No. 67
25 October 1861
I regret that it should be my unpleasant duty to report to Your Grace that Mr John D'Ewes Acting Postmaster of Victoria, has absconded, leaving behind him debts to a considerable amount, and being a defaulter to theColonialManuscript image Colonial Government in the sum of between Three and Four Hundred Pounds.
2. The greater part of the Government money which he carried off with him, had been only advanced but a day or two previously, for him to pay an account due for the conveyance of the Mails between San Francisco and this place.
3. I have also to report that I have beenobligedManuscript image obliged to dismiss the Acting Harbor Master of the Port of Victoria, Mr Jeremiah Nagle, in consequence of discovering irregularities in his accounts, and that he had been in the habit of charging and appropriating to his own use fees for services rendered in his official capacity.
4. With a view to decrease the existingexpenditureManuscript image expenditure, I have combined the two offices of Post Master and Harbor Master in one, and I have appointed thereto Mr Henry Wootton, a gentleman who has been for some time serving as Clerk of the Writs in the Supreme Court. Mr Wootton is a certificated Master in the Mercantile Marine, and has earned forhimselfManuscript image himself a high character for integrity and ability since he has been in the Colony, and I believe will prove himself a very capable and trustworthy person in the position in which I have placed him. I have required him to give security for the faithful performance of his duties, himself in a bond for one thousandpoundsManuscript image pounds (£1000), and two Sureties in separate Bonds for Five Hundred pounds each.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke,
Your Grace's most obedient
and humble Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
Mr D'Ewes called here last week and said that he intended to return to the Colony by the next opportunity. The Govr does not state the Salary he assigns to the joint Offices of Post Master & Harbour Master.
VJ 10 Decr
Mr Jadis
Find out who he is & by whom recommended as we must see him.
See Separate Minute.
TFE 10/12
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 88, 23 February 1862.
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Elliot
Sepr 1858. Mr D'Ewes received from Edward Lytton a letter of introduction [to] the Governor of Van Couver Island, on production of satisfactory testimonials from Lord Willoughby de Broke, Mr Jas. [Deardon] [cut off microfilm] Rochdale and Mr William Tooke F.R.S. [His?] letter is dated 11 Sepr 1858.
Subsequently Sir E. Lytton's attention was called to certain occurrences which took place at Ballarat, Victoria, in the year 1854, when Mr D'Ewes name was erasedManuscript image from the Commission of the Peace, in consequence of misconduct as Police Magistrate. Sir E. Lytton communicated this information to Govr Douglas in a Despatch dated 29 Novr 1858.
The Governor did not notice this Despatch in any way—nor did he report the appointment of Mr D'Ewes to any office in the Colony—neither is there any report of leave of absence having been granted to him. His address is N 39 Bedford Row.
VJ 11 Decr
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This is a provoking kind of case—the Secretary of State recommended a certain man to the Governor. Within little more than two months, he discovered that this man was undeserving and of apparently suspicious character and immediately warned the Governor to that effect, and yet the Governor seems to have given him a place, which act has been followed, as Mr Douglas tells us, by a public defalcation as well as the defrauding of private persons by the creation of large unpaid debts.
Some months ago I happened accidentally to learn that Govr Douglas spoke as if the common letters of introduction from the Secretary of State created prior claims on him to which he must postpone the merits of any other candidates. This is precisely what the letters themselves direct him not to understand.
I think therefore that the present opportunity ought to be taken to conveytoManuscript image to him some suitable general explanation on the subject. As to this Mr D'Ewes himself, it may be a question whether he ought to be seen or called upon for explanation, but at all events no half salary ought on any account to be issued to him in this country.
TFE 11 Decr
The desp. might be sent to the Treasury, telling them that Mr D'Ewes is here, & asking whether any measures can be taken against him?
CF 13
Does it appear that the Confl Despatch of 29 Septr [November] /58 was received? It ought at least to have been acked.
N 14
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Mr Elliot
I learn that the appointment of Mr D'Ewes successor in the office of "acting" postmaster of Victoria has not been confirmed. And this circumstance leads me to observe upon some facts which indicate the Governors laxity of proceeding, and his carelessness in supplying the Secretary of State with complete information.
It isManuscript image
It is already known that the appointment of Mr D'Ewes was not reported to the Secretary of State, nor consequently the amount of his Salary. Having been obliged to report Mr D'Ewes' delinquency the Governor, at the same time, reported the substitution of a Mr Wootton—in whose person he has combined the office held by Mr D'Ewes, and also that held by Mr Nagle; viz—Acting Harbour Master of Victoria, the object of the consolidation being as he states to diminish the expenditure. This decision is possibly a right one, and the selection good for anything [known?] here: but the Governor does not, as he ought to do, give the Secretary of State the opportunity of rejecting the selectionManuscript image thought proper; for, from the terms of the despatch, the gentleman evidently is not appointed provisionally. His sureties have given [cut off microfilm] and he is safe in his place. Further the Governor does not mention the salary of the offices when held separately, nor how much it is in its present combined state. The emoluments are probably small, but that circumstance ought not the less to render it imperative on the Governor to furnish the Secretary of State with all the information in his power. It seems to me as if the Governor has told the Secretary of State as little as he can help. I submit therefore that when the Duke of Newcastle signifies his decision on the nomination of Mr Wootton, vice D'Ewes and Nagle, it should be pointed out toManuscript image the Governor that he has omitted to state the amount of salary assigned to the office, and further that he has committed an error in conferring more than a provisional appointment on Mr Wootton.
ABd 11/March/62
Mr Blackwood
A draft about this appointment has gone on in Circulation to-day, which conveys a reproof, and admonition for the future, to the effect you suggest. This may therefore, I think, be "Put by."
TFE 14 March
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We kept this despatch about Mr D'Ewes, 1st in order to see whether proceedings were possible (which it turned out that they were not) and afterwards to endeavour to trace him and see what he might have to say. The result is that we learn [of] the unhappy man's death at Homburg by suicide. The information has been communicated to the Messrs Tooke by the German Authorities.
[Minute in margin of draft reply:]
It has been stated to me that this is a mistake: that D'Ewes circulated the report as a blind.
I annex the draft of a despatch telling the Governor: and as it remains equally important to caution Governor Douglas against treating common letters of introduction as claims on his patronage, I submit in a separate draft the communication which was previouslysuggestedManuscript image suggested to be made to him on that subject.
There is no record to show whether or not he received Sir E. Lytton's second confidential despatch.
TFE 19 Feby
N 23
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 89, 24 February 1862, informing him that D'Ewes had committed suicide by shooting himself in Homburg, the German watering place in the neighbourhood of Frankfurt. A marginal note from Blackwood suggests that D'Ewes had faked his death, and circulated the report [of his suicide] as a blind.