writing, and now Jiggens´, hemp is taken to be a ¨renewable source of paper, energy, food, textiles and medicine¨.

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Writing on Sir Joseph Banks and hemp as an historical prequel to his earlier-produced material, Jiggens completes his history of the use of cannabis in Australia. Unfortunately for Jiggens, this prequel was not a good idea. No kind of hemp was grown or exploited in Australia with conspicuous success in the times of Sir Joseph Banks.

Growing hemp in Australia was at most a vague idea, it was tried and failed, the idea never came off. Yet Jiggens wants to suggest that the British Government´s seeming plan for a convict colony on the eastern coast of Australia was a cover for the creation of a vast hemp farm. I think that this is mistaken, and that it only takes a day´s netsurfing to find some large holes about hemp history in this book, somewhat apart from the career of Banks. Although, it takes much longer than a day´s netsurfing to get a grip on The Botany Bay Debate, in which Jiggens now involves himself in a novel but non-admirable way.

Criticism of Jiggens´ book needs to be divided into two sections, one about how hemp history might have been better approached. Two, about the way Jiggens has hijacked aspects of The Botany Bay Debate in order to propagandize on modern attitudes to hemp which have little to do with the uses of hemp in the late eighteenth century. (The last sections of this book supposedly on Banks are given over to reflections on the use of cannabis/hemp in Australia since 1938, and the book is not well structured anyway.)

Hemp as a valuable product for Imperial Britain

Jiggens ends his sections on ¨historical hemp¨ as follows: ¨While France tried to be more self-sufficient in hemp, Britain exploited the Baltic trade in hemp. Its rise to commercial dominance depended on access to large amounts of cheap hemp, and British demand created the Russian hemp trade; in 1800 half of Russia´s hemp went to Britain. The implications of Britain´s need for hemp made the hemp trade a strategic target in times of war, as this brief overview of the Hemp Question shows. Although the strategy of reliance on Russian hemp was risky, it was the basis of empire. Without the Russian hemp trade, the British Empire would never have been as great. Great as Great Britain became, its empire dangled by that ribbon of hempen trade that wound its way through the narrow and dangerous passages of the Baltic Sea.¨

And what was the role of Banks here? Banks was the eminence grise who advised Britain´s government on what best to do to expand British-controlled supplies of hemp. Since he recommended Botany Bay as a destination for transportable convicts, this then was a cover for Banks´ broader ambition to create a vast hemp farm. As if things were so simple to explain. And if only Jiggens´ footnotes were more informative where they need to be! One might well wonder why Britain´s naval officials did not give great enthusiasm to any such plans from Banks. None of them did. They were more inclined to cast scepticism on ¨the length of the voyage¨ (Lord Howe).

A distinct theory on Britain´s settlement of Australia
Book by Dr John Jiggens
Asserting that an apparent convict colony was a cover for creation of a vast hemp farm.

Firstly here, Banks´ career could indeed do with some revision, and Jiggens does kindly apprise us of a few documents we had not known about. Banks can be seen more clearly if he is regarded as a senior member of the scientific wing of what British historian John Brewer has called The British military-fiscal state. (In modern parlance, an early form of Britain´s military-industrial complex.) Banks entered this sector of British official life when he began sailing with Cook, and he never left the sector thereafter. He enjoyed an independent income, and so can be seen as a continual volunteer serving the sector. But there are things about the cultivation of hemp that Jiggens does not tell us (detailed below), and it is hard to understand how Banks would have been unaware of them, since he had the best of information sources and a ship-using network of contacts that could work globally as he pursued ¨economic botany¨.

Secondly here, Jiggens with Banks and Hemp is merely revisiting the old naval stores sector of arguments within the terms of The Botany Bay Debate. The naval stores arguments rely on Britain´s reliance on its naval and commercial sea power, which relied on ships, which relied on the use of canvas for sails, rope, and so relied on a good many hempen products. Quite so, but one problem with saying it is that Britain found it impossible to control (or grow) its own supplies of hemp - hemp of any botanical variety.

Banks´ long career with the military-fiscal state began when he first volunteered to go exploring on Cook´s first voyage. He moved from being an academic botanist to a guru who advised government on many sorts of botanical or otherwise useful commodities; Banks often deliberately chose to cloak his work, or the work of his associates or agents, in secrecy. Secrecy mostly designed to advance the causes of Empire. On breadfruit (Bligh´s two voyages to Tahiti.) On tea in the 1790s (plant it at Assam, north-east India, he told the East India Company). On supplies of cochineal (a red dye found from an insect). Banks helped create and promote Kew Gardens in London as an officially-sponsored botanical demonstration. Banks was friends with Benjamin Thompson Count Rumford (1753-1814), who invented a drip coffee pot and a percolating coffee pot, they both helped found The Royal Institution of Great Britain in 1799, says a website. As a servant of the military-fiscal state, Thompson also drew plans for warships. (Some extra details on Banks using his very effective network and ships in the service of the military-fiscal state are given below.)

Ignoring the records of maritime history

For reasons which remain unclear and are too-seldom challenged, Australian historians treating The Botany Bay Debate, and this includes Jiggens, refrain from inspecting the records of maritime history to buttress the facts, trends and arguments they wish to emphasise. They also often ignore data on merchant careers, which offer a good deal of British social history that sadly, remains unconsulted. The result is the fruit of the maritime history remains undernourished. In particular, historians´ views on merchant involvement in excursions to Australasia remain stultified. The result is that The Botany Bay Debate has become sterile. Jiggen´s theory suffers from all this in that, if government had a pro-hemp-acquisition policy (camouflaged as a new convict colony) he advances no views about which merchants handling hemp in either Britain (including Scotland and Wales) or Ireland were or might have been interested in this new zone of government interest. This is made more difficult since the convict transportation plan was fully government-initiated and interested merchants merely backed it up by supplying the shipping.

Given this, merchant involvement with the new colony was contained in a kind of bubble of penal history, the system where merchants took contracts to effectually transport convicts. And government would be sending out only a limited number of convict transports, meaning, merchant involvement would be limited, at least, as it turned out, for some decades. Jiggens seems to assume that early European-Australia had no maritime history at all, that whatever maritime history there is means nothing at all, and that the British settlement of Australia happened only by fiat of a Banksian botanical fantasy.

It would be plausible then that any British merchant especially interested in hemp trade (or naval stores such as timber) might have become involved (before say 1810, given that Jiggens treats the times to then). None did become involved. And during 2012, new work is being done on the merchants who did become involved in convict transportation from 1784 to about 1810 by Sydney-based historian Gary Sturgess.

The names of British merchants especially interested in hemp simply do not appear in lists of merchants interested in transporting convicts to Australia before 1800. It is not hard to conclude that Britain´s hemp merchants were simply not interested; and so, if they were not interested, they must have sadly disappointed their government. But no sighs from government officials or politicians have so far been sighted on the matter.

Here, re convict transportation, the most prominent names for consideration are London aldermen George Mackenzie Macaulay and William Curtis who were most interested in sealing (at Nootka Sound, North-West America); a contractor to the navy for shipping, William Richards Jnr.; the major London slaving firm Camden Calvert and King (who wanted to open a back door to East India trade) and some names associated with the London-based South Whale Fishery, especially Samuel Enderby Snr. and his neighbour at Blackheath London, John St Barbe. Naval stores were not prominent in any of their their known commercial interests. If anything, their involvements would fit with a general government desire to see British trade expanded in the Pacific and near-Pacific regions, especially regarding an expansion of whaling/sealing grounds, not a desire to expand supplies of naval stores.

In any case, by 1786-1788, accurate knowledge of the value of Australasian resources suitable for adding to potentials for naval supplies was lacking, and the region as a supply centre was still untested. Any experiments or explorations in the region with a view to developing naval stores tended to come off badly. Known supply of Australasian timber was unsuitable for the use of shipping, and New Zealand flax was unsuitable for heavier industrial use. We are left then with the conclusion that if Britain´s hemp merchants were little interested in Australasia, they were not backing up a government plan to concentrate on expanding hemp supplies by creating what resembled a convict colony. And if government desired a general expansion of trade, what politicians got was some extra argument with the East India Company, a set of London-based whalers who by 1800 had mostly abandoned Australasian waters because they preferred the west costs of South America, insufficient merchant interest in exploring New Zealand possibilities, and a convict colony that required continued funding because it had at least survived. In that convict colony, it is true, governors had made some vain attempts to find naval stores, but none of industrial use were found. NSW had to wait for wool to find a staple export.

By 1800, many of the protean possibilities, which might have included expanding supplies of naval stores, had contracted to a not-so-prepossessing convict colony that today can be seen as handily fictionalized in the TV mini-series, The Timeless Land: The early days of British settlement in Australia (ABC DVD, 2006, first seen on Australian TV from 1980).

As the latest entrant into The Botany Bay Debate, and mistaking some of the window dressing for the contents of the entire department store, Jiggens seems to be writing into an abstract void-of-historical-theory more than he is writing from the use of reports on actual human activities. He embraces the absurdity of considering politicians´ views on the importance of hemp supplies without considering the careers of merchants who by contract or otherwise would handle and supply hemp to either naval or commercial shipping. I find that Jiggens is curiously uncurious, especially about how and why all the protean possibilities of the new Australian colony faded into disappointment. For it seems to the student of the involvement of British merchants in the new colony, that to 1800, Britain´s merchants after the loss of the American colonies were surprisingly willing to ignore newly-arising opportunities in the Pacific region. But no one will arrive at this conclusion without inspecting actual British merchant activities in the period 1786-1800. Meantime, one might well ask why the Australian Agricultural Company, established in the late 1820s, did not promote hemp growing or engage in cultivating it on any scale, since a good many of its early investors were politicians or affluent merchants. (As I might ask, since I grew up in Tamworth, where by the 1950s when I was a child, the Australian Agricultural Company had long been operating.)

Other flaws in Jiggens´ book

The notes are skimpy and the book has no index.

The Samuel Taylor Coleridge connection (p. 192). (Or, the British Dope Fiend connection, how Banks became the first cannabis supplier in Britain.) Jiggens relates how Samuel Taylor Coleridge once approached Banks for some supply of Indian bang (dope), of the kind used in Malaya, or Barbary, it is all rather unclear. Coleridge, who became an opium fiend anyway, was friends with Tom Wedgwood (1771-1805), son of the famous Potter Josiah (1730-1795). Sir Joseph Banks knew Josiah. As Banks probably knew, Tom´s health broke down about when he was about 21, about when he was experimenting with silver nitrates and photography - he is credited with being The Father of Photography. He was also interested in metaphysics and for his health, in certain drugs, both matters which helped his friendship with Coleridge. And Coleridge asked his landscape painter friend Samuel Purkis, of Brentford, Middlesex, to ask Banks for the bang. The letter to Purkis is Coleridge Letter No. 485, dated 1 February 1803. Little of which Jiggens tells us but which can easily be found from websites. The Wedgwoods were remarkably well-connected to many members of the British Intellectual Hothouse of the nineteenth century. To Wedgwoods who were fellows of the Royal Society. Emma Wedgwood of the family married the proponent of evolution, Charles Darwin. They were ancestors of politicians and of the English composer Vaughan Williams. They were connected with the Huxleys (writers) and with the Buxtons who are a separately interesting family group with some minor influences on Anglo-Australian history. None of which interests Jiggens.

The who is George Sinclair problem?: From a wikipedia page we find that there was a noted Scots-born botanist named George Sinclair (c1786-1834). His wikipedia page says he was born in 1787, while his own entry online in Dictionary of National Biography (1895-1900 Vol. 52) says he was born in 1786. There is also some doubt about the name of the father of this George; a George or a Duncan Sinclair. But this George became a partner from 1824 in a Deptford seedsman´s firm, Messrs John Cormack and Son (John Jnr.) This George, who was from a family of gardeners in Scotland, spent 17 years superintending the gardens of Woburn Abbey for John Russell (first Earl Russell). (Jiggens, pp. 97ff, pp. 175-184.) George at Woburn does not seem to be the same man as the one writing An Essay on the European Method of Cultivating and Managing Hemp and Flax: with hints on the propriety of introducing the same intro the British possessions in the East Indies, Edinburgh 1797) as he was too young in 1797. The 1797 writer worked with William Roxburgh, the East India Company botanist at Calcutta, to try to establish hemp production in India according to plans laid by Banks. And the George Sinclair working with Roxburgh is not explained as a real person at all: we do know rather more about Roxburgh as a real identity. Jiggens fails to tell us just who was George Sinclair the associate of Roxburgh at Calcutta.

NB: On 17-12-2012, e-mailer Pam Carr informs that George Sinclair died in 1799, according to a brief entry in Asiatic Journal 1800, p. 101. Re your page on Sir Joseph Banks and the Question of Hemp, you might like to know that the George Sinclair who went out to Calcutta to grow hemp, died shortly after he got there, which is why nothing came of the project. I enclose a snapshot from the Asiatic Journal 1800. p. 101.jpg. The entry in the journal does not give an exact date but adjacent records of deaths are dated August-September 1799. Regards, Pam Carr.

Taxonomic confusions: Since the 1780s there have been rather confusing taxonomic mistakes made by botanists, including Banks, about various sorts of cultivable hemp (and or cannabis) which have interfered internationally with views on either the cultivation or the resulting product. Jiggens is rather confusing about which varieties of hemp Banks might have had in mind, and/or which varieties may have been, or were, test-grown in New South Wales or anywhere else; and is not so informative about the use of flax from New Zealand; because he is more interested in promoting a theory of colonisation than in clearing up the botanical confusions. This is not helpful. (We know that Cook and Banks had noted how New Zealand Maoris had handled flax by 1771).

Jiggens can perhaps be forgiven some botanical cloudiness, since as a website says, there are up to 2000 varieties or cultivars of hemp - industrial hemp is cannabis sativa which has no hallucinogenic or ¨drug¨ effects. (See www.hempaustralia.com.au) This website conveys, as Jiggens does not emphasise, that a fully-rigged British ship needed product from about 80 tons which arose from 130 acres of planted hemp (modern techniques will increase that by ten-fold). By the 1840s Australia´s main hemp-growing area was the Hunter Valley, and a police magistrate, Archibald Bell (1773-1837), is believed to have been behind a 400-hectare hemp farm near Singleton that produced enough hemp to rig three navy ships. Yet no industry arose in admirable scale and Jiggens does not tell us why. Archibald Bell (1773-1837) was an originating member of the Agricultural Society of NSW. His son Archibald Jnr discovered the Bell´s Line of Road near Sydney where his name is still commemorated. So for the 1840s, the website is not clear, it was probably Archibald Jnr who was the hemp farmer, using a farm his father had developed? Or, was it that both father and son were hemp farmers? Overall, it seems that pioneer agriculturalists in NSW tried hemp and gave up on it; the Bells were quite well-connected in upper-class NSW society. Jiggens seems not to allude to any such crop near Singleton till page 257, where he mentions other efforts to cultivate hemp in NSW. In general, it would have been far better with this book if Jiggens had chosen simply to clear up all the botanical confusions that exist about his topics, instead of confusing readers about the reasons Britain colonised Australia. We could easily say about Jiggens book, as wikipedia webpages often say of pages which need more work: ¨This article needs additional citations for verification¨.

The problem of hemp in Ireland: Jiggens (pp. 136ff) mentions a senior Irish politician, first Baron Oriel, John Foster (1740-1828), who by 1801 was promoting a plan for a major hemp farm in Ireland to be backed by the Irish Linen Board. Lord Liverpool backed Foster´s scheme and promoted it to such as Prime Minister Addington and Lord Hawkesbury. By 1801, Banks was promoting hemp production in India and he remained hostile to Foster´s Irish scheme as since 1756, every bounty given to the Linen Board had failed to have effect. Foster had a plan for a large hemp farm in Ireland to provide rope and sail cloth, to be financed through the Irish Linen Board Once again, things were more complicated.

Hemp had been used in Ireland for up to 8000 years, and an Irish website says that today, hemp could have more than 100,000 commercial uses including for food (hemp seeds for protein), liquid fuel for vehicles can be made from the stems, for paper, resins, medical products, rope and twine. But it may be strange, as yet another website claims that ¨the Irish soil and climate had proved unsuitable for hemp cultivation¨. In Foster´s time, and he came from a very well-connected family, and was son of an earlier Baron of the Irish Exchequer, the Irish linen industry (from flax or Linum usitatissimum) was based at Ulster, and there was a linen triangle ranged at Belfast-Armagh-Dungannon, and it ran an annual fleet to take product to market abroad from Ireland. Foster during his career was the last Speaker of the Irish Parliament, a Chancellor of Exchequer, Member of the Board of Trade, a Commissioner of Treasury, a Trustee of the Linen Board and vice-president of Board of Agriculture. In 1796 the Linen Board had wanted to encourage the growth of flax and hemp seed, and gave gifts of processing equipment proportional to acreage sewn. The associated records of the use of spinning machines might have involved 50,000 names. Foster seems to have been trying to advance this experiment, which seems to have gone badly.

But the large number of small-time operators involved in the Irish business seems revealing. Production was not suitable for large-scale industry, the work of handling product was more a cottage industry. The lower orders could indulge in it in their spare time. Much the same applied to hemp production in Russia (Jiggens p. 166), where small-time operators, peasants, kept patches of hemp as a cash crop to offset rent payments and fed hemp into a gathering system, where much of the product was sold to Britain. Britain´s reliance on Russian naval stores was indeed rather precarious, because the hemp industry was not large-scale and commercial, production was merely an unreliable cottage industry, and in fact, Britain was apprehensive due to reliance on Russian supplies, while Russia, because its middle class, its business class, was so under-developed, resented being dependent on export revenues from British traders.

One imagines though that the Russian timber industry was footed on a more reliable scale. One imagines there was a large number of small-time hemp-handlers in Russia, as in Ireland - but were they reliable? Was it that the commodity itself - hemp- was somewhat unreliable to deal with? Or had simply not been skilfully commercialized? Henry VIII had introduced regulations making hemp production mandatory in England. Hemp was planted by the early colonists in North America. But the fact that working up the cropped product was a risky and arduous business seems to be noted by many historians who notice hemp as a commodity from Tudor times. Hemp production posed problems that Banks failed to solve everywhere he tried, anywhere in the British Empire including Ireland, NSW, New Zealand, Canada, India, and he had no control at all over Russia, which one day might threaten to invade India! That, with existing technology, hemp as a crop was not amenable to large-scale commercial production and handling of a kind that a government could regulate to its satisfaction? If this was a long-term historical dilemma for hemp production in England/Britain, Jiggens does not say it clearly.

1806: Hemp-growing fails to take in Canada: The British government found intractable problems once it had tried to promote hemp production in Canada from 1805. We consider here, Charles Frederick Grece (died 1844 in Lower Canada). He arrived in Montreal Canada in the autumn of 1805 as part of an Imperial venture, costly but fruitless, to cultivate hemp in Lower Canada. Ideas for this had grown since before 1800. Experiments were made by Isaac Winslow Clarke and William Grant, who were appointed agents to purchase hemp by Lt-Gov Sir Robert Shore. Clarke in 1802 sent consignments to London. Later involved was Philippe Robin from the island of Jersey and Philemon Wright, who both demanded and got large land grants for the purpose. Grece was followed for the purpose by James Campbell in 1806. Grece worked with Captain James Campbell, trying to promote extra hemp production. (Jiggens on hemp, p. 170. See also, Dictionary of Canadian Biography online on Grece as a specialist in hemp production.)

The British government spent 40,000 pounds of public and private capital between 1806-1809 but all efforts failed. Grece blamed his lack of success on expansion of the lumber trade, the high cost of labour and expanded trade in general. Both Campbell and John Lambert spoke of being subverted by a conspiracy to make them fail, and of having been given spoiled seed. Charles´ brother was John William Grece, earlier an England-Prussia grain merchant. In 1804 John William offered government to grow flax and hemp in Lower Canada in exchange for a township of 50,000 acres on the Ottawa River. His efforts also failed. As for the other hemp-advocate, James Campbell? Who had arrived in Canada in company with his nephew, John Lambert. Campbell´s genealogy is absent on the Internet, he had a rather invisible life. Ironically, his nephew Lambert became a still-respected travel writer on Canada and the USA, and likewise, little is known of Lambert apart from his writings. But the upshot seems to be that the synergies of the Canadian economy meant that the people of the lower orders had no interest at all in working with hemp as a cottage industry, other sorts of work were more tantalising. Hemp was not interesting.

Hemp fails as a down-market rural commodity

The same problem, that working with hemp was seen as a lower-class occupation with limited economic appeal, a down-market cottage industry, while other activities were more enticing, probably affected ideas of hemp production in NSW. Which might be why the Bells´ hemp production at Singleton has remained so little known. In the American colonies before the Revolution, farmers would debate how to treat hemp once it had been grown. Some treated it in ways which only led to black-spotting of the crop; others treated it in water in ways arguable. Hemp has not a happy, comfortable rural product to deal with. It seems it was only grown by people who had little other cropping choices but to deal with hemp, a bothersome crop.

There are other quibbles one could have about this book, but enough. The Botany Bay Debate has become sterile but nor will it go away. As debate, it is merely about which was the predominant motive for Britain to settle a new colony anywhere in Australia, starting at Botany Bay. My own present view of the debate is that the best way to look at the relevant histories is to pay attention to the actual records of the maritime history, and to remember what a trenchant critic of the plan, who was probably a propagandist for the East India Company, said before the First Fleet had sailed. He complained that the entire colonisation plan was altogether too protean. Meaning, it was too open-ended, too loose, too ill-digested, too clever-by-half, and had altogether too many packages in it, any of which might become unmanageable. It is true, that there were ideas floating about in official minds of finding extra naval stores, of expanding British trade; there was most certainly a high level of political agitation about getting rid of an excess population of convicts sentenced to transportation. In this protean context of 1786, perhaps Jiggens would have been better-advised to consider just how many problems Britain could have solved at once, just by starting a new colony? Anywhere.

As a history book, although he says it is only a short review, Jiggens´ book is quite unworthy to be considered as a useful contribution to studies on the career of Sir Joseph Banks. Or as a useful contribution to The Botany Bay Debate. Nor is it particularly useful as a contemporary polemic helping to re-popularise the commercial use of hemp, which is a quite separate topic. As a review of ¨history¨ it is misleading. It seems then that Jiggens´ Question of Hemp theory is best left to a readership of late C20th and early C21st century dopers and other observers of Australian popular culture since babyboomer times began.

(Ends review)

NSW as a colony for hemp growing? A rebuttal

By Dan Byrnes

Once again The Botany Bay Debate raises its hoary head, asking for discussion ...

From ABC radio webpage for Radio National, Ockham´s Razor (broadcast on 9-9-2012.) ... Two hundred years ago hemp, cannabis sativa, was used as the basis for sail and rope. In the Age of Sail hemp was as important as oil is in the modern era. Historian Dr John Jiggens wrote a book called Sir Joseph Banks and the Question of Hemp, in which he used previously unpublished documents by Sir Joseph Banks on the hemp question.

Robyn Williams (presenter of Ockham´s Razor): There’s a book on my desk which features the glossy portrait of a man you know in all his finery, red sash, large medallion, buttoned great coat and the face – all authority, determined jaw and imposing brow; for it is Sir Joseph Banks, whose name resounds all over Australia from Bankstown to banksias representing our firm link to a scientific tradition from the very beginnings of the European colony. But then there’s the title of the book Sir Joseph Banks and the Question of Hemp. Can this be serious? Was Joe a hippy? What’s the story? Well here for your edification and mine is historian Dr John Jiggens – make of it what you will.

John Jiggens: In 1995 I helped organise an Australian tour for Jack Herer, the author of a book called The Emperor Wears No Clothes, which was subtitled the true authoritative history of cannabis hemp. Herer was an amateur historian and a crusader against marijuana prohibition who had discovered that marijuana was also this plant called hemp, which had once been an extremely important plant, but was now banned because it was said to be an evil drug plant. During his research Herer discovered the founding fathers of the US, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, had grown hemp, while the sixth president, John Quincy Adams had even written an essay on the growing of hemp in Russia when he was Consul there.

Herer concluded that hemp had been the most important plant on the planet and he developed the theory that marijuana prohibition had come about as a back door attempt to make hemp illegal. Hemp had been banned because of the economic competition it offered to the plastic industry, to paper from trees and to new synthetic fibres like Nylon.

As a historian I found Herer’s history of cannabis remarkable, yet he was such a cannabis enthusiast that some of his conclusion seemed far-fetched. I set to work researching the history of hemp in Australia and I was surprised to discover that Herer’s claims about hemp’s historical importance were justified. From reading the documents about the founding of Australia and from reading books like Blainey’s The Tyranny of Distance I came to see how central concerns about hemp were in Britain in 1786 when the decision for New South Wales was made.

The history we had been taught at school, that convicts were the original reason for settlement was simply a cover story. New South Wales was intended as a hemp colony. For Europeans in the Age of Sail, cannabis did not mean marijuana; it meant hemp, the long vegetable fibre extracted from the stem of the European hemp plant. The word canvas comes from the Dutch word for cannabis. To fit out a first rate man-of-war required 80 tons of hemp for sails, cables and rigging and to produce that much hemp 320 acres of Cannabis sativa had to be grown. Because it was the basis for sail and rope hemp was as central to sea power and empire in the Age of Sail as oil is in our era.

Just as the oil industry provides the technological basis for our commerce and our warfare, 200 years ago hemp was basic to the technology of war and trade. As oil supplies and alternatives to oil occupy some of the greatest minds of our era, 200 years ago, Sir Joseph Banks was preoccupied with hemp supplies and alternatives to hemp.

In the course of my research I became aware that Sir Joseph Banks played a central role in planning the colony of New South Wales and that Banks was deeply interested in hemp. Just as the founding fathers of the US were hemp enthusiasts, so was the founding father of Australia. My breakthrough came while reading Joseph Maiden’s biography, Sir Joseph Banks – The Father of Australia, where I discovered a reference to a file in the Kew Banks’ collection called Hemp 1764-1810. For many years I have been sifting through this file, laboriously deciphering Banks’ gout-crippled handwriting, trying to understand the history it contained. Having long suspected Banks’ central role in British hemp policy I was pleased to discover that the file more than confirmed my view.

The conventional explanation for the British settlement of New South Wales was that Britain needed to find an alternative outlet for disposing of its burgeoning criminal classes. Since the British sent out convicts on the First Fleet it seemed reasonable to believe that they simply wanted Australia as a gaol. Yet the cost of establishing a convict settlement halfway round the world was so great that historians like K. M. Dallas suggested that ´the dumping of convicts view´ was too simple and that there were hidden reasons.

In Sir Joseph Banks and the Question of Hemp I suggest that the hidden reason behind the settlement in New South Wales was the need for a replacement hemp colony, rather than a replacement prison. My analysis of the hemp trade between 1776 and 1815 shows that the need for a hemp colony was a recurring theme in British strategic thinking during the Georgian era.

Banks’ hemp file was my entry point to the question of hemp. In 1797 at the height of the French Revolutionary Wars Sir Joseph Banks was appointed to the Privy Council Committee of Trade, the main instrument of the British state dealing with trade and colonies. At this crucial point in the struggle with France, Banks assumed charge of hemp policies for the British Empire. The file, ‘Hemp 1764 to1810’ contained Banks’ working papers on hemp during this period. The major document in this file was a report on the hemp question that Banks delivered to the Committee of Trade in 1802. An important reason for the differing opinions about the founding of Australia is that we lack substantial documentation to explain the intent of the British government in 1786.

Apart from the 15 paragraphs in the Heads of a Plan for Botany Bay there is an historical vacuum. One of the 15 paragraphs in the Heads of a Plan is concerned with the importance of the New Zealand hemp plant for naval supplies. There is substantial corroborative evidence in the journals and the letters of the early governors and officers to support the hemp colony theory; however this paragraph has been the major evidence that British government concerns over hemp prompted the Botany Bay decision.

This explains why Banks’ Privy Council file on hemp and the Indian Office files on the Indian hemp experiment are so important. What these files disclosed was a second British hemp experiment in the Georgian era in India, but a much better documented hemp experiment, with the question of hemp comprehensively addressed in Banks’ report to the Committee of Trade and in George Sinclair’s memorial to the East India Company (hereafter referrred to as EICo). Although there is a dearth of documentation on the New South Wales hemp experiment, these files on the Indian hemp experiment contained hundreds of pages of discussion and analysis of the hemp question. Because of the short interval between the two hemp experiments, it can be confidently inferred that the benefits that were advanced for the Indian hemp trial were identical to those that prompted the New South Wales hemp trial.

Banks’ scheme to solve the question of hemp with cannabis plantations in India was undone by an error in cannabis taxonomy. Although he was informed that hemp grew well in India, the cannabis of India, Cannabis indica, was different from Cannabis sativa, Indian hemp or ganga had been developed as an inebriant, not a fibre crop. Because they looked similar, the British assumed the plants were the same and that the Indians were foolishly ignorant of ganga’s quality as a hemp. And so the British grew plantations of ganga for hemp in India, unaware that they were trying to turn dope into rope.

But ganga, Cannabis indica, is a separate species to hemp, it is not a fibre crop just as hemp is not a drug crop. As well as revealing British hemp policies, Banks’ hemp file records his meeting with the Indian hemp plant. The existence of a drug variety of cannabis was puzzling to Banks and his investigators, because hemp does not have the same intoxicating qualities as ganga. Having procured a source of the drug Banks supplied the poet Coleridge with a quantity of Indian hemp. Not only was Banks a substantial cultivator of the drug cannabis, he was also the first recorded supplier of drug cannabis in England.

The species question in cannabis is contentious, but over the centuries the polytypic theory of cannabis, the idea that there are several cannabis species, has developed. First argued by Lamarck, Banks’ contemporary, and extended by the Russians in the early 20th century, the polytypic theory contends that there are three species of the genus cannabis, sativa, indica and ruderalis. This view is reinforced by the disappointment of Banks’ Indian hemp experiment, which failed because the British incorrectly assumed that the Indian hemp plant ganga was the same as European hemp.

In revealing how this error was made, I hope to clarify the cannabis debate and allow for more sensible cannabis laws. At the moment hemp, Cannabis sativa, is regulated as though it were ganga, Cannabis indica. We ban hemp on the pretext that it is marijuana. As a consequence the growing of hemp is illegal in many jurisdictions and in others it is so heavily regulated that the industry can barely survive. I hope that this disambiguation of hemp and marijuana will aid the revival of this important plant.

In its day hemp was the most important vegetable on the planet. During the age of oil, hemp has been dethroned, slandered and banned. The resulting mineralisation of the economy has been a major cause of growth of greenhouse gasses. The re-vegetabilisation of the economy that a revival of the hemp industry will bring offers us the chance to change this.

Robyn Williams: Dr John Jiggens in Brisbane ... maybe he wants us to return to sail, it’ll be more serene, unless there’s a storm of course, but should take a little longer. His book is Sir Joseph Banks and the Question of Hemp. I’m Robyn Williams

Herer, Jack The Emperor Wears No Clothes. Ah Ha Publishing, Van Nuys, CA, 1985. (Which has gone through eleven editions, see the Wikipedia page on this book.)
Hemp 1764-1810, Kew (UK), Banks Collection.
Dallas K. M., ´The First Settlement in Australia, considered in relation to sea-power in world politics´, THRA P&P, 1952, No. 3,12. (Or, see K. M. Dallas, ‘The first settlements in Australia: considered in relation to sea-power in world politics’, pp. 39-49 in Ged Martin, (Ed.), The Founding of Australia: The Argument about Australia’s Origins. Sydney, Hale and Iremonger, 1978.)
Hemp and Flax 1790-1805,IOR/H/375
Heads of a Plan for Botany Bay, Historical Records of New South Wales, Volume 1, part 2.
Schultes, Richard Evans, Klein, William M, Plowman, Timothy, and Lockwood, Tom E., Cannabis: An Example of Taxonomic Neglect. (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Botanic Museum, 1974.

We find the following from the website of the Courier Mail, Brisbane, that: 1 The British settled Australia in a strategic bid to corner the hemp market rather than house excess convicts, according to Brisbane historian and writer Dr John Jiggens in his new book, Sir Joseph Banks and the Question of Hemp. With hemp a staple for sails, ropes and other necessities 200 years ago, Jiggens argues that Banks was charged with boosting supplies of the plant and finding alternatives to it. (www.coop-bookshop.com.au, $27.95).

Dr John Jiggens, historian, Queensland University of Technology. Email to: john@drjiggens.com. Website: www.drjiggens.com/index.html

Dan Byrnes comments here ... Here we seem to have a case of elements of an old argument in early Australian-European history being hijacked to fit the terms of a contemporary international argument about drugs, the modern uses of hemp, and also, climate change. And I believe this is reprehensible as a misuse of history. As historian, Jiggens mostly resembles a one-issue politician who is unlikely to contribute usefully to debates.

None of this news about hemp is as new as it might seem to many in Australia, or anywhere else in world. But if hemp was an important commodity for British sea-power in the late eighteenth century, which it was, let us first consult a list of notable British hemp merchants, and/or users of hemp supplies (equipment for ships, sails, ropes, etc). Unfortunately, there is relatively little on Britain´s hemp merchants in history books, in terms of British interest in hemp supplies (sometimes known as naval stores). This in turn is partly due to another unhelpful situation. Britain did gain much of her naval supplies from Russia (timber, hemp). Therefore her Russia merchants would need to be studied. They have not however, been studied as a merchant group operating long-term in their own right as Russia merchants. Why not? It seems to be because between 1780-1810, Russia merchants loomed large in the anti-slavery movement, especially those based around Clapham, London. Interest historians have taken in Russia merchants in this period has been supplanted by interest in the abolition movement. Yet Britain might have sent 120 ships per year to-and-fro Russia, a substantial trade. Studies on Russia merchants are too few to be helpful to the present argument.

Some of Britain´s hemp merchants to 1810

Early names - Owen Buckingham (1649-1713), a Lord Mayor of London in 1704-1705 and a Whig in politics. Second son of a Kent innkeeper. He bought Erlegh/Erleigh Court. Buckingham, of Bread Street London had six wives. Member Butchers Co. He was a sometime salter, later a flaxman. He invested in a large-scale venture of sailmaking and linen-making at Reading, also intending to employ the poor. He became a hemp merchant researching techniques used in Holland and France. He took contracts to supply sail to the navy but in his view, he failed to sell enough to them and had to consider giving up. Later he became involved in a scheme to sell tobacco to Russia, exchanged for naval stores, and he also traded to the Canary Isles and Barbados. See his own UK parliamentary page and Christie on non-elite MPs, p. 59.

Financier Stephen Evance, died 1712 a suicide. He had much property in Essex. Evance, originally a goldsmith, is often noted in the history of the expansion of England's money markets and the development of more sophisticated financial vehicles. He was of the Goldsmith's Co. A Commissioner of Excise, 1689-1698. A Commissioner of Wine Licences 1690-1701. Receiver on salt and beer duties, 1694. Jeweller to King William, 1697-1702, and to Queen Anne 1702 till her death. Also a receiver of Stamp Duties 1703, Commissioner for subscriptions to South Sea Co 1712. Governor of Hollow Sword Blades Co, 1691-1692, Died 5 March 1712 hanging from an attic window in a relative's house. Or, it has been asked, did he shoot himself due to being sued by Sir Thomas Littleton, Treasurer of Royal Navy and being unable to meet the sum, a matter arising from Evance being guarantor for Hubbalds who had arrangements with the Navy?

Amongst other activities, Evance was connected with the Hudson's Bay Co. (chartered 2 May 1670), as The Company of Adventurers of England Trading into Hudson's Bay, and he was once cashier of Hudson's Bay Co., that is, handling its financial transactions. He dealt in furs and established a trade to Russia for furs and hemp. He bought stock in White Paper Makers Co., the Royal Africa Co. and EICo, and tried with the Hudson´s Bay Co. to develop royal copper mines which would supply copper to the royal mint. He was Governor of the Hudson's Bay Co. 1692-1696, having bought his first HBC stock in 1684. Evance´s bullion (silver) accounts from March 1688 to August 1690 are found to be helpful by scholars interested in the "shock of international military payments". Some of his customers were David Penso, Jacob Gabay, Gomes and Alfonso Rodriguez, Joseph Bueno Henriques (all Sephardic London Jews with connections in Amsterdam plus Alexander Henderson in Amsterdam). Evance exported bullion and acquired government debt. He died unmarried, having shot himself in the belief he had failed financially, which he had not done in fact, and when all his debts were paid his niece Hester Child still got a good inheritance. He also had next of kin, Mary Ward. As a goldsmith-banker, Evance had once handled "the Pitt diamond". In 1695 he and/or Mr Shales possibly received overtures about furnishing the army in Flanders. In 1692 Evance, Sir F. Child (the first to give up goldsmithing for banking), and Sir Joseph Herne advanced to government for the expenses of the government of Ireland. Evance (of the Black Boy, Lombard St) supplanted F. Child as jeweller to the king.

George Colebrooke (died 1809). A contractor to government. In 1771 he lost between 170,000-190,000 pounds in a hemp speculation; he was a noted speculator in commodities and once tried to corner the world market in alum (a dye for fabrics). Sometime deputy chairman then chairman of East India Co. His bank closed in 1773 and he finally bankrupted.

London merchant James Crockat: active by 1760. Known as a "Scotch-Jew" for his business practices in South Carolina. An Indian trader. About 1750 he bought Luxborough Hall near Chigwell Essex. (See W. Roy Smith, South Carolina as a Royal Province. (1903) and D. D. Wallace, Life of Henry Laurens for the years 1744-1747. In 1764 James and Charles Crockat and John Nutt wanted a bounty to be applied to hemp growing in the American colonies. James Crockat became a leading Charleston merchant. But he is given as London merchant in Sir Lewis Namier, The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George III. Edn 2. London, Macmillan, 1957., p. 319. In 1760 the Crockat interest took in Alexander Watson and Richard Grubb. James at one point was at CharlesTown, Carolina, commercially linked to his brother John, and Ebenezer Simmons and Benjamin Smith, arrangements which dissolved in 1745, and Smith then took one John Palmer as a partner, during the 1759 troubles with the Cherokee Indians, Joseph Nutt was in South Carolina handing military supplies, and in 1760 and 1761, Smith and Nutt imported 600 slaves, and here, Nutt and Crockat also dealt with John Beswicke; there were matters also perhaps with South Carolina merchants Henry Laurens, Benjamin Smith and John McQueen. James by 1736 was supposed to have become prominent in insurance, and in 1739 he returned to London where he traded extensively with America and also Canada. In 1749 he became London agent for South Carolina and remained so for seven years. In 1744 Henry Laurens was sent to London to be trained by Crockat and Laurens hoped a partnership would eventuate, but this was not so due to misunderstandings or worse. One Charles Crockatt was much less a businessman; some of his transactions went awry and he shot himself. In later years one Henry Crockatt was for a time a partner with J. J. Angerstein, a senior figure at Lloyd´s of London. Angerstein was a personal friend of Geo III. It seems probable that if Britain lacked supplies of hemp, the names at Lloyd´s of London could have rustled up enough investment to take care of the problem, more so if the king became concerned. None of which happened as far as the colonisation of early European Australia was concerned.

London ropemaker Philip Splidt, date of death unknown. His name can be associated with too great a variety of possible addresses. Perhaps at Cannon Street, Radcliffe Highway. Possibly of 74 Cable Street St George East. Possibly of Limehouse Causeway, St Ann, Limehouse, Midx. Philip Splidt probably had a partner/brother, Christian. There had been a Philip Splidt who had a Will proved in 1764. Item, there was a partnership dissolved by 15 October 1806 between Philip and Christian Splidt of Cable Street, rope makers, hemp dealers and Russia merchants. Christian was also perhaps a sugarbaker. Kent´s Directory for 1794, gives Philip and Christ. Splidt, Rope Line, Twine and Netmakers, 74 Cable Street, Near Welclose Square. Philip was insured there in 1793.

Dr. Helenus I Scott (1756-1821 born in Bombay) was a military surgeon for the East India Company at Bombay before repairing to Bath, Somerset. His son was Helenus II Scott (1802-1879) who came to NSW in 1821, and was later of Glendon near Singleton. Helenus I was an ancestor of the noted NSW historian and book collector, David Scott Mitchell, whose collection formed the basis of the major library of Australiana, Sydney´s Mitchell Library. (See Mitchell´s own ADB entry online.) Helenus II about 1804 was a partner with one Luke Ashburner. Their operation was in touch with Sir Joseph Banks in London, re cultivating hemp for sails by 1804 or so, as is noted in Bulley, Bombay Ships, p. 99, p. 178, on Bombay ships in the country trade. (See Pemberton, lists of AACo investors.) The Helenus II family was involved in the failure of Bank of Australia in 1840s, which left him almost penniless. He had a Hunter Valley horse stud and latterly was a police magistrate. See also, James Broadbent, Suzanne Rickard and Margaret Steven, India, China, Australia: Trade and Society, 1788-1850. Sydney, Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, 2003.

Thomas Edward Rowcroft (c1768-1824 died at Lima Peru), the first British diplomat in Peru as Consul-General. Described once as an East India merchant. Had an abrupt manner. (See the Australian Dictionary Biography entry on his son, Charles. Thomas Edward had a relative, Thomas Hubbert a shipbroker and sailcloth manufacturer. Frost in various of his writings has reported that Rowcroft, still only young as the First Fleet left, later sailed East, inspected Mauritius, did not succeed in East business, and returned to England in the 1790s to join his family´s business in the City. He did well, was elected alderman for Walbrook in December 1802, till 1808, and worked for public charities. His business was in Russian naval stores till 1810 when the Russian government became negative and Rowcroft claimed to have lost £300,000. He finally became consul to Peru, and died there 11 December, 1824. We do find a possibly relevant item, Pinkerton in 1796 of East Smithfield, a navy victualler to Hull, together with Alexander Tullock of Gould Square Critched Friars and Thomas Rowcrocft of City Chambers Bishopsgate. Cf, Alan Frost, ´Thomas Rowcroft´s Testimony and the ¨Botany Bay¨ Debate´, Labour History/Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, No. 37, November 1979, pp. 101-107, available online as a jstor article. Rowcroft is noted in Jiggens on hemp. Rowcroft´s son Horace by 1850 was in Geelong as editor of Geelong Advertiser.

Follows a list of Britain´s major Russia merchants 1760-1810, many of whom are graced with somewhat well-known biographies.
George Amyand (1720-1766).
Sir Daniel Bayley (1766-1834) who was with Russia Merchants Thornton and Bayley which dissolved in 1810, he later becaome Consul-General at St Petersburg.
Edmund Boehm (1741-1822) sometime Russia merchant who bankrupted in 1819 due to disruptions at the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
Thomson Bonar sometime Russia merchant and at Lloyd´s of London, murdered in 1813.
MP and Russia merchant John Brogden died 1800 who had a son James who was an investor in the Australian Agricultural Co., also a Russia merchant, and was a partner with one Pleschell.
Perhaps some of the large Cattley family of England, some of whom had interests in Russian trade.
Russia merchants the brothers Charles and Robert Dingley, had an agency at St Petersburg; Robert was a director of Bank of England and had a daughter married into the Hoare family of bankers.
Nicholas Garry (1781-1856), a linguist who spoke Russian, a Canadian with some Canadian Indian blood, with sometime Russia merchants, Garry and Curtis, the Curtis being probably Timothy Abraham Curtis (1786-1857), a son of London Alderman (Sir) William Curtis noted in the review above, which William placed his ship Lady Penrhyn in the First Fleet. Margaret Holt (1748-1812) a businesswoman of Whitby a Russia merchant in her own right, daughter of Whitby shipowner John Holt died 1783, and possibly a sister of London banker William Holt (died 1823).
Adrian Hope (1709-1781) one of the banker family Hope and Co. of Amsterdam, who dabbled in Anglo trade, and others of this Hope family.
MP and Russia merchant Joseph Mellish died 1790.
Robert Nettleton (died 1774), Russia merchant, Governor Bank of England 1756-1758 and governor Russia Co. 1753-1774.
George Peters (1720-1797) a director of the Russia Co; his son Henry Peters 1762-1827 was a banker and MP.
Russia merchant John Buncombe (died 1839) of the Russia merchants J. Thomson, T. Bonar and Co.
Russia merchant and director of Bank of England, Godfrey Thornton (1737-1805) who was from a family of Russia merchants which included Samuel Thornton (1754-1838).
A Russia merchant named Raikes.
Thomas Tooke (1774-1858) born in St Petersburg, Russia merchant with S. Thornton, Brothers and Co, Russia merchants, was also an economist and an investor in the Australian Agricultural Co.
Director of Russia Co., Arthur Henry Vansittart (1691-1760) who had a son Henry who was a Governor of Bengal, who had a brother Nicholas who was a London financier.
William Wilberforce and his associates who happened to be Russia Merchants, sometimes referred to as the Clapham Sect because they joined with Wilberforce as agitators for the Abolition of slavery. Today it seems as if their activities as Abolitionists is one of the reasons for so little British academic interest in the Anglo-Russia trades, disgust with slavery has simply engrossed historians more than the mostly sedate Russia trade.

On Brook Watson (1753-1807): A notable figure, from an American revolutionary point of view, Watson was a Loyalist. He is named as a British contractor in Norman Baker, Government and Contractors: The British Treasury and War Supplies, 1775-1783. London, The Athlone Press, 1971. (ISBN 0 485 13130 7) From August 1782 Watson was Commissary-General for British forces in New York. He was later partner in London with Robert Rashleigh who remains little known. Brook Watson in younger life had a leg bitten off by a Caribbean shark, in 1749 in Havana Harbour, which ruined his hoped-for naval career, so he went on to other things. Watson had been at Lloyd's since about 1772 and apparently was a secret service agent about 1775 in France, and he was against slavery in Dolben's time. For the year 1773 we find that (see Labaree, p. 295 re Boston Tea Party, and Drake, Tea Leaves) Watson and his partner Robert Rashleigh had sent tea that became victim of the Boston Tea Party, having had dealings with Benjamin Faneuil and Joshua Winslow; their arrangements are too complicated to detail here. Watson was later from 1782 a sometime Commissary-General for British forces in America during the American Revolution. Once he had returned to England working as a merchant with interests in Canada, he became a London alderman and was Lord Mayor in 1796. He retained considerable interests in Canada (Nova Scotia) and his brother had remained in Canada. As a London alderman he had indeed been interested in hemp from either NSW or New Zealand, with an eye to growing it in Canada, till about 1789, but he does not as a civic-minded Londoner seem to have been particularly interested in sending convicts to NSW. Watson then can be viewed as a merchant willing to look into hemp production, willing to work on the results of experiments in Australasia, none of which came to anything. Since a Lord Mayor had to have been a Sheriff of London, Watson should have been familiar with claims about excess numbers of transportable prisoners clogging Britain´s jails in the 1780s. Rashleigh, Watson´s partner, remains almost unidentifiable, and there is little on his life on the Internet.

Watson became Lord Mayor of London in 1796-1797. He perhaps had a nephew and heir Sir William Kay Bart who was a banker partner with Joseph Marryat, banker with names such as Price. For an early time Watson was a partner with Joshua Mauger, who was once a Halifax, Nova Scotia merchant. Watson had land on Nova Scotia. He was a director of Bank of England variously 1784-1806. Chairman Lloyd's 1796-1806. (He is noted in Namier/Brooke, Vol. 3, p. 611.) Stackpole, Rivalry, p. 145, a book on whaling, indicates that by 1792 Watson was dealing in minor amounts of whale oil with Americans, Captain Micajah Coffin and his brother Thomas at Dartmouth USA, although Stackpole gives the London end name of the firm as Brook, Watson and Co. (sic). Their address was Garlick Hill, London. Watson´s alleged role for strategic argument within The Botany Bay Debate is outlined in Frost, Convicts and Empire, p. 124 ... In 1785, Watson told a Canadian correspondent of the great value of New Holland flax being introduced to Canada. In 1789 he told Lord Hawkesbury, he wanted specimens of the New Zealand hemp. We are told little of the outcome of such concerns, however.

On Robert Rashleigh - see a Wikipedia page on Rashleigh family of Cornwall. The Watson-Rashleigh firm once for 850 pounds in Canada sold a house, wharf, paoash works, stores and outhouses, in Rue du Cap-Diamant, to Canadian merchant Robert Lester (1746-1807) as is in Lester´s entry in Dictionary of Canadian Biography online and on that same website see re William Hazen (1738-1814) who had fur trade and other business with Rashleigh and Watson by 1781-1782 from Halifax Nova Scotia. See UK parliamentary webpage for George Bridges (1762c-1840) MP who worked for Rashleigh and Watson (North American merchants) by before 1791 and was later a wine merchant at 38 Mincing Lane later at Walter Lane Thames Street. This Robert Rashleigh possibly had some links re land to Thomas Rashleigh in 1777. and Charles Rashleigh (1747-1823) lawyer of St Austell Cornwall, (who built Charlestown Harbour 1791-1795). In London, Robert Rashleigh was of 25 Garlick Hill.

The London-based convict contractor Joseph Somes was a sailmaker.

Closer to Australia

Colonel Francis Lucas (1762-1820) was of Blackheath, a wine merchant of Kent. His name is noted in Tooth Family History as his daughter Sarah married NSW pastoralist Edwin Tooth (1822-1858). (See Burke's Peerage for Lucas-Tooth and the Australian Dictionary of Biography entry for the Tooths brewers.) Francis Lucas had married Anne James the daughter of an unnamed jute, hemp and rope manufacturer (no further information).

Re John Campbell Burton died c.1830. A Bengal merchant and agent. Burton from 1809 in conjunction with Thomas Kent had ideas to cultivate hemp in NSW. (Burton was linked to the trade of Thomas Reiby Jnr. A man of this name was married to Elizabeth Caroline Farquhar.) See also, Anne-Maree Cox Whitaker, Joseph Foveaux: Power and Patronage in Early NSW. University NSW Press, 2000.)/

Meanwhile, on Thomas Kent, a Sydney merchant and speculator. He came to NSW recommended about 1807 by Samuel Enderby, who knew his family, and recommended also by Edward Thornton, a director of Bank of England. Kent formed a partnership with Burton, a Bengal merchant, and they explored ideas to import coolies and machinery for growing and manufacturing hemp in NSW, but nothing came of it. They had also wanted to try flax in New Zealand in conjunction with Simeon Lord and Alexander Riley. In 1812 Kent moved to Van Diemens Land and was to contract meat supply to the commissariat. He found coal in Van Diemens Land, tried alkali from seaweed, then moved into tanning. Kent claimed to have coined the name Tasmania for Van Diemens Land. (See his own entry in Australian Dictionary of Biography online.)

On Archibald Bell Snr. or Jnr. growing hemp at Singleton, see the review section above.

On American interests in hemp

On Welcome Arnold (1745-1798). He was five times Speaker of Assembly representing Providence, Rhode Island. He operated as a merchant-shipowner as [Caleb] Greene and Arnold, which dissolved in 1775. Welcome went on his own selling English goods, West-India goods, fabrics, lumber, snuff, flour, molasses, sugar, coffee, wine, iron goods, pig iron, later lumber of all kinds and shipped horses. He also bought Russia naval stores, eg hemp and he sold flax-seed. Arnold had run many privateers during the American Revolution and lost 30 in the period. In 1782 he had out the privateer Yorick. He was one of the suspected HMS Gaspee raiders (who included Abraham Whipple, Samuel Adams, John Brown, Theodore Foster, Joseph Jenks, John Mawney) in 1772, when HMS Gaspee, a ships customs inspection vessel of Rhode Island,, was led a chase by packet Hannah Captain Benjamin Lindsay and ended aground on Gaspee Point. Some 60-110 local men of a local population of about 4300 people went to Gaspee and burned her after taking off the people. No one testified against them. Welcome Arnold was 27 at the time. In 1788 Arnold partnered with Nicholas Brown re a rum distillery, and he triangle-traded rum for slaves, for molasses, for rum. See Papers of the American Slave Trade, Series A: Selections from the Rhode Island Historical Society. He was one of the 1796 investors in the Ohio Company.

Nathaniel Russell Jnr. (1738-1820) of Bristol, Rhode Island. He was notably active in the slave trade. A web message from Nathaniel Russell House (now a museum) in Charleston says he was son of Joseph Russell, a one-time Chief Justice of Rhode Island. Another view is that he is son of Nathaniel R. and Esther Perry. When he was 70 his household had 18 slaves. Russell became noted as Charleston's leading merchant after the American Revolution, as a New England merchant who went to Charleston South Carolina, aged 27, as an agent for merchants at Providence Rhode Island, notably his 1765 partner, Newport merchant Joseph Durfee. But Russell soon acted on his own. Then he represented Nicholas Brown, of Rhode Island. Then he exported rice, hemp, indigo,tar, pitch, pork, Indian corn, and imported rum, sugar, molasses, oil, candles and pimento. He also sold cargo(s) of slaves for up to 6000 pounds sterling on which his commission was 300 pounds sterling. Despite having some Patriot connections, for unknown reasons he went to London soon after the British occupied Charleston, in 1780 but was not punished as a Tory. Russell took part in seven sales of slaves, 1784-1805. His immediate family relates to the South Carolinan names, Dehon, Middleton, DeWolf, Jopton, Doar and Izard. Another Charleston slaver firm in his time was Clay, Telfair and Co.

Merchant Thomas Russell (1740-1796). He began early in the West Indies handling cargoes from New England merchants. He became a delegate from Boston to the convention in Massachusetts for the adoption of the US Federal Constitution in 1788, and was later president of Boston Chamber of Commerce. He is the Thomas Russell who once owned Longfellow House. Russell by 1792 was sending American ships to mainland Russia, dealing in iron, hemp and sail cloth. He had a ship Thomas and Sarah in the Russia trade and also dealt in sugar and coffee from Mauritius. He also sent ships to Lisbon, Portugal with fish, returning with fruit and wine. He was once president of Society for Propagating the Gospel Amongst the Indians and others in North America. He is the Thomas Russell who acted for London bankers Lane, Son and Fraser trying to retrieve monies from Nathaniel Tracy, who owned the Longfellow House from 1781-1786. Tracy bankrupted in 1786 and Thomas Russell then had the house 1786-1791, when Andrew Craigie, apothecary for the Continental Army, bought it. (Craigie died in debt, however.) Longfellow House had once been occupied by fleeing Loyalist John Vassall and wife Elizabeth Oliver from 1759, then occupied by Colonel John Glover and the Marblehead Regiment, then by George Washington from July 1775 to April-July 1776, then by Washington's apothecary Andrew Craigie, who bought the building in 1791.

Thomas Jefferson. Too well-known to mention, except to ask, to whom did he sell his hemp crop? How did he dispose of it?

George Washington. Too well-known to mention, except to ask, to whom did he sell his hemp crop?

Colonel Matthias Slough (1732-1812) is of interest only as his correspondence indicates some of the interests of Robert Morris, ¨the financier of the American Revolution¨. Slough was Colonel of a battalion, and he married Mary Gibson, a daughter of George Gibson (1708-1761) an innkeeper of Lancaster Co. and his wife Martha of Lancaster County; who were also parents of General John Gibson of the American Revolution, brother of Colonel George Gibson. Slough was a partner in 1781 with Tench Francis Jnr. with contracts to supply army posts, contracts complained of as unsatisfactory. See an Item at http://www.archive.org/stream/. Slough sometimes corresponded with Robert Morris, and in 1778 had written up to ten letters to Robert Morris, not so much business letters as about doings of personal favours. One Slough letter was regarding hemp and indigo.

American entrepreneur and US-India-China-Russia merchant William Gray (1750-1825) of Salem then Boston. (His own wikipedia page.) He seems to have sent ships to Russia from 1784? He had sent out a few privateers in the latter stages of the American Revolution. (See files at www.archive.org/stream/ by Edward Gray with Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston and New York, 1914.) At Salem, Gray as merchant was second to Elias Hasket Derby. Gray owned up to 113 vessels before 1815 and was said to be worth $3 million in 1809 when he left Salem for Boston. Unfortunately, many of his papers were destroyed by Boston's fire of 1872. By 1782 there there three William Grays in Salem, the man who is subject here is William Gray, probably the first Salem merchant to send a ship to China/India. The brig William and Henry was owned by Messrs Gray and Orne, and arrived from Canton in 1790. In 1792, Gray sent Captain William Ward to the East in brig Enterprise. He seems to have dealt with Bainbridge Ansley and Co. of London. Gray had been apprenticed to Samuel Gardner and then entered the counting house of Richard Derby. Probably significantly, his son Francis Calley Gray became Private Secretary to John Quincy Adams, who was appointed as Ambassador to Russia. (Cf, Edward Gray, William Gray, a merchant of Salem: a biographical sketch. Boston/New York, Houghton Mifflin, 1914. Gray is mentioned in a PDF online, Kalevi Ahonen, From Sugar Triangle to Cotton Triangle: Trade and Shipping between America and Baltic Russia, 1783-1860. University of Jyvaskla/Studies in Humanities, 38, 2005. The early US imports from Russia were bar iron, hemp and manufactures (ie hemp and flax cloths) while from US Russia received sugar, rice, tobacco, coffee, cotton, spices. Ahonen notes that up to 40 per cent of Russia´s foreign trade was estimated to have been illicit. One presumes that any illicit activity would be been divided between British, French and American ships captains.

Map Australia-New Zealand

Follows extra information on the Banksian background here ...

Enigmatic remarks can still be made about Banks. His biographer, Carter, has written: "The figure of Sir Joseph Banks is still only faintly etched on the historic records of the past two centuries. .... He remains to this day, therefore, a sort of historic ghost - a spectre that even at its best has been sensed only as a disarticulated mass and out of perspective. For this he was himself more responsible than anyone. He took few steps to ensure that his real shape and substance would survive..." (Note 1)

Note 1: Harold B. Carter, Sir Joseph Banks, 1743-1820. London, British Museum (Natural History), 1988.

This partial obscurity is possibly because Banks was a senior figure of English Freemasonry. He exerted much influence via Freemasonry, and he preferred his modus operandus would remain shadowy. However secretly he sometimes worked, he also seems to have been confident enough to know that the record of his achievements as a scientist with a long career, plus his earlier connections with Cook's first voyage, and the continent of Australia, would ensure that posterity remembered him. Which means, Banks' "shadowiness" was simply a result of a game he played, and result also of the undervalued status of science in his times. The proof that Banks did play a kind of game is evident, oddly enough, from records of maritime history relating to convict transportation to Australia - and the Pacific more generally. The evidence of Banks´ use of shipping resources tends not to support Jiggen´s theory about Banks´ view of the national importance of hemp (for shipping purposes), at least not as far as Banks´ own views of NSW are to be considered.

As a matter of course, Banks kept note of ship movements. He had an uncommonly good reputation with mariners and their employers, a reputation so good that mariners felt a a certain patriotism about his projects – and some such mariners were connected to the earliest shipping moving about Australia. While it goes without saying that merchants who were contracting to the British government to render services also felt themselves to be patriots -- such is what a military-fiscal state is about.

Some examples ... by 2 September, 1787, Gov. Phillip at Rio de Janeiro with the First Fleet to Australia, consigned to Banks per an unnamed Southern Whaler per Mr Morton, late master of HM Sirius, various items including balsam and gum. (Note 2)

Note 2: Notes from pp. 560ff, Appendix XIA, Carter's biography of Banks.

By 26 March, 1789, Francis Masson at Cape Town sent Banks 422 species of seeds and or bulbs, per the Alexander transport from NSW, a First Fleet ship on her way home.

On 27 May, 1790, Francis Masson at Cape Town sent Banks various seeds on a Dutch ship per Fryer, the late master of HMAV Bounty. (Note 3)

Note 3: Notes from pp. 560ff Appendix XIA, Carter's biography of Banks.

Most tellingly of all, by 2 June, 1790, Masson at Cape Town sent 41 and more species of seeds to Banks per Jackal Whaler, Capt. Raven. This was William Raven, who around 1786 was on sealing ships as part of South Whaler activity off the West African coast. Raven later became partner with the London South Whaler John St Barbe of Blackheath, and with the ship Britannia, the two became the first British operators to try sealing at Dusky Bay, New Zealand, Raven basing at Sydney for the ventures.

Biographer Carter lists the shipping used by Banks for such botanical deliveries, but saw no pattern in the shipping. The pattern was that many of the ship owners connected with the shipping which was helping Banks were contractors, or, connected with men living at Blackheath, London, and/or with government's determination to transport convicts to Australia. Banks as scientific botanist was also a finder of botanical commodities useful for commerce. In retrospect, it would be surprising if Banks was not aware of who managed which shipping which was assisting him - but this is not how historians have seen matters arising from the maritime records.

John Ledyard was an American adventurer who had been a crew member on Cook´s third voyage. Ledyard was impressed with prospects of gathering seal fur for sale in China from the Nootka Sound area, north-west America, and later stimulated American interest in that trade. However, Ledyard had notions as a world traveller/adventurer, which led to his North African adventure. As to John Ledyard's African adventures… Carter's biography of Banks tells us that by 1785, ideas had arisen in London to form a society to explore the interior of Africa. Banks in 1785 had not long assisted with the formation of the The Linnean Society, which had emerged while Banks ("the Great Panjandrum", read, senior Freemason) was president of The Royal Society, the first scientific society with similar interests in, broadly, "natural history", hence Banks' enduring interest in natural history and his continued interest in maritime discovery. The Pacific in 1770 had stimulated his geographic curiosity, and his interest in Asia and the Far East meant he remained interested in the activities of the East India Co. South Africa interested him as did New South Wales (New Holland). (Note 4)

Note 4: Carter, Banks, pp. 240-241.

Banks' interest in Africa was enlivened by the activities of Henry Smeathman. Banks had met Francis Masson in Holland from 1773. The 1785 voyage of Nautilus to Das Voltas Bay, on government business to look into a possible destination for transportable convicts, was partly stimulated by Henry Smeathman's views. But Banks also had more commercially-confidential botanical interests.

On 9 June 1788 was held a meeting of a social coterie, the Saturday Club, which often dined at St Alban's Tavern off Pall Mall. It became a semi-secret society for promoting the discovery of inland Africa. Men interested included Henry Beaufoy MP, FRS as secretary, Banks as Treasurer, Lord Rawdon FRS, the Bishop of Llandaff, and Andrew Stuart MP. From their earliest days, the committee were enjoined not to divulge information except to other members of the association as they might from time to time receive from persons sent on missions of discovery. This was partly due to rivalry with Muslims, and/or other international rivalries. In time the group's activities centred on Banks' residence at 32 Soho Square. Another meeting would be on Friday 13 June, 1788.

Banks remained busy with his usual wide range of projects. By November 1787, Banks, suffering gout for two months, was assailed by the East India Company and Lord Hawkesbury on matters related to cotton, tea and cochineal (the latter originally from Mexico, a Spanish possession). The same month, November 1787, Banks had news of Geo III's "indisposition", that is, his bout of madness. On 13 November, 1787, Banks received papers from Thomas Morton, secretary of the EICo, on ideas for establishing a botanic garden for Calcutta and publication of a natural history of India. (Note 5)

Note5: Carter, Banks, pp. 246ff, pp. 271-273.

By 27 December, 1787, Banks had delivered to William Devaynes (Note 6) a report on possibilities for tea culture in India. Banks would find that at Calcutta, Robert Kyd could help organise a botanic garden on the western bank of the Hooghly River (though Kyd died in May 1793, to be replaced by William Roxburgh).

Note 6: On William Devaynes (c.1730-1809). A contractor to government. Banker with Crofts, Roberts, Devaynes and Dawes, bankers and financial brokers, 39 Pall Mall, London. He had commercial and banker interests and was a leader in the East India Co. directorate after 1770. He became a large government contractor, 1776-1782 with John Hennicker and George Wombwell and Edward Wheler with victualling contracts for 12,000-14,000 men in America. All except Henniker were directors of EICo and friends of Warren Hastings in India. He was by 1777 the only commissioner of the Africa Co. in Parliament, at a time when the EICo was accused of allowing private trade to be set up tending to a monopoly. Devaynes had a mulatto daughter mentioned in his Will. (Notet 6) (Note 7) Devaynes had a brother John (1726-1801) who was an apothecary to George III/the Queen´s household. Meaning he was well-connected.

Note 6: William Devaynes was a leading commercial figure in the London City by 1790. See Frost, Convicts and Empire, p. 62, p. 99.

Note 7: On the name Devaynes, see also Christie, non-elite MPs. Namier/Brooke, Vol. 2, p. 319. Sources other. www.sl.nsw.gov.au/ has an item on one William Devaynes of the EICo, a letter to him from Sir Joseph Banks of 6 June 1794 (Series 17.04).

By later November, 1788, after further discussions with the East India Company, Banks found that the Company's deputy-chairman, banker Francis Baring, was inviting him to enlarge his views on the growing tea in India. Earlier in 1788, Lord Hawkesbury had asked Banks if it was not possible to grow tea in any British dominions in the East or West Indies, so as to relieve Britain's dependence on China? Here, Baring was exercising dual interests as a private trader and a Company director. Henry Dundas (Lord Melville) was also prodding Hawkesbury to prod Banks.

Banks told Hawkesbury that given existing English failures to cultivate tea, and he recalled French attempts to cultivate tea in Corsica in 1785, he thought tea could be tried about Bengal's Assam area. (And as it turned out, Britain would not try tea there for another 50 years, after the first Anglo-Chinese Opium War, when Britain had found itself annoyed with China for a great many reasons. In fact, the establishment of the Bengal branch of the Assam Co. was in 1839. The provisional secretary of the Assam Co. was William Prinsep (1794-1874), an employee of Palmer and Co. of Calcutta, and a sometime indigo broker, whose father John Prinsep (1746-1831), had been a pioneer of indigo production in India, who had by 1800 returned to London, had been mildly interested in shipping convicts to Australia, and inspected early prospects for wool production in New South Wales as per the promotions of John Macarthur of Paramatta. (Note 8) (Note 9)

Note 8: William Pinsep has been credited with the establishment of the Indian tea industry. For more information on the Prinseps see notes to the Prinsep genealogy which is part of this Merchant Networks Project website. For more on the development of British-grown tea in India from 1848, see a wikipedia page e on Robert Fortune (1812-1880) from the 1840s was the British tea expert (tea thief? who helped India's tea production.

Note 9: From Carter’s biography of Banks, variously.

Banks by 27 December 1788 had delivered to Baring a 2000-word essay on tea culture. Some information also went to Lord Hawkesbury, mentioning tea possibly at Bihar. An idea had arisen, could tea be transplanted from Hainan with the co-operation of renegade Chinese willing to work for the East India Company? Given the messagings involved, it is easy to see why Banks kept an eye on shipping movements. At Calcutta, the botanical gardener there, Colonel Kyd, would assist experiments, teaching Indians how to cultivate tea. But this would all need the support of the Company directors in London; it might be unwise to mention the plan to the Company's supercargoes at Canton, as they might spoil such a plan.

Any plans would remain secret – Britain was planning to steal China's tea, to be less dependent on Chinese good will. And here was Banks, not the botanist as distinterested scientist, but the botanist as a planner of commodity production. Otherwise, if the Company directors approved the plan, Banks would put himself at the disposal of the company. Carter writes, Banks was "convinced that the objective was also of real importance to the country at large". Banks mentioned tea, also indigo as a possible production for India, adding coffee, chocolate, vanilla, cochineal and cotton, even sugar. Not surprisingly, cochineal produced a red dye. One imagines, the correct red for British redcoats. (The French called it "Dutch scarlet".) Baring as merchant was already interested in tea and cochineal, as is mentioned in Ziegler's biography of Baring. (Note 10)

Note 10: Philip Ziegler, The Sixth Great Power: Barings, 1762-1929. London, Collins, 1988., pp. 25-39.

Baring became an East India Co. director in 1779 and became leader of its City Interest, which supported Pitt. By 1786, due to recent deaths of Company directors, Baring as the most experienced of the Court of Directors remained close to Pitt and Dundas. He became Company chairman in 1792-1793. In 1791 he had opposed Dundas as Dundas wanted to abolish the Secret Committee of the Company (an inner council of directors,) as well as to reduce the number of directors as part of reforming the Company structure. Baring was chief negotiator for the directors, and was given his baronetcy for his work on the Company's behalf. Barings´ private opinion was that many of the other Company directors were either fools or knaves; and he had two sons in the East, Thomas in Bengal and Henry in China, opium being one commodity they regularly handled.

Carter writes, Banks wanted secrecy for any cochineal plan. The Spanish to date had retained a monopoly on cochineal handling. Cochineal was of two kinds, a fine-refined type giving a richer dye, and sylvester cochineal. The noted British wool dealer John Maitland had samples of both kinds of cochineal. Banks had been in communication since February 1787 with Dr James Anderson, (later physician-general of the East India Company at Madras), about a potential cochineal insect possibly native to India? The Company directors, including Baring, remained very cautious - Banks was still dealing with their secret committee. (Note 11)

Note 11: Carter, Banks, pp. 273-275.

Banks, whose connections were impeccable, had arranged that the governor-to-be of New South Wales, Arthur Phillip, would collect samples of cochineal (nopal) with its attendant insects at Rio de Janeiro for transport to Botany Bay, and Phillip did succeed in keeping his samples alive while he was at Botany Bay.

In January 1788, pressured by Baring, Banks sent a memorial to the Company directors on cochineal as "an object of national importance,". Banks employed his correspondent in Honduras, James Bartlet, to send samples of cochineal (fina) insects to London for later transportation to India. Banks by 11 March, 1790 sent to the EICo secretary, now William Devaynes, a proposal for a reward of £1000 for the procurement of the true cochineal from Spanish America. By 1792, this was uprated to £2000. (Note 12)

Note 12: It has been thought by some researchers lately working (as late as 2012) that Thomas Morton, a sometime secretary of the EICo, was a nephew of Anthony Calvert of the London slaving firm Camden, Calvert and King. This has been found by 2012 to be incorrect by Sydney-based historian Gary Sturgess (pers comm, email of 2012 to this website). Thomas Morton the secretary of the EICo is nevertheless still not easy to identify genealogically in his own right. Nor are many other EICo secretaries; they were a mostly invisible breed of bureaucrat.

Late in 1792, by 1 October, Banks had taken advantage of the sailing of the Macartney expedition and embassy to China - they would obtain at Rio the cochineal insects sylvester, and these were shipped per the Enderby-owned whaler, Hero Capt Folger. (Enderbys lived at Blackheath near John St Barbe.) These samples reached the Thames by 25 February, 1793. But Banks' cultivation experiments here failed. (Yet another shipping firm with principals living at Blackheath at this time were the Larkins family, owners of Royal Admiral, a one-time convict transport to New South Wales before 1800. NB: Larkins genealogy has been posted as part of this website.)

Banks in May 1793 had recommended Christopher Smith as a gardener for the Botanical garden at Calcutta, and early in September 1794 he sailed with assistant Peter Good from Kew on Royal Admiral Captain Bond with a consignment of useful plants for Calcutta Botanic Gardens, landed on 27 February, 1795, and it appears Royal Admiral soon was to go back to England. But before she did sail, there arrived at Calcutta Captain Nelson of the 74th Regiment with two small nopal plants from Rio with plenty of cochineal insects (sylvester). Experiments resulted in a cochineal dye at least equal to the South America sylvester cochineal. By 18 August, 1796, Banks reported to Sir Hugh Inglis that the cochineal insect could re reared more effectively in India than in Brazil, and now a lucrative trade could supplant that of the Spanish. But Banks felt he had endured eight years of alternate enthusiasm and neglect from the EICo directors, (there had earlier been a leak and the Spanish had found out about his plans for cochineal transplantation). (Note 13) (Note 14)

Note 13: At this time, Sir Hugh Inglis (1744-1820) would have been at least a director of the EICo. He was three times a chairman of the Co.

Note 14: Carter, Banks, p. 276.

Carter writes, " Thus, in the record of those two months alone, we have a glimpse of the botanical returns arriving at Kew from three great voyages - the 'First Fleet' under Governor Phillip to Botany Bay; the Vancouver expedition to the N-W coast of America; and the second bread-fruit voyage of Bligh to Tahiti - with Banks somewhere at the centre and management of them all. (By 1807, Francis Masson was communicating with Banks from Upper Canada and with various governors of NSW.) (Note 15) (Note 16)

Note15: Carter, Banks, pp. 283-284.

Note 16: Carter, Banks, pp. 283-284.

From 1785, Dundas had been concerned with Banks with Indian problems of mutual concern, such as East India Co. operations at Canton. Banks here was assisted by John Duncan and later his brother Alexander as resident EICo surgeons at Canton. (Note 17)

Note 17: Carter, Banks, pp. 290ff.

Carter writes, "The combination of Banks and Dundas in mounting an embassy to China followed from their regular association in the affairs of the [EICO] Company and of the Privy Council Committee for Trade and Foreign Plantations. From Dundas, in harness with Pitt, came the political drive that set the [Macartney] Embassy in motion and framed its official instructions. From Banks came the advice which gathered men and information for the more technical purposes of this first real British adventure into the closed world beyond the precarious entrepot of Canton."

In late autumn 1791, Lord Macartney was appointed to lead an embassy to China, as a man with best diplomatic and administrative experience to China, and in January 1792 Banks wrote to Macartney a hard-nosed letter concerned with the intellectual pillaging of China and its easily-learned philosophy, with an eye to the revenue of the British Empire. Banks gave Macartney 78 volumes which would assist him in his endeavours. (Note 18)

Note 18: Carter, Banks, pp. 290-294.

Macartney's embassy for China set sail from Spithead on Wednesday 26 September, 1792, with Macartney and his entourage on HM Lion Capt. Erasmus Gower. A guard was attending on the Indiaman Hindostan Capt. William McIntosh, plus the slow-sailing brig Jackal. The embassy reached Chusan Roads on 3 July, 1793, and later went up to Peking (Beijing) – where the Chinese emperor dismissed these European strangers with some contempt. Banks kept in touch by mail sent via every useful ship, and some plants such as nutmeg and mangosteen plants had been sent via homing Indiamen Royal Admiral (managed by Larkins family members) and Sulivan p. 295 by Banks' colleague Staunton. (Note 19)

Note 19: Carter, Banks, p. 295.

And at the time arose other issues for Britishers - re naval stores from Russia, with the Russia Co. in London, whether trade should be entirely in British bottoms ... re naval stores, timber, pitch, tar, hemp, sailcloth, iron and steel. Britain needed to sell wool to Russia as a defence against Silesian competition, especially as British export trade was one third of woolens, and the trade balance was one-third against Britain. On the other hand, Russia remained heavily dependent on British merchants and British shipping for her own export income and a steady flow of money. (Note 20)

Note 20: Carter, Banks, pp. 295-303.

It appears then that by 2012, research work within the terms of The Botany Bay Debate has reached the point where it has become pointless to theorise further without closer consultation of the records of maritime history. Which amounts to knowing which ship´s captain sailed for which shipowner, why, and to where. We can also conclude that where historians are considering the reasons why Britain settled a colony at Botany Bay (Sydney), a good many commodities that were valued by British merchants, and the British government, need to be considered - where convict labour can be viewed as a commodity in its own right. To unduly emphasise any single commodity of potential value to the early colony at ¨Botany Bay¨ is futile and misleading.

Dan Byrnes - September 2012

Arrow graphicReferences other: Australian Dictionary of Biography online, entries various, and also from Canadian Dictionary of Biography online, India Dictionary of Biography. See a PDF online, Kalevi Ahonen, From Sugar Triangle to Cotton Triangle: Trade and Shipping between America and Baltic Russia, 1783-1860, University of Jyvaskla/Studies in Humanities, 38, 2005. Norman Baker, Government and Contractors: The British Treasury and War Supplies, 1775-1783. London, The Athlone Press, 1971. (ISBN 0 485 131307). An 8-page PDF available online, Bradley J. Borougerdi, ´Crossing Conventional Borders: Introducing the Legacy of Hemp into the Atlantic World´, Traversea, Vol. 1, 2011. See also, James Broadbent, Suzanne Rickard and Margaret Steven, India, China, Australia: Trade and Society, 1788-1850. Sydney, Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, 2003. Bulley, Bombay Ships. Wikipedia pages various on sundry topics (go Google). Anne-Maree Cox Whitaker, Joseph Foveaux: Power and Patronage in Early NSW. University NSW Press, 2000 for details various.

Follows a listing of a few relevant books/articles that Jiggens with his adventurous theory might or might not have cited that he mostly did not, on The Botany Bay Debate:

Australian Encyclopedia. In 10 Vols. Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1958. Grolier Society of Australia, 1962.

G. J. Abbott, 'The Botany Bay decision’, Journal of Australian Studies, No. 16, May 1985., pp. 21-41.

Alan Atkinson, 'Jeremy Bentham and the Rum Rebellion', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 64, Part 1, June 1978., pp. 1-13.

Alan Atkinson, 'Beating the Bounds with Lord Sydney, Evan Nepean and others', Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 25, No. 99, October 1992., pp. 217-219.

Alan Atkinson, ‘State and Empire and Convict Transportation, 1718-1812’, pp. 31ff in Carl Bridge (Ed.), New Perspectives in Australian History. London, Sir Robert Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, 1990.

Alan Atkinson, 'The First Plans for Governing New South Wales, 1786-87', Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 24, No. 94, April 1990., pp. 22-40

Alan Atkinson, 'The Convict Republic', The Push From The Bush: A Bulletin of Social History, No. 18, October 1984., pp. 66-84.

Alan Atkinson, 'The British Whigs and the Rum Rebellion', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 66, Part. 2, September 1980., pp. 73-90.

Alan Atkinson, 'Whigs and Tories and Botany Bay', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 61, Part 5, March 1975., pp. 288-310.

Alan Atkinson, 'Botany Bay: A Counter Riposte', Australian Economic History Review, Vol. 17, 1977., pp. 78-82. [An Answer to Ged Martin and Alan Frost; in the same volume, Alan Frost, ‘Botany Bay: A Further Comment’, pp. 64-97.] See also, Ged Martin, ‘Economic motives behind the founding of Botany Bay’, Australian Economic History Review, Vol. 16, No. 2, September 1976., pp. 128-143.

Alan Atkinson, 'The little revolution in New South Wales, 1808’, International History Review, Vol. 12, No. 1, February 1990., pp. 65-75.

Alan Atkinson, The Europeans in Australia, Vol. 1: The Beginning. Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1997.

John Bach, A Maritime History of Australia. Melbourne, Nelson, 1976.

John Bach, (Ed.), An Historical Journal, 1787-1792, by John Hunter: An Historical Journal of the Transactions at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island. Sydney, Angus and Robertson in Association with the Royal Australian Historical Society, 1968.

Geoffrey Badger, The Explorers of the Pacific. Kenthurst, NSW, Kangaroo Press, 1988.

Norman Baker, Government and Contractors: The British Treasury and War Supplies, 1775-1783. London, The Athlone Press, 1971. (ISBN 0 485 13130 7)

Norman Baker, 'Changing attitudes towards government in eighteenth century Britain', in Anne Whiteman, J. S. Bromley and P. G. M. Dickson (Eds.), Statesmen, Scholars and Merchants: Essays in Eighteenth Century History presented to Dame Lucy Sutherland. Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1973.

Geoffrey Blainey, ’A Reply: “I came, I Shaw...”'’, pp. 131-134 in Ged Martin, (Ed.), The Founding of Australia: The Argument about Australia’s Origins. Sydney, Hale And Iremonger, 1978.

Geoffrey Blainey, ‘Botany Bay or Gotham City?’, pp. 105-114 in Ged Martin, (Ed.), The Founding of Australia: The Argument about Australia’s Origins. Sydney, Hale And Iremonger, 1978.

Geoffrey Blainey, The Tyranny of Distance: How Distance Shaped Australia’s History. Melbourne, Sun Books, 1966.

John Booker, ‘On Cox and Greenwood, army agents’, pp. 18-24 in Pamela Statham, (Ed.), A Colonial Regiment: New Sources Relating to the New South Wales Corps, 1789-1810. Canberra, Australian National University, 1992.

G. C. Bolton, 'William Eden and the Convicts, 1771-1787', Australian Journal of Politics and History, Vol. 26, 1980., pp. 3-44.

G. C. Bolton, ‘Broken reeds And smoking flax’, pp. 115-121 in Ged Martin, (Ed.), The Founding of Australia: The Argument about Australia’s Origins. Sydney, Hale And Iremonger, 1978.

G. C. Bolton, ’The Hollow Conqueror: flax and the foundation of Australia’, pp. 91-104 in Ged Martin, (Ed.), The Founding of Australia: The Argument about Australia’s Origins. Sydney, Hale And Iremonger, 1978.

E. W. Bovill, 'Some Chronicles of the Larkins family: the convict ship, 1792’, The Mariner’s Mirror, Vol. 40, No. 2, 1954., pp. 120-121.

Dan Byrnes, The Blackheath Connection (website book).

Dan Byrnes, 'From Glasgow to Jamaica to London and Australia: the elusive Duncan Campbell (1726-1803)’, Cruachan, (Journal of Clan Campbell Society of Australia), No. 62, December 1993., pp 11-16.

Dan Byrnes, '"Emptying The Hulks": Duncan Campbell and the First Three Fleets to Australia’, The Push From The Bush: A Bulletin of Social History, No. 24, April, 1987., pp. 2-23.

Dan Byrnes, 'Outlooks for the English South Whale Fishery, 1782-1800, and the "great Botany Bay debate"', The Great Circle, Vol. 10, No. 2, October 1988., pp. 79-102.

Dan Byrnes, 'The Blackheath Connection: London Local History and the Settlement at New South Wales, 1786-1806', The Push, A Journal of Early Australian Social History, No. 28, 1990., pp. 50-98.

Dan Byrnes, ‘Commentary’, to Wilfrid Oldham, Britain’s Convicts to the Colonies. Sydney, Library of Australian History, 1990.

L. G. Churchward, 'Notes on American whaling activities in Australian waters, 1800-1850', Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 4, No. 13, 1949., pp. 59-63.

C. M. H. Clark, ‘The Choice of Botany Bay’, pp. 63-76 in Ged Martin, (Ed.), The Founding of Australia: The Argument about Australia’s Origins. Sydney, Hale And Iremonger, 1978.

Phillip M. Cowburn, 'The British naval officer and the Australian colonies: an aspect of nineteenth century colonial history', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 54, Part 1, March 1968., pp. 2-21.

W. J. Dakin, Whalemen Adventurers in Southern Waters. Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1977. [Angus and Robertson Non-Fiction Classics Edition]

K. M. Dallas, ‘The first settlements in Australia: considered in relation to sea-power in world politics’, pp. 39-49 in Ged Martin, (Ed.), The Founding of Australia: The Argument about Australia’s Origins. Sydney, Hale and Iremonger, 1978.

K. M. Dallas, Trading Posts or Penal Colonies: The Commercial Significance of Cook’s New Holland Route to the Pacific. Hobart, Fuller’s Bookshop, 1969.

Brian H. Fletcher, (Ed.), David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, with Remarks on the Dispositions, Customs, Manners, etc., of the Native Inhabitants of that country. (Two Vols.) Orig. 1798. Sydney, A. H. and A. W. Reed, with the Royal Australian Historical Society, 1975.

John P. Fogarty, 'The New South Wales Pastoral Industry in the 1820s’, Australian Economic History Review, Vol. 8, No. 2, September 1968., pp. 110-122.

John P. Fogarty, 'The staple approach and the role of government in Australian economic development: the wheat industry’, Business Archives and History, Vol. 6, No. 1, February 1966., pp. 34-52.

*Colin Foster, France and Botany Bay: The Lure of a Penal Colony. Notknown.

Alan Frost, ‘Science for Political Purposes: European Explorations of the Pacific Ocean, 1764-1806’, pp. 27-44 in Roy McLeod and Philip F. Rehbock, (Eds.), Nature In Its Greatest Extent: Western Science in the Pacific. University of Hawaii Press, 1988.

Alan Frost, 'The Colonisation of New South Wales', pp. 85-93 in John Hardy and Alan Frost, (Eds.), European Voyaging Towards Australia. Canberra, Australian Academy of the Humanities, Occasional Paper No. 9, 1990.

Alan Frost, 'New South Wales as terra nullius: The British denial of Aboriginal land rights’, Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 19, No. 77, October 1981., pp. 513-523.

Alan Frost, 'Botany Bay: An Imperial Venture of the 1780s', English Historical Review, Vol. C, 1985., pp. 309-330.

Alan Frost, Convicts and Empire: A Naval Question, 1776-1811. Oxford University Press, 1980.

Alan Frost, 'The choice of Botany Bay: the scheme to supply the East Indies with naval stores', in Ged Martin, (Ed.), The Founding of Australia: The Argument about Australia’s Origins. Sydney, Hale And Iremonger, 1978., pp. 210-228. (Also in Australian Economic History Review, Vol. 15, No. 1, March 1975., pp. 1-20.)

Alan Frost, ‘Documentary: the East India Company and the choice of Botany Bay’, pp. 229-235 in Ged Martin, (Ed.), The Founding of Australia: The Argument about Australia’s Origins. Sydney, Hale And Iremonger, 1978.

Alan Frost, ‘Botany Bay: A Further Comment’, Australian Economic History Review, Vol. 17, 1977., pp. 64-97. [A reply to Alan Atkinson in the same volume, ‘Botany Bay: A Counter Riposte’, Australian Economic History Review, Vol. 17, 1977., pp. 78-82.] See also, Ged Martin, ‘Economic motives behind the founding of Botany Bay’, Australian Economic History Review, Vol. 16, No. 2, September 1976., pp. 128-143.

Alan Frost, ‘Botany Bay: a further comment’, pp. 252-264 in Ged Martin, (Ed.), The Founding of Australia: The Argument about Australia’s Origins. Sydney, Hale And Iremonger, 1978.

Alan Frost, Arthur Philip, 1738-1814: His Voyaging. Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1987.

Alan Frost, Botany Bay Mirages: Illusions of Australia’s Convict Beginnings. Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1994.

Alan Frost, The Precarious Life of James Mario Matra: Voyager with Cook, American Loyalist: Servant of Empire. Melbourne, The Miegunyah Press/Melbourne University Press, 1995.

Alan Frost, Botany Bay: The Real Story. Collingwood, Melbourne, Black Inc., 2011. And forthcoming, Alan Frost, The First Fleet: The Real Story. Collingwood, Melbourne, Black Inc., 2011.

Alan Frost, Dreams of a Pacific Empire: Sir George Young's Proposal for a Colonization of NSW, 1784-85. Sydney, Resolution Press, 1980.

Alan Frost, 'Historians, handling documents, transgressions and transportable offences', Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 25, Nos. 98-101, April 1992-October 1993., pp. 192-213.

Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet. With appendices by Yvonne Browning, Michael Flynn, Mollie Gillen. Sydney, Library of Australian History, 1989.

Mollie Gillen, ‘His Majesty's Mercy: The Circumstances of the First Fleet’, The Push, No. 29, 1991., pp. 47ff.

Ronald Hyam, 'British Imperial Expansion in the Late Eighteenth Century', The Historical Journal, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1967., pp. 113-131; a review of The Founding of the Second British Empire, 1763-1793, by Vincent Harlow. Vols. 1 and 2.

A. G. E. Jones, Ships employed in the South Seas Trade, 1775-1861 [Parts 1 and 2]: plus A Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen, transcripts of Registers of Shipping, 1787-1862 [Part 3] Canberra, Roebuck, 1986.

Eric Jones and Geoffrey Raby, 'The Fatal Shortage: establishing a European economy in New South Wales, 1788-1805', pp. 153-167 in John Hardy and Alan Frost, (Eds.), Studies from Terra Australis to Australia. Canberra, Australian Academy of the Humanities, Occasional Paper No. 6, 1989.

Robert J. King, '"Ports of shelter and refreshment...": Botany Bay and Norfolk Island in British naval strategy, 1786-1808’, Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 22, 1986., pp. 199-213.

Roger J. B. Knight, 'The First Fleet, its state and preparation, 1786-1787', pp. 121-136 in John Hardy and Alan Frost, (Eds.), Studies from Terra Australis to Australia. Canberra, Australian Academy of the Humanities, Occasional Paper No. 6, 1988.

Roger J. B. Knight, 'Displaying records and artefacts: the problem of the First Fleet', pp. 163-167 in John Hardy and Alan Frost (Eds.), European Voyaging Towards Australia. Canberra, Australian Academy of the Humanities, Occasional Paper No. 8, 1990.

Tom Keneally, The Commonwealth of Thieves: The Sydney Experiment. Sydney, Random House, Australia, 2005.

Robert McNab, (Ed.), Historical Records of New Zealand. (1914) [Sections taken from the Journal of Archibald Menzies].

George Mackaness, Admiral A. Phillip. Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1937.

David L. Mackay, A Place of Exile: The European Settlement of New South Wales. Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1985.

David Mackay, In the Wake of Cook: Exploration, Science and Empire, 1780-1801. Wellington, New Zealand, Victoria University Press, 1985.

David L. Mackay, 'In the shadow of Cook: the ambition of Matthew Flinders', pp. 99-111 in John Hardy and Alan Frost, (Eds.), European Voyaging Towards Australia. Canberra, Australian Academy of the Humanities, Occasional Paper No. 8, 1990.

David Mackay, 'Banished to Botany Bay: the fate of the relentless historian', a response', pp. 214-216, to Alan Frost, 'Historians, handling documents, transgressions and transportable offences', Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 25, April 1992-October 1993., pp. 192-213.

Phyllis Mander-Jones, (Ed.), Manuscripts in the British Isles Relating to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. Canberra, Australian National University, 1972.

Ged Martin, ‘Economic motives behind the founding of Botany Bay’, Australian Economic History Review, Vol. 16, No. 2, September 1976., pp. 128-143.

Eris O'Brien, The Foundation of Australia 1786-1800: A Study in English Criminal Practice and Penal Colonization in the Eighteenth Century. (Second edition). Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1950.

Wilfrid Oldham, Britain’s Convicts to the Colonies. Sydney, Library of Australian History, 1990. [This title is a slightly modified version of Wilfrid Oldham, The Administration of the System of Transportation of British Convicts, 1763-1793. Ph.D thesis. London University. 1933]

Arthur Phillip, The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay, With an Account of the Establishment of the Colonies of Port Jackson and Norfolk Island, including the journals of Lts. Shortland, Watts, Ball and Capt. Marshall. Melbourne, Facsimile edition for Georgian House, 1950.

Michael Roe, 'Australia's place in the "swing to the East", 1788-1810', Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 8, 1958., pp. 202-213.

Margaret Steven, Trade, Tactics and Territory: Britain in the Pacific, 1783-1823. Carlton, Victoria, Melbourne University Press, 1983.

R. A. Swan, To Botany Bay - If Policy Warrants The Measure - A Re-appraisal. Canberra, Roebuck Society. 1973.

J. M. Ward, British Policy In The South Pacific, 1786-1893. Australian Publishing Company. Sydney. 1948. Cited in DL Mackay.


^ Jiggens, Hemp, p. 234. Today, as we can find from a website, www.tasmaniantimes.com, hemp can be used for paper products, textiles, moulded plastics, body-care products, building-construction, livestock feed, livestock bedding, nutritional supplements, essential oils, medicines and good. All well and good.

^ See Jiggens, Hemp, The search for a hemp colony, pp. 25-38.

^ Jiggens, Hemp, pp. 10-11. They are Sir Joseph Banks´ file, Hemp 1764-1810. An India Office file Hemp and Flax, 1790-1805. Jiggens here does remind us of the existence of the more well-known Heads of a Plan, which was a document circulated with papers produced around mid-1786 and has long been regarded as part of officialdom´s plans to transport convicts to Botany Bay.

^ All this is pointed out in the website book, The Blackheath Connection by Dan Byrnes, which was finished as text in early 2000. This website book has been freely available on the Internet since mid-2000. As a personal note by 2012, being aware of new research being conducted by Gary Sturgess on the London-based merchants named in this review, it seems that I will have to resharpen my approach to the relevant maritime history. New research by Sturgess will greatly deepen and widen detailed knowledge of merchant involvements. Interest in the hemp trade will not tend to be conspicuous. Jiggens himself says (p. 160) that today, historians have become unfamiliar with The Age of Sail. He is correct here and he is part of the problems caused by this.

^ As noted in Jiggens, Hemp, pp. 175-184). Though it is unclear, it appears that the George Sinclair mentioned by Jiggens was an EICo botanist (first employed in England) sent by the company to join botanist William Roxburgh at Calcutta to assist Roxburgh´s work with Banks re experiments with growing hemp in India. This Sinclair was still alive in 1799 but Jiggens (p. 175) does mention his death, undated. A UK website does note that a George Sinclair wrote to Henry Dundas (Lord Melville) in 1796. A UK national archives webpage notes a George Sinclair writing to Dundas 7 April 1798 re concessions to enable him (Sinclair) to cultivate Hemp and Flax in India, a matter on which Lord Liverpool had an opinion. This same George Sinclair wrote to Sir John Sinclair at Calcutta 6 January 1799, re a Proposal to supply Government with Indian Hemp. W. Fawkener wrote to W. Huskisson, 2 May 1799, re Committee of Privy Council for Trade approval of the culture of Indian Hemp. Jiggens might at least have told us there are two English botanists named George Sinclair, and not to confuse them.

^ Archibald Bell Snr. as a hemp grower is noted in remarks, very badly proofread, on what Commissioner J. T. Bigge was told about hemp cultivation in NSW by 1820. At website: bendigolive.com/australia/tmc/bigge.htm. By 1820, it had been suggested to Commissioner Bigge that hemp work would suit otherwise unoccupied female convicts and old lame male convicts. Hardly, at the time, reasons to seek for establishing a thriving industry on which any part of a large navy could rely!

^ The Irish Linen Board was perhaps an odd fish organisationally. It was The Trustees of the Linen and Hempen Manufactures of Ireland, which had no permanent chairman or executive. In 1777 the position of secretary was given to James Corry Snr. of Dublin, his patron being John Foster. Corry was succeeded by his son James Corry Jnr. who had the job till 1828 and was regarded as an honest operator. The Board was abolished in 1828. Cf., C. Gill, The Rise of the Irish Linen Industry. 1925. By 1991 in Ireland a Mr H. D. Gribben was researching for a new book on the Irish Linen Board. GEC, Peerage, Ferrard of Beaulieu, p. 304; Oriel of Ferrard, p. 91. Burke's Peerage and Baronetage for Dufferin. See http www.berthouse.net/history.html. Foster´s own wikipedia page. Foster´s own page on the UK parliamentary website. Foster had a long and useful career and if he had a failing it was overmuch liking for a magnificent style of living.

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