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  • Title
    Collection 21: William Waterhouse - Letters written by Henry Waterhouse to his father, 1788-1801; and other papers, 1782-1803
  • Call number
    Safe 1/187
  • Level of description
  • Date

  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Issue Copy

    William Waterhouse was a page to the Duke of Cumberland. He married Susanna Brewer. They had twelve children including Henry, one of whose godparents was the Duke of Cumberland, and Elizabeth, who married George Bass. William Waterhouse corresponded with Henry, Elizabeth and George Bass. Henry Waterhouse wrote long informative letters to his father which now form an important record of early events in New South Wales and Norfolk Island.
  • Scope and Content
    1782; Letter received from James Luttrell. Autograph letter signed by James Luttrell, Mediator, Portsmouth, 1 May 1782, accepting his son Henry Waterhouse as an able seaman.

    1788-1801; Letters received from his son Henry Waterhouse. Eleven autograph letters signed by Henry Waterhouse, including five letters from Sydney Cove and two from Table Bay, Cape of Good Hope.
    In his long letter from Sydney Cove, 11 July 1788, Waterhouse gives a detailed account of the arrival of the First Fleet in Botany Bay and the establishment of the settlement in Sydney Cove, reports Henry Lidgbird Ball's discovery of Lord Howe Island, describes Sydney's Aboriginal inhabitants and the colony's plants and animals, recounts his meeting with the French expedition led by the Comte de La Perouse and retells their story of their encounters with the natives of the Navigators' Islands [Samoa].
    Waterhouse's letter of 20 Feb 1789 includes detailed descriptions of the flora and fauna of Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island, and an account of Sydney and its Aboriginal inhabitants.
    In subsequent letters Waterhouse comments on William and Elizabeth Paterson (14 May 1796, Mar 1797, 20 Aug 1797), and mentions Matthew Flinders (24 Oct 1795), Benelong [Bennelong] (24 Oct 1795), John Hunter (23 Dec 1793, Mar 1797), Lord Sydney (24 Oct 1795, 14 May 1796), Arthur Phillip (24 Oct 1795, 14 May 1796, 10 July 1801), and Governor King's health (21 Dec 1795). Waterhouse also writes about his hopes for his naval career (23 Dec 1793, 24 Oct 1795, 10 July 1801) and about his farm and stock in New South Wales (Mar 1797, 20 Aug 1797). In most of his letters from 1794 onwards Waterhouse mentions his daughter Maria. Waterhouse wrote two very brief letters to his father immediately before and after his participation in the naval victory of the Glorious First of June 1794. A letter from Waterhouse to his father appears on the verso of the letter from George Bass to William Waterhouse, 8 Oct 1800.

    1800-1803; Correspondence with George Bass. Eight autograph letters signed by George Bass from Portsea, Venus at Cape of Good Hope, Port Jackson (2), Matavai Bay, Otaheite [Tahiti], off Morokai, Sandwich Islands [Molokai, Hawaiian Islands], Sydney Cove; three autograph letters to Bass signed by William Waterhouse from London and Margate, an autograph draft by Waterhouse, and a letter by Waterhouse to his daughter Elizabeth written on a sheet of the letter received from Bass, 5 Jan 1803.
    In his letter of 8 Oct 1800, Bass announces that he has married Elizabeth, Waterhouse's daughter. In a letter to William Waterhouse on the verso of this sheet, Henry Waterhouse informs his father that he 'this day gave irrevocably away your daughter'. In subsequent letters Bass acknowledges Waterhouse's substantial financial interest in the brig Venus (8 Jan 1801) and sends him detailed accounts of his plans and activities. He writes of his passage (through Bass Strait) to Port Jackson where he found the market glutted with trade goods and the acceptance by himself and Charles Bishop of a contract from Governor King to procure salted pork from the Pacific Islands (4 Oct 1801).
    Bass' letter of 30 Jan 1802 tells of his journey to Dusky Bay, New Zealand, to cut timber for pork chests and then to Tahiti to purchase hogs. He describes his dealings with Pomare I, and comments on the abundance of food in Tahiti and the supposed attractions of Tahitian women. The pork enterprise is further described in his letter of 20 May 1802.
    In his two detailed letters from Sydney, Bass enlarges on his many plans. In his letter of 5 Jan 1803 he writes that he intends to go to South America on a commission from Governor King to purchase cattle, as well as guanacos and 'pacos' [alpacas], thence to Tahiti to recover and repair a stranded brig [Norfolk] for use in the pork trade. In three lines of imperfect Spanish Bass writes that he goes to South America prepared for 'secret commerce'. He plans to go to Dusky Bay to salvage two anchors and iron fittings from Endeavour, an old Indiaman. He plans to sell the anchors, sealskins and possibly the Brig Venus to the Spanish in South America. Bass also comments on James Williamson and on Charles Bishop's ill health. One sheet of the letter contains a short letter from William Waterhouse to Elizabeth Bass, 8 Dec 1803, cautioning her not to mention 'what Mr Bass has said to me in Spanish'.
    In his letter of 2 Feb 1803 Bass describes his plans to go to Dusky Bay and then in search of seals and fish in the south of New Zealand where he means to secure exclusive rights to establish a fishery. He then intends to go to South America with a 'diplomatic looking certificate' from Governor King and hints that he has further business in South America.
    Waterhouse's letters to Bass discuss Waterhouse's shares in the Venus (19 Aug 1801), Henry Waterhouse's unemployment (19 Aug 1801, 17 Oct 1803) and Elizabeth Bass' unhappiness at Bass' absence. He mentions Thomas Jamison, James Williamson, William Kent (19 Aug 1801, 10 Dec 1801) and Major George Johnston (10 Dec 1801), and advises Bass that his plans for South America are already known in London (17 Oct 1803).

    1802; Copy, in the hand of William Waterhouse, of a letter by George Bass to an unknown correspondent [possibly Henry Waterhouse], Venus off Morokoi, Sandwich Islands [Molokai, Hawaiian Islands], 20 May 1802. Bass recounts his visit to Dusky Bay, New Zealand, and to several islands in the Pacific including Vavaitoo [Raivavae], Otaheite [Tahiti], Woahoo [Oahu] and Attooi [Kauai]. He mentions the discoveries of William Broughton and that he has painted a portrait of a Hawaiian woman. Some of the text of this letter is repeated in Bass' letter to his mother, 20 May 1802.

    1801-1803; Correspondence with his daughter Elizabeth Bass. Two autograph letters signed by Elizabeth Bass from Portsea, 9 Jan 1801 (signed Elizabeth Waterhouse), and 13 Jan 1801; one autograph letter signed by William Waterhouse from London, 9 Dec 1803. Elizabeth Bass writes of her unhappiness at parting from Bass and the kindness of the Innes family and other friends. William Waterhouse sends news of Bass' financial affairs and advises her to make herself an 'agreeable companion' for Bass when he returns. Two further letters by William Waterhouse to Elizabeth Bass are included in the collection. A short letter dated 8 Dec 1803 is appended to a letter from George Bass to Waterhouse, 5 Jan 1803; a letter dated 14 Dec 1803 is appended to a letter from George Bass to Elizabeth Bass, 21 Dec 1802.
  • Finding Aids
  • General note

    Microfilm copy available at CY 3970, frames 1-125
    Digital order no:Album ID : 824068
  • Creator/Author/Artist
  • Name
  • Subject
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  • Exhibited in

    Politics & Power: Bligh's Sydney Rebellion 1808 - State Library of New South Wales (21 January - 27 April, 2008)
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