D'Ewes, John
d. 1862
John D'Ewes was acting postmaster for the colony of Vancouver Island from December 1859 to September 1861.1 In the mid-1850s, he served in Australia as Police Magistrate in the Gold Fields at Ballarat, as well as Commissioner of Crown Lands and Deputy Sheriff in Victoria, but was forced from his positions after facing allegations of misconduct. While living in England in 1858, D'Ewes planned to emigrate to British Columbia, and was able to secure a letter of reference from Edward Bulwer Lytton, Secretary of State for the Colonies, based on the representation of various Gentlemen who vouched for his respectability of character. Shortly after providing the letter, Lytton learned of D'Ewes's past and wrote to warn colonial governor James Douglas, but misspelled D'Ewes as Dewes.2 When Douglas chose to appoint an acting postmaster in Victoria, he did not recall Lytton's warning and, on the strength of Lytton's original reference, as well as other letters and testimonials bearing evidence to his abilities, literary attainments, and to the position which he held in Society, gave D'Ewes the position. D'Ewes seemed to perform well, and, according to Douglas, maintained his reputation with the public for being attentive, energetic, and most obliging in carrying out the functions of his not very enviable office.3 In September 1861, D'Ewes left Vancouver Island for a shooting excursion to the Columbia River but, rather than return to the colony, continued on to England. His disgraced family followed shortly after.4 It wasn't long before it was discovered that, in addition to abandoning his wife, children, position, and unpaid debt, D'Ewes had embezzled an estimated £1000 from the post office.5 In early December 1861, perhaps hoping he could collect some additional salary before the news from Vancouver Island caught up with him, D'Ewes called at the Colonial Office in London and told staff that he intended to return to the Colony by the next opportunity.6 Then he disappeared. In April 1862, Victoria's Daily British Colonist newspaper reported that D'Ewes had committed suicide by blowing out his brains, at Homburg, a watering place in Germany.7
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