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5 posts categorized "Australasia"

13 June 2017

Cow Protection in India

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On 9 December 1911, The Graphic magazine had a short piece with the surprising title ‘How Cattle Threaten the Unity of the Empire’. This stated that at a time when the King’s cattle had been winning prizes in Britain, his Hindu subjects in India were petitioning to stop the slaughter of cattle for the British Army and permit the introduction of beef from Australia. It reported that a picture was being circulated with the petition showing how useful cattle were to other industries if they were not slaughtered.

The Graphic  9 December 1911

The Graphic 9 December 1911

Cow protection was a serious issue in India. The cow was an important Hindu symbol of maternity and fertility. For those fearful that colonial policies were endangering traditional Hindu practices, and others who were struggling with increased competition for education, jobs and scarce resources, the cow represented a comforting and benign figure, a guard against evil, and an illustration of good Hindu behaviour. As such cow protection was a unifying issue for Hindus of all walks of life.

The proposal referred to in The Graphic of importing Australian beef for British troops in place of beef killed in India seems to have been devised by Khursedji Sorabji Jassawalla, a member of a well-known Parsi family from Bombay. A colourful figure, Jassawalla had been associated with the anti-cow killing movement since 1885. In October 1911, he travelled to London with the intention of presenting to the King a petition and two million signatures he claimed to have collected. While residing in Hampstead, he wrote a note outlining his scheme to provide Australian mutton to the British Army even at a loss to himself if the slaughter of Indian cattle would be stopped. Unsuccessful in his attempts to gain a Royal audience, he sent his petition to the Government of India and the India Office.

Jassawalla Petition (top)

Jassawalla Petition (bottom)

IOR/L/PJ/6/1123, File 4428 Noc

The Government of India was rather unimpressed with Mr Jassawalla’s scheme, as this comment in his criminal intelligence history sheet notes: “The whole proposal is a commercial one, and from that point of view his past career does not inspire confidence”.

This was not the only petition on cow protection the India Office received that year. On 9 November 1911, a petition was received from Sir Bhalchandra Krishna, a resident of Bombay, protesting against the slaughter of cows in the city and district of Muttra and Varaj in the United Provinces. With his petition were submitted over 100 pages of signatures. The Government declined to make any alterations to the arrangements for the slaughter of Indian cattle.

Bhalchandra Krishna Petition

Bhalchandra Krishna Petition signatures

IOR/L/PJ/6/1125, File 4678 Noc

John O’Brien
India Office Records

 Further reading:
The Graphic, 9 December 1911, page 889 (in a file of newspaper cuttings on Persia in the Curzon Papers) [Reference Mss Eur F112/249]
Memorial to the King from Mr Jassawalla and others asking that British troops in India may be supplied with Australian meat in place of beef slaughtered in India, 1911-1913 [Reference IOR/L/PJ/6/1123, File 4428]
Memorial from Sir Balchandra Krishna and others protesting against the slaughter of cows in Muttra (UP), 1911 [Reference IOR/L/PJ/6/1125, File 4678]
 

06 October 2016

Throwing off the workhouse

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I was delighted to hear from the family of Robert Chivers, the ‘violent pauper’ who featured on Untold Lives in June. Robyn Bergin is a descendant of Robert’s son William in Australia. She wrote to tell me that the story didn’t end too badly for young William.

Chivers, William 1William Chivers aged 21 - photograph courtesy of his family


This is what Robyn told me.

William was placed in the Melbourne Orphan Asylum on Christmas Eve 1874 along with his two brothers Robert and Thomas. No-one knows for sure what happened to his mother Elizabeth or his sister Anne, although family members believe that Anne may have been sent back to England to relatives. William worked in the garden at the home and later on other people’s land. In 1892, he married Fanny Matilda Dunlop at her family home in Caulfield. It was during the Depression and, in order to save some money to marry, he had taken his swag and shot koalas in Gippsland.

In 1894, they had a son Norman. William then went to Western Australia to work in the Karri forest sawmills at Pemberton. He sent for Fanny and Norman, and they had another son Gordon whilst living there.

 Chivers, William 3William, Fanny and children in front of their house in Western Australia - photograph courtesy of his family


The family returned to Victoria and William leased a market garden with his brother-in-law. The property was St John's Wood, formerly owned by judge Sir Redmond Barry. Two more children were born: Elsie and Herbert. In 1907, William bought a property of his own on the top of the hill in Waverley Road, Glen Waverley. His diaries record this as the happiest and saddest day of his life: happy because he was now a man of property, and sad because, in order to get a loan, he had to admit to being an orphan. William lived there until he died in 1958. Two of his sons bought adjoining properties and they farmed together. Some of William's descendants still live in the district.

When he applied for a loan through The Australian Widows' Fund, they sought his birth certificate from the UK. William was wrongly identified as Alfred William Chivers - a different person born on a different day –– and from then on William believed his name to be Alfred William. (How sad is that?)

William liked to write to the newspapers from time to time. One of these letters was in response to a government policy that encouraged migration from England by not only providing free passage but also a land grant upon arrival. He wasn't eligible for this programme and suggested in his letter that he should stow away back to England and then take advantage of the scheme!

Chivers, William 2William Chivers in later life - photograph courtesy of his family

There is a street in Glen Waverley called Chivers Avenue. Robyn grew up there. As she says - that’s not a bad legacy for a child of the workhouse.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Many thanks to Robyn and her family for sharing William's story and providing the photographs for this post.

25 April 2016

The officer and the Anzac

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Today is Anzac Day. On 25 April 1915 Australian and New Zealand forces landed at Gallipoli. Many lives were lost in the eight-month campaign. Since 1916 a day of commemoration has been held on 25 April to recognise the sacrifices of Australian and New Zealand servicemen and servicewomen.

During the First World War my great aunt Annie Procter worked at the Australian High Commission in London. Some months ago we discovered her autograph book in the loft at my parents’ home.  One of the contributions was this cartoon drawn by K A Tunks on 20 June 1916.  An army officer is addressing an Anzac: ‘Why don’t you salute? Can’t you see I’m an Officer?’  The relaxed Anzac replies: ‘Gee! You’re lucky. I’m only a bally Private’.

ANZACThe Officer and the Anzac

 

Keith Aubrey Tunks was born in Parramatta, New South Wales.  He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 8 February 1915 at the age of 19.  In April 1915 Private Tunks left Australia for Gallipoli with the 1st Field Ambulance. He was wounded at Gallipoli and fell seriously ill with dysentery after the Lone Pine engagement. In August 1915 he was evacuated to England, contracting malaria on the way. On his discharge from a hospital in Wandsworth, he was sent to Monte Video Camp at Weymouth in Dorset. This camp was established for soldiers of the Commonwealth Military Forces who had been invalided to England from the Dardanelles with either sickness or wounds and who were almost fit for return to duty.  As he had been dangerously ill, Tunks was posted to the accounts section of the Australian Military Office at 130 Horseferry Road, London. This was how he crossed paths with Annie Procter, a 21-year-old Civil Service stenographer, and drew a picture in her autograph book.

  Annie Procter 358Annie Procter - family photograph

Tunks ended the war as a Lieutenant in the Australian Army Pay Corps. His eye-witness accounts of his experiences were published throughout the war in Parramatta’s local newspaper The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate. He arrived home in July 1920 to be met by the Parramatta Welcome Home Committee followed by a special reception at his sister’s house:
‘Lieut. Keith Tunks, of Parramatta, one of the last left in England, was the honored guest at a welcome home held on July 7 at the residence of his sister, Mrs. C. Woods, of May's Hill. The decorations were festive and specially the table, which was arranged artistically with the Lieut.'s staff colors. Toasts were given in honor of the King and the forces, and reference was made to the valuable services Lieut. Tunks had rendered to his country and the Empire both in the field and later in the more intricate establishment of the Australian Headquarters Staff, where work was always plentiful and fatiguing; and the least service we could render him was to welcome him heartily and sincerely’ (The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate,17 July 1920).

 

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records Cc-by


Further reading:
Discovering Anzacs – service record for Keith Aubrey Tunks
The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate via Trove
Fighting Australasia: a souvenir record of the imperishable story of the Australasian forces in the Great War
Europeana 1914-1918

 

17 January 2016

Antarctic Anniversaries: Captains James Cook and Robert Scott

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Today, 17 January, marks the anniversary of two major events in the history of Antarctic exploration. It was on this day that Captain James Cook (1728-1779), of His Majesty’s Ship Resolution, made the first recorded crossing of the Antarctic Circle in 1773 and, 139 years later, that the explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912), with his five man team, reached the South Pole in 1912. Though both Captains would ultimately lose their lives in the course of their explorations, they made a significant contribution to the exploration of Antarctica.

Robert_F__Scott_at_Polheim

Robert Scott and his men at Amundsen's base, Polheim. Photograph taken by Lawrence Oates. 18 January 1912. Image via Wikimedia Commons. Untitled

Within a year of returning from his first voyage (Aug. 1768-Jul. 1771), that observed the transit of Venus, Captain James Cook was again commissioned by the Royal Society to lead another scientific expedition in search of the Terra Australis: an enormous land mass that had long been presumed to exist in the southern most extremities of the Southern Hemisphere. On his first voyage, Cook had chartered almost the entire eastern coastline of Australia and had circumnavigated New Zealand, demonstrating that neither was part of a larger southern continental landmass which all authorities now believed was to be found even further south. Setting out in July 1772 Cook and his crew circumnavigated the globe travelling as far south as possible to determine whether there actually was a great southern continent.

Ultimately, Cook’s voyage did not succeed in its aim of discovering a great southern landmass nor did it reach Antarctica. But, just as importantly, by crossing the Antarctic Circle on 17 January 1773 the ship and its crew became the first in recorded history to cross the line and had travelled further south than anyone in the world. In the ship’s journal, now held by the British Library, Cook confirmed that: 

At about a quarter  past 11 o’clock we cross’d the Antarctic Circle, for at Noon we were by observation four miles and a half south of it and are undoubtedly the first and only ship that ever cross’d that line.

Cook Add Ms 27886 f55

Logbook of Lieut. James Cook (1770), The British Library, Add Ms 27885, f. 55. Untitled

Cook and his crew would cross the Antarctic Circle three times during this voyage, and on its third attempt on the 30 January made their most southerly penetration but were ultimately forced back due to the solid sea ice. In his journal Cook admitted:

I who had ambition not only to go farther than anyone had been before, but as far as it was possible for man to go, was not sorry in meeting with this interruption…

Following Cook’s voyage, the international fascination with Antarctica increased with several expeditions to reach and map Antarctica emerging in the 1820s, followed some 80 years later by explorers such as Scott and Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922), attempting to reach the South Pole.

Named the Terra Nova Expedition after the vessel which took them to the Antarctic, the first successful British expedition to the South Pole was that led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott and which reached the South Pole on this day, 17 January, 1912. Though the expedition aimed to fulfil a programme of scientific, zoological, geological, magnetic and meteorological studies it was principally motivated by a race to the Pole. However, when Scott’s expedition finally reached their target, to their dismay, they learnt that they had been beaten by Norwegian explorers led by Roald Amundsen (1872-1928). In Scott’s diary of 1912, now held at the British Library (and available online through ‘Turning the Pages’), the team’s disappointment at being beaten is palpable:

Wednesday, January 17 - Camp 69. THE POLE. Yes, but under very different circumstances from those expected. We have had a horrible day – add to our disappointment a head wind 4 to 5, with a temperature -22 degrees, and companions labouring on with cold feet and hands.

  Scott 1 The Pole

Captain Scott's diary (1912),  The British Library, Add Ms 51035, vol. 2, f. 36.Untitled

Having failed to be the first to reach the South Pole, Scott’s team turned back. Losing two team members on their way to base, the remaining explorers were ultimately halted on 20 March by a fierce blizzard just 11 miles from their depot.  Scott's last diary entry, dated 29 March 1912, the presumed date of his death, ended famously with the words:

…we shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity but I do not think I can write more. R. Scott. Last entry. For God's sake look after our people.

Scott 2 Death

Captain Scott's diary (1912), The British Library, Add Ms 51035, vol. 3, f. 39. Untitled

The British Library will be holding a major exhibition on the voyages of Captain James Cook in the summer of 2018.

Dr Alexander Lock, Curator of Modern Historical Manuscripts 1851-1950 @BL_magnacarta

#CaptainCook #Captain Cook #Antarctic

27 October 2015

Captain Cook – Endeavour and Resolution

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Captain James Cook was born in the village of Marton in the North Riding of Yorkshire on 27 October 1728. He began his career at sea working in the North Sea coal trade, but in 1755 he enlisted in the Royal Navy. During the Seven Years War he served as the Master on the Pembroke, discovering and developing his talent for surveying.

Cook Add MS 23920 f.2 Noc

Engraving of Captain James Cook, Add MS 23920 f.1r

The chart below was created by Cook in 1763. It shows the Islands of St Pierre and Miquelon just off the South Coast of Newfoundland.

   Cook Add MS 31360 f.21Noc
 Chart of the Islands of St Pierre and Miquelon, Add MS 31360 f.21

In 1767 Cook was appointed to command the Endeavour on a voyage commissioned by the Royal Society to observe the Transit of Venus from the island of Tahiti. On board were astronomer Charles Green and the wealthy naturalist Joseph Banks whose retinue included the artists Alexander Buchan and Sidney Parkinson (who both died on the voyage) and the naturalist Daniel Solander.

Sailing from Plymouth on 25 August 1768, Cook reached Tahiti on 13 April 1769. After successfully observing the Transit of Venus, Cook opened his secret instructions from the Admiralty which ordered him to search for the Great Southern Continent.  Having failed to find the continent Cook decided to investigate the land sighted by Abel Tasman in 1642, which Dutch cartographers had named New Zealand. The chart below was drawn by Cook and is accurate except for two mistakes: he charted Banks Peninsula as an island, and he charted Stewart Island as a Peninsula.

  Cook Add MS 7085 f.17Noc

Chart of New Zealand, Add MS 7085 f.17

Cook carried onto the Eastern Coast of Australia, the first sighting by Europeans. After carrying out a running survey of the East Coast, Cook returned to England. The voyage was received by the British public as a great success. However Cook had not given up on the idea of finding a Great Southern Continent and proposed a second voyage circumnavigating the globe from west to east as far south as possible.

Captain Cook sailed in the Resolution in company with Tobias Furneaux in the Adventure. Whilst attempting to locate the fabled Southern continent Cook and his officers accurately charted the islands in the Pacific they came across including Vanuatu as shown below. This chart is attributed to Midshipman John Elliott.

Cook Add MS 15500 f.17Noc

A plan of Vanuatu with 4 views, Add MS 15500 f.17

Cook was appointed to the Resolution again early in 1776 to locate the North West passage, accompanied by Captain Charles Clerke in the Discovery.  Having failed to discover the passage, Cook was forced to return to the Hawaiian Islands with a damaged ship. Relations with the local people were hostile and took a turn for the worse when the one of the Discovery’s cutters was stolen and Cook planned to take an Hawaiian Chief hostage. When he went ashore on 14 February 1779 he was met by a volatile crowd. In the ensuing altercation Cook and four of the marines were killed.

Cook Add MS 15513 f.29Noc

View at Waimea in the Hawaiian Islands by John Webber, Add MS 15513 f.29

The British Library holds a world renowned collection of the charts, artwork (ethnographic and landscapes) and logbooks from Cook's three voyages. We are pleased to announce that we are curating an exhibition based on these collections which will be held in summer 2018.

Laura Walker
Lead Curator Modern Archives & Manuscripts 1850-1950 Cc-by

Further reading:
More information on James Cook can be found at: Andrew C.F. David, 'James Cook', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
An account of the second voyage by John Elliott is held at the British Library Add MS 42714 ff.7-45.