John Cock Belton, one of the Free Passage Emigrants, was definitely not pleased with some aspects of the voyage.
In a very outspoken, and now unfortunately incomplete letter, written possibly soon after the Rajasthan's arrival here, he leaves no doubts as to his thoughts on some events during the voyage nor of his feelings for Captain Ritchie.
Having become aware of the great lofs sustained by yourself and firm I have thought it to be my bounden duty to lay before you the following statement.
A short time after our leaving Plymouth it was publicly noticed the immence plunder that was going on in the Hold and altho' every means were used to detect the offenders but to no purpose.
One or two instances I will mearly mention to shew the Seamen's manner of conduct: One day there was a Ham given out for the Cabin dinner, it was put down by the Cook at the Galley Door, he had hardly turned himself before he missed the Ham, myself and Doctor Wilson immediately made serch but to no purpose.
The other instance was about 3 or 4 weeks before the Ship arrived at Holdfast Bay a Tub of Butter was drawn from the Hold of the Vefsel but in consequence of its being late in the day it was thought better not to ifsue it to the Mefses until the next morning it was therefore placed as it was supposed in safety in the Emigrants part of the Deck, but when sent for the next morning it was not to be found, the Police officers were immediately applied to and the whole of the Vefsel searched but again to no purpose, since coming on Shore I have afsertained that it was concealed in the Fore top by the Seamen until the heat of the search was over it was then divided amongst them in fact I could mention innumeral instances of Soups, Lump Sugar, Raisins, Porter, Ale, Wine & spirits some of which were nightly plundered; but however a short time before we came to an anchorit was discovered that there had been a pafsage from the Forecastle where the Crew slept entirely thro'the Hold of the Ship, it was ordered to be boarded up but was immediately broken open; after the Ship arrived in harbour the plunder was worse if pofsible, for the truth of this I can appeal to Doctor W. or Cap. 0'Hallaran.
I have also to lay before you the conduct of Capn. Ritchie and I hope Sir, you will not spare him in the 1st Instance he has carried away a quantity of Stores belonging to Mefsrs Waddele & Beck to the best of my knowledge consisting of the following Articles viz. 4 or 5 Casks of Beef 3 Bags of Bread 1 of Coffee 1 of Cocoa 2 Bags of Sugar 2 Basketts Raisins 1 or 2 Casks of Suet and a large quantity of Peas. of the Cuddy Articles scarcity any were forthcoming.
But the worst of his conduct was after obtaining the following Sums, he left without even attempting to repay them back.
The 1st was £5 for which I hold his receipt,
the 2nd £1.10 no receipt and which was to let 3 Seamen have who were going on liberty to Adelaide,
the 3rd £4 lent him by Mr. Wright out of money left in his hands, but which Mr. W is willing to vouch he had lent him for me.
the 4th £5.10 to pay some nine hands their advance
the 5th and last was £3.10 for expenses paid for pursuing after Mrs. Paul, from the above sums there is to be deducted £6.10 for a Chest of Draws sold by Capn. R. for Mr. Paul making the above deduction will leave Cap. R. just £13.- in arrears and I consider he has acted any part but that of a Gentleman.
A second letter by John Cock Belton was published |
in the second half of 1839:
John Cock Belton joined the Department in April 1839 at the invitation of Mr. Stuart.
He was promoted to "Serjiant" the next month and appointed "Quarter Master Serjiant" in July.
[This information comes from a letter written by John Belton in 1839
and also in part from the 1840 Royal South Australian Almanack.]