Marsden and Macquarie | State Library of New South Wales

Marsden and Macquarie

Samuel Marsden's relationship with the government, and in particular, Governor Macquarie, was often difficult. Macquarie and Marsden disagreed on a range of issues. In particular, Marsden's sense of position and social order was offended by Macquarie's support of emancipists in the community. For example, in 1810 Marsden refused an appointment to the board of trustees of the Parramatta turnpike road because two successful ex-convicts were also on the board. The Governor viewed his refusal as an act of insubordination. As a landowner and successful farmer Marsden also objected to government control and interference in commercial activities.
Macquarie became increasingly suspicious of Marsden's investigation and sentencing activities as magistrate and his tendency to challenge the authority of the Governor. He suspected that Marsden was sending reports back to England complaining about the administration.

In January, 1818, Macquarie summoned Marsden to Government House and in front of witnesses described him as 'the Head of a seditious low Cabal and consequently unworthy of mixing in Private society'. He commanded him to avoid his presence except upon public duty.

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Transcript: Letter to Samuel Marsden, 8 January 1818 (a 797)

Sydney 8. Jan.y 1818
Thursday Noon

Mr Marsden!

     To prevent the possibility of any misrepresentation, I have thought it necessary to have those three Gentlemen present at this interview, in order that they may hear and bear witness, eventually, of what I am now about to say to you.
     1st. I have long known, Mr Marsden, that you are a secret Enemy of mine and as long as you continue only a secret one, I despised too much your malicious attempts to injure my character to take any notice of your treacherous conduct; but now that you have thrown off the mask, and have openly and Publickly manifested your hostile and factious disposition towards me, I can no longer consistently with what I owe to my own high station, and the tranquility of the Country I have the honor to Govern, pass over unnoticed, a recent most daring act of insolence and insubordination, of which you have been guilty.

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     2nd. I therefore demand of you to inform me by whose order, and by what authority, you have dared to investigate, and take Depositions, respecting my Public Measures and Administration, as Governor in Chief of this Colony. I allude, Sir, to your late examination of the Public Executioner, Thomas Hughes, at the House of Robert Campbell Esq.r, relative to my ordering three men to be Punished some time ago for breaking into the Government Domain contrary to repeated Government Orders. Answer
"That he did not consider that he had done anything wrong.-
     3rd. I consider, Sir, that act of yours, not only as most insolent and impertinent as respects myself Personally; but also as highly insubordinate and seditious; in

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as much as such conduct, on your part tends to inflame the mind of the Inhabitants, excite a clamour against my Government, bring my administration into disrepute, and disturb the General Tranquility of the Colony. Such conduct, Sir, would be highly Criminal in any man; but still much more so in you as being both a Magistrate and a Clergyman' who ought to be the first to set an example of loyalty, obedience, and proper subordination!
     4th. As I was myself Personally the object of your seditious, malicious, and officious investigation, on the occasion adverted to, I did not wish tho' I knew what was going forward at the time to interrupt your treacherous and insidious endeavours to injure my Character and thereby gratify your own spirit of revenge! But now, that I conclude that you have fully completed your investigation on the subject

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in question and transmitted Home the result thereof; I must thus Publickly warn you, that if ever you dare or presume again to interfere with, or investigate any part of my conduct, as Governor of this Colony, I shall consider it my indispensible duty as a measure of necessary precaution alike due to my own high station, the support of my authority, and the tranquility of the Country immediately to suspend you from the exercise of your Functions in your present offices, as a Clergyman and a Magistrate, until I report your conduct to H.R. Highness The Prince Regent. -
     5th. Viewing you now, Sir, as the Head of a Seditious Low Cabal and consequently unworthy of mixing in Private Society or intercourse with me, I beg to inform you that I never wish to see you excepting on Public Duty; and I cannot help deeply lamenting, that, any man of your Sacred Profession should be so much lost to every good feeling of Justice, generosity and gratitude, as to manifest such deep rooted malice, rancour, hostility and vindictive opposition towards one who has never injured you but has, on the contrary, conferred several acts of kindness on both yourself and Family!