NameEdward White's Petition

Edward White, witness to the Risdon Cove massacre, resided in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) from 1803 until his death in 1840. In 1833 he petitioned for charity, suffering the infirmity of old age. These papers include checks made by the Colonial Secretary and testimony from other long term settlers as to Edward White's trustworthiness and that he had arrived in 1803. These documents can be easily accessed and read online.

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ContributorDr Bill Pascoe
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Added to System2023-06-22 13:31:59
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pp 112-118 Colonial Secretary correspondence 1824-1836, File Number 14693, Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1616823$init=CSO1-1-655-14693-2

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Date From1803
Date To1840
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Edward White's Petition

Risdon Cove




"The humble Petition of Edward White
That Petitioner is the oldest resident in Van Diemen's Land, having arrived at Restdown with Lieutenant Bowen in the Year 1803 and ever since been in this Colony. That for many years, sobriety, industry and care, supplied (comfortably) Petitioners little wants, until bodily affliction rendered him incapable of labour and called forth his former honest saving earning for subsistence but his last farthing is expended, and in a very late stage of life he is reduced to the lowest state, and but for humanity he would be destitute of food and habitation, and in sorrow and misery.
To those that look with an eye of pity on real distress, their benevolence Petitioner most humbly supplicates, and for their charitable releif, Petitioner will us in duty bound ever fervently pray for their reward in Heaven."
Edward, White 'The humble Petition of Edward White' in Image 2 - p 112  Colonial Secretary correspondence 1824-1836, File Number 14693, Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1616823$init=CSO1-1-655-14693-2

The petition was referred to the colonial surgeon and others in the colony for verification, and several people verified that Edward White was trustworthy and had been in the colony since 1803, as stated.
Image 4 - pp 113-114 Colonial Secretary correspondence 1824-1836, File Number 14693, Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1616823$init=CSO1-1-655-14693-4

John Fawkner says he has known Edward White for many years and that he is honest. (John Fawkner was a boy in 1803 when setting sail from England, and arrived at Hobart when a settlement at Port Phillip was abandoned in 1804.) 

John Beaumont says he has known Edward White for 20 years and that he is trustworthy. 
According to "John Beaumont 1789-1872 Index: Royal Society Collection" John Beaumont "was a Tasmanian settler and public servant who married Harriet Evans, daughter of Surveyor-General George Evans in 1820"
According to Jennifer Richardson, John Beaumont arrived in Tasmania 1813.

A signatory with an illegible name possibly 'Geoffrey' has known him 'for a number of years' and regards him as a 'worth and deserving man'.

Another is from the hospital commenting on his state of health and old age. They accept his claims but cannot admit him into the hospital as his ailments aren't severe enough, but recommend, due to his old age and recurring ailments, he be fed and provided for.

A comment under the initial of the Colonial Secretary, John Burnett, accepts the statements and validation as follows "As this poor unfortunate old man is one of the first Europeans that set foot on these shores and accompanied Lieutenant Bowen in 1833 to Van Diemens Land..." the year '1833' is clearly an error. Lieutenant Bowen arrived in 1803, so 1803 must be what is meant, and the statement is overall one of acceptance of Edward White's claim to have arrived in 1803. Edward White was without doubt already in Hobart in 1830 as a witness to the Risdon Cove massacre conducted by the Broughton committee, and so could not have 'arrived' in 1833. The year '1833' is underlined indicating an error was noted. The letter is written in 1833, so it is evidently a slip up from habit of a hand constantly writing the current date, replacing 1803 with 1833. Colonial Secretary, John Burnett also clearly states 1803 in a more formal statement on the following page.

In Image 5, Page 115, a letter supports Edward White's petition acknowledging he is one of the first settlers at Restdown and remarks in favour of his character that he had never been brought before a magistrate for any offence. 
Image 5, Page 115 Colonial Secretary correspondence 1824-1836, File Number 14693, Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1616823$init=CSO1-1-655-14693-2

The Colonial Secretary, John Burnett, accepted Edward White's petition and its verification by the colonial surgeon and other well known early settlers, and recommended Edward White be supported by the government in old age. He stated that "Your Memorialist [Edward White] arrived in the Colony in the year 1803 being the first settlement of this Colony."
Image 7 - pp 117-118  Colonial Secretary correspondence 1824-1836, File Number 14693, Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1616823$init=CSO1-1-655-14693-7

Another mention of Edward White occuring in a log entry, reading "White Edward 14693 for Relief", shows that his petition was accepted and acted on. This indicates his statement and the validation of other other long term settlers, was accepted by the colonial surgeon and the colonial secretary, and was an acknowledged fact at every level, from respectable long term settlers to the highest authority in the colony

Edward White, labourer, is recorded as having died at age 77, Feb 13, 1840.


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2023-06-22 13:37:27
Updated At
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