1833 - VDL Company Encroachment

The following article from The Hobart Town Courier on Friday 20 September 1833 demonstrates that some individuals held concerns about the power of the Van Diemen's Land Company. There were trials in 1832 and 1833 that caused public concern when the company was seen to have given some servants false expectations about the conditions of the their employment, or indenture. The same message is reported by the author in this instance.

THE VAN DIEMENS LAND COMPANY, and its progressive schemes of encroachment on the colony and on the privileges of human kind.

A pamphlet has recently appeared in London, entitled "Proposals for the encouragement of emigrants as tenants to the Van Diemen's Land Company." It discloses in a more unblushing manner than we had expected at this statue of its advancement, the growing schemes of encroachment of this great establishment, which we have all along predicted, and warned both the government and the colonists to beware of. But the truth is that this company from the extensive moneyed and parliamentary interest of its proprietors has so easily carried its purposes and obtained its demands, however unreasonable, by its weight of influence with the home administration, that its agents have at last become so self confident and daring as to propound a scheme which in the grossness of its deception throws into the shade all the worst features of forced emigration that have yet appeared, eclipsing even, the most disgraceful of all, that of the poor deluded pensioners. The plan is already, we hear, in full operation, and from the great influence of the gentlemen connected with the company, will of course be carried up to some extent, before the re-echo and recoil of discomfiture from this colony make the unconscious partners who have only lent their name and purse to its proceedings, shudder at these cruelly deceptive and illiberal proposals. For we cannot forget that this establishment was originally formed for ostensibly the most benevolent purpose?, by a majority of men of exemplary philanthrophy, among whom was our late esteemed Lieutenant-Governor Colonel Sorell. But it was impossible from the very nature of the institution that it should attain the laudable ends which the original projectors had nearest their hearts - that the undertaking could be profitable either to the proprietors or to the colony of which it was to form an advantageous part - for this plain reason, that an interest was erected & set up between these two vital ones in that of the paid agents of the company, to whose superintendence the whole concern was entrusted, and who (even looking abstractedly at human nature in the mass) would as a matter of course consult their own interest and enrich themselves, though not perhaps openly to the prejudice, yet certainly with but little comparative anxiety for the permanent and sterling welfare of either the company or the colony.

After stating that their intending tenants can transport themselves to their scene of banishment for a sum varying from 1 6l. to 2 5l.,and holding out (most falsely holding out) that the East Indies afford a ready market for all kinds of produce that the deluded emigrant may raise, the publication goes on to blazen forth its flattering allurements in the following terms:

The company's grants consist of -

180,000 acres on the north-west coast, including three islands off the coast, in climate and soil resembling the west of England, as laid down in the map.

170,000 acres in the interior of the island, in climate and soil resembling the northern counties of England and the southern counties of Scotland, as laid down in the map.

Farmers of industrious habits, possessing a clear capital of even 100.l. might settle there in comfort, and see their families advancing in the world, whilst there is great encouragement for those who can command a larger amount of money. The artisans who would meet with employment at good and steady wages are, - ploughmen, farm labourers, blacksmiths, carpenters, wheelwrights, bricklayers, masons, coopers, sawyers, shoe-maker,boat-builders, shipwrights, brick-makers, millers, tanners, brewers, maltsters, horse breakers, saddlers, tailors.

If emigrants go out with capital intending either to purchase land or to become tenants, they will have the advantage of arriving in a country which has been surveyed, and is well known throughout.

This statement is accompanied with a map pointing out the extreme partiality that has been shewn the company beyond or rather we may say to the prejudice of the legitimate settler in the selection of land in the colony. At Cape Grim, on the north west corner of the island, comprising the beautiful estate of Woolnorth, the company has 150,000 acres, from which stretching along the coast in a straight line towards the east are 20,000 acres, in the interior at what is called the Hampshire Hills in one continuous track are 10,000, at the adjunct of Middlesex plains are 10,000, at the Surry hills contiguous, 130,000, and according to the surveyor's own account, 10,000 acres of good land on the three adjacent islands, Trefoil, Walker's and Robbin's, exclusive of the waste land which appears to be granted to the company. Then follows a most inviting and highly coloured description of these several tracks in order to entice the deluded tenants to desert their home and come out to them.

There is more to be added here from the article.