Antill's journal

Antill’s account of his appointment and his journey to the colony are documented in his journal which he kept for the benefit of his sisters. Antill also kept a record of his experiences in 1815 when he, Governor and Mrs Macquarie and John Oxley crossed the Blue Mountains to visit ‘a tract of newly discovered land’.

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Transcription - Journal of a voyage to New South Wales 1809 [selections]

Page 7 (last paragraph)

At the season of the year we embarked from Scotland, the passage is very dangerous, and tho' our ships were

 

Page 8

very excellent ones, we were twice very nearly lost, the wind blowing mostly from the S.W. in strong gales with very cold weather, we changed our ships at Gravesend, and were removed to two transports, which, though larger vessels, were not such good sea boats as those we had quitted.
On our arrival at Gravesend we learnt with much satisfaction that the Government had thought proper to give us a Second Battalion which promoted me and two other brother subs to Companies, so the old proverb was verified in this instance " that evil seldom happens without some' good attending it," to add to my good fortune on my arrival at Portsmouth I received a letter from my commanding officer Colonel Macquarie stating that

 

Page 9

the Governor appointed to New South Wales had applied to very him to recommend an officer to be his Aide-De-Camp from any of those of the Regiment he thought capable of filling the situation, and that in consequence of this application he had mentioned me as one he thought would answer, that if I had no objection to the situation, I had his permission to come up to Town to pay my respects, and return thanks to General Nightingall for the honour he had done me.
In this instance I had once more to admire the good fortune, or more properly speaking the Kindness of Providence that had attended me through life; I was here without any merit of my own, taken by the hand and promoted

 

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to a situation every way to my wish, how thankful ought I to be, and indeed I am to those friends who had been so kind and attentive to my interests. I immediately wrote a suitable reply to the letter I had received, and prepared to proceed to London as soon as the regiment should be landed, which they were in a few days afterwards in the Isle of Wight, and arrived without any accident worth mentioning by nine o'clock the next morning in London.
 In the course of the day I called upon Colonel Macquarie and was by him taken and introduced to General Nightingall, who received me with much politeness, and was told by him that as

 

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his appointment to the Government of New South Wales had not yet taken place, mine of course would not either. I was however permitted at my own request to remain in town by leave from the Commander-in-Chief and I immediately took lodgings in Suffolk-street, Charing Cross.
From this time till the latter end of March I remained in town occasionally visiting my friends at Black Heath, where I always met with the kindest reception; of this my dear Mary you need not be told, as you so largely contributed to the happiness I there enjoyed, and I hope you and your amiable family will not refuse in this place the tribute of a grateful heart.  These visits I generally made

 

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on foot walking down to the Heath on the Sunday morning to breakfast, and returning to town on the Monday to attend to any little business the General might have for me to do. I made it my duty to call upon him every morning but except a few trifling commissions he gave me to execute I had nothing to do, as he had not yet received any further intimation from the Government respecting his appointment; this delay appeared strange as the ships had been reported some time back ready to receive the troops, but I afterwards understood that this delay was occasioned by the desire Government had of receiving accounts from the Colony which they were in daily expectation would arrive. During the interval General

Nightingall was attacked with so violent a Rheumatism that when the expected accounts did arrive and we were ordered to embark and proceed with all expedition, he found himself under the necessity of applying for a short delay, which as it could not be granted, he was obliged from the ill state of his health to decline the situation altogether as no person was immediately nominated to succeed him, I had every reason to suppose there was an end to all my bright prospects and that I should be obliged to put up with my loss I had incurred in making up staff uniform. I therefore with a heavy heart took leave of the General and the rest of my friends in Town and took my departure to join the Regiment but before I left London

 

Page 13

I was desired by the friend who had recommended me not to despair and was led to hope from these words that I might expect to regain the situation I had lost under General Nightingall under the person who should succeed him, little did I think that he would be that person himself. I of course the moment this was made known to him which was after I had returned to the Isle of Wight received notice of it with the fulfillment of the promise he had made but that it could not take place till our arrival at our destination, with this you may be sure I was well content, and again returned to town to make a few arrangements, where I remained a few days and then joined my regiment once more.

 

 [Antill and Macquarie left England on May 7th on board the Dromedary]

 

Page 60

Thursday, 28th Dec.—The wind shifted yesterday evening to all points of the compafs, blowing a hurricane, with very severe thunder and lightning and heavy rain. Stood off and on all night, sometimes very near the land. About 7 o'clock in the morning saw the flagstaff at the Head of Port Jackson: made signal for a pilot. Blowing a fresh gale and at 10 o'clock came to anchor within the Heads. The wind being against us could not work up the harbour.
Thus have I brought the Journal of our Voyage of seven months and six days from leaving the Land's End, and within a few days of a twelvemonth from leaving Scotland, to

 

Page 61

a conclusion. We remained at the Heads till the 30th, the wind being against. On the morning of the 30th it changed and we weighed and stood up the harbour, and soon after anchored in Sydney Cove. The Governor landed the next morning with all due ceremony, the Regiment being drawn up both on board and shore, and the Ship firing a salute. The next day the Regiment landed, and there not being room in Barrack for them they marched out to Grose Farm, about three miles from Town and encamped and remained there till the 102 Regiment embarked for England.
H.C.A.


 > Read the full text of Henry Colden Antill’s journals from 1809 and 1815 Link to catalogue