Barrallier’s Surveys of the Hunter Region (1801-1802)

Coal Harbour and Rivers on the Coast of New South Wales, Surveyed by Ensign Barrallier, In His Majesty's Armed Surveying Vessel, "Lady Nelson," Liet. James Grant, Commander, in June and July 1801. By Order of Governor King. (HRNSW Vol. 5 p420a)
Coal Harbour and Rivers on the Coast of New South Wales, Surveyed by Ensign Barrallier, In His Majesty’s Armed Surveying Vessel, “Lady Nelson,” Liet. James Grant, Commander, in June and July 1801. By Order of Governor King. (HRNSW Vol. 5 p420a)

 

For many years, when historians spoke of the Barrallier Survey or Map of the Hunter Region, conducted during the survey mission of June to July 1801, the map (above) was the only one known to them. It was published in the Historical Records of New South Wales, Volume 5 between pages 420-421.

It wasn’t until 1993 that Mr Andy Macqueen, whilst writing his book on Barrallier ‘Blue Mountains to Bridgetown: The Life and Journeys of  Barrallier 1773-1853’ located the full Barrallier Survey located in the Hydrographic Office United Kingdom.  This plan, located at the United Kingdom’s Hydrographic Office in Taunton at Shelf Location: 435 Press 45B shows detail of the Hunter islands and Fullerton Cove. The UON’s Coal River Working Party arranged to have the original plan digitised and we thank Mr Guy Hannaford, Archives Research Manager at the Hydrographic Office for his help in locating this important plan, and its preparatory conservation work undertaken prior to its digitisation. It is greatly appreciated.

Francis Barrallier – Coal Harbour and Rivers ..1801 (Courtesy of Hydrographic Office Taunton UK)

On the 24 June 1801 Ensign Barrallier writes to Governor King in his native French describing the terrific waves around Nobbys and the hazardous entrance to the Harbour. He mentioned a ‘map’ that Bladen, the editor of the Historical Records of New South Wales, described as “lost”. (See: Historical Records of New South Wales, V.4 Ed. by F.M. Bladen Sydney, 1896: 413-414.):

Hunter’s River, 24 June 1801

Sir,

I have the honour to send you via the schooner* [a map of] the entrance to the river, and some of the adjacent parts, which I have drawn up since we arrived, with the relevant depths, rocks, sandbanks and its various coal mines that have been discovered to date.† I am rapidly advancing toward the northern bank which you may imagine to end most probably at Port Stephen,‡ but I am held back at almost every moment by the great space that exists between the two shores and by the difficulty of finding points that are suitable for establishing clear bases for the triangles.

You can see from my map what a fear some passage one has to traverse in order to reach this beautiful river. The roaring of the waves, crashing one upon the other and breaking with a terrible noise on the steep rocks of the island, and raging as they roll onto the sands of the opposite shore, would make the most intrepid sailor tremble. [If you had been here] you would have seen all the seamen, with terror showing on their faces but remaining firm at their posts, obeying with incredible dexterity their captain’s orders in order to extricate him from this almost impenetrable labyrinth. The doctor [Dr Harris] is a man who is truly necessary, for he is indefatigable in whatever he undertakes, and were it not for his great perseverance neither we nor the schooner would have entered the river that day.

The Colonel [Lieutenant Colonel Paterson] has, he says, made many new discoveries of plants, and he proposes to explore the country for as far as he can safely go. It is most unfortunate for him that we are so badly provided with boats, seeing that as I have been obliged to use the two which belong to the ship he has no other choice than to use the one belonging to the doctor.

I am, Sir, with respect, Your Excellency’s most humble servant,

F. BARRALLIER

* The Francis.
† This plan is missing.
‡ Presumably the Williams River.

In 2006 Mr Doug Lithgow, President of the Parks and Playgrounds Movement Inc, in a recent research trip to the Mitchell Library in Sydney located another Barrallier map, on a microcard (BT36 Image 0072) that didn’t fit the ones previously known. The original copy is reproduced below.

Barrallier Map located by Mr Doug Lithgow in 2006 on Mitchell Library Microcard, BT36 Image 0072.
Barrallier Map located by Mr Doug Lithgow in 2006 on Mitchell Library Microcard, BT36 Image 0072.

We contacted the Curator of Maps at the Mitchell Library, who provided the following information regarding the microcard image:

The location number you’ve given for the Barrallier map – BT36 Image 0072 – refers to one of the plans from Bonwick Transcripts Box Z B.T.36 [ML ref. CY Reel 1378] in the Colonial Office C.O.201 volume, held in the Public Record Office, London, and filmed by the Australian Joint Copying Project. The map titled ‘Newcastle, Coal Harbour & Rivers as surveyed by Ensign Barrallier about 1804’ is listed in our index of AJCP microfilm as Plan CY Reel 1378 frame no.28.

Also included in our listing of C.O.700 Colonial Office manuscript maps of New South Wales [ML ref. PRO 6937] is a reference to ‘F. Barrallier. Coal Harbour and rivers on the coast of N.S.W. 1801 (2 maps) – (see description below). This is a smaller scale Barrallier map than your attached pdf image, and includes the Hunter River from Coal Harbour at the lower left corner. It is published in Historical Records of NSW, vol. 5, between pp.420-421, and titled as follows: ‘Coal Harbour and Rivers, On the Coast of New South Wales, surveyed by Ensign Barrallier, In His Majesty’s Armed Surveying Vessel, “Lady Nelson”, Lieut. James Grant, Commander, in June and July, 1801. By Order of Governor King’.  – Email to Gionni Di Gravio Sent Thursday  5 October 2006 6:16 pm

‘The map is microfilmed in three frames, and identified as AJCP/PRO microfilm ‘New South Wales 16′ on C.O.700 Colonial Office manuscript maps of New South Wales [ML ref. PRO 6937]. The first frame is the left third of the map, of which the pdf image you attached to your message to Richard Neville is a portion.’ – Email to Gionni Di Gravio Sent Friday, 6 October 2006 11:54 am

‘A reproduced image of the original of Barrallier’s ‘Coal Harbour’ map published in Andy Macqueen’s ‘Blue Mountains to Bridgetown: the Life and journeys of Barrallier 1773-1853’ Springwood: 1993 (ISBN 0646147706), carries the original map’s shelf location number in the lower right corner – ‘435 Press 45b’ [ie. UK Hydrographic Office, Taunton].’ – Email to Gionni Di Gravio  Sent Friday, 6 October 2006 3:35 pm

We would therefore need to contact the National Archives of the United Kingdom to locate the original.

Now looking for two maps (dated 1801 and 1804) we contacted the Map Archivist at the National Archives, U.K. who replied that the document reference for the 1804 Baraillier map was MFQ 1/528, and for the 1801 Barrallier map, it is CO 700/New South Wales16/1.

It was with great joy that we finally saw the original again for the first time in 200 years!

Francis Barrallier – Coal Harbour and Rivers ..1801 (Courtesy of National Archives of the UK)

Ensign Francis Louis Barrallier. ‘Coal Harbour and Rivers, On the Coast of New South Wales, surveyed by Ensign Barrallier, In His Majesty’s Armed Surveying Vessel, “Lady Nelson”, Lieut. James Grant, Commander, in June and July, 1801. By Order of Governor King’. CO 700/ New South Wales 16/

Successfully rediscovered in its complete form by the University of Newcastle’s Coal River Working Party, framed copies of the plan were presented on the 1st February 2008 by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO Governor of New South Wales to the Staff and Students of Wollotuka School of Aboriginal Studies, Stockton Historical Society, the Lord Mayor of Newcastle ,John Tate and Vice Chancellor of the University of Newcastle Professor Nicholas Saunders. A further copy was presented to Her Excellency on behalf of the University of Newcastle by Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Kevin McConkey. Five framed copies were made with the support of the Hartley Bequest Program. See photographs from the day here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157603908119847/

Both maps on their left hand side display different details of the inner harbour and islands of the Hunter River. What was to be the known as the Paterson River had not been surveyed during June to July 1801.

Martin Mason who took charge of the settlement at Coal River stated in a report to Governor King in November 1801 that his “aidagong [aid-de-camp] Kirkwald went up the river with Mr. Grimes and Barallear ; he returned sick. The small boat is still emploied in the survey, so we have but one boat,” – Mr. M. MASON TO GOVERNOR KING. (King Papers.) Hunter’s River, 21st November, 1801. (HRNSW V4 p.627).

This is backed up by Grimes who writes to Sir Joseph Banks in an undated letter, preseumably around April 1802 that Barrallier “informs me he was to be from 4 October to the middle of May employed in finishing the survey of Hunter River and its environs, and the coast from Western Point as far as he could in the time prescribed.” – THE RIGHT HON. C. F. GREVILLE TO SIR JOSEPH BANKS (Banks Papers.) (HRNSW  V4 p.740).

A description of what Barrallier saw there is recorded in a letter received by Banks. See Barrallier, Francis, 1773-1853. Letter received by Banks from Charles Francis Greville, April 1802 (Series 23.25) 

It includes Greville’s translation of a letter received by Greville from Francis Barrallier titled `Extract from Ensign Barrallier’s Letter to Mr Greville’, ca April 1802, and contains a description of the entrance to Hunters River and Patersons River, with descriptions of the Natives seen there. [Sir Joseph Banks’ Papers ] State Library of New South Wales. So we can conclude that Barrallier did finish his survey of the Hunter, Williams and Paterson Rivers.

In the National Archives of the United Kingdom is Barrallier’s 1804 plan located at MFQ 1/528 entitled: Sketch of the Discoveries Made In the Interior of NEW SOUTH WALES in 1802 Together With the Survey of COAL HARBOUR In 1801 by ENSIGN F BARRALLIER of the NSW SOUTH WALES Corps. This does show the Paterson River. Whether a detailed Hunter Region plan was prepared we have not been able to locate.

Sketch of the Discoveries Made In the Interior of NEW SOUTH WALES in 1802 Together With the Survey of COAL HARBOUR In 1801 by ENSIGN F BARRALLIER of the NSW SOUTH WALES Corps. (Courtesy of the National Archives of the UK)
Sketch of the Discoveries Made In the Interior of NEW SOUTH WALES in 1802 Together With the Survey of COAL HARBOUR In 1801 by ENSIGN F BARRALLIER of the NSW SOUTH WALES Corps. (Courtesy of the National Archives of the UK)

The only plan that comes close to what Barrallier may have prepared, is this one (see below) held in the State Library of New South Wales, and ascribed to an anonymous mapmaker and surveyor circa 1819. It displays all three branches, The Hunter, The Williams, and the Paterson.

Port Hunter and its Branches, 1819. (Courtesy of the State Library of NSW)
Port Hunter and its Branches, 1819. (Courtesy of the State Library of NSW)

Barrallier returned to Coal River in October 1801 as a presiding magistrate along with Dr Martin Mason at the Court of Inquiry into the misconduct of Corporal Wixstead. Around this time, he killed two birds in travelling back up the to the Paterson River to complete the survey begun four months prior. This plan is now apparently lost, but we know from the MFQ 1/528 plan by him, dated 1802, in the National Archives of the United Kingdom, that he did complete it, as the three branches of the rivers are all shown.

It is therefore tantalising this plan by unknown artist and mapmaker entitled Port Hunter and its Branches, New South Wales c.1819 as it shows all three branches, and might be exactly what Francis Barrallier’s missing plan might have looked like, at least, its creator may have used Barrallier’s work in its execution.

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist
Chair, Hunter (Living) Histories Initiative


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