Colonial Promoters: Tactics, Rubrics and Rhetorics

  • Robert D. Grant


In 1848, the Emigrant’s Friend had cautioned prospective emigrants against false information purveyed by joint stock companies and emigrant associations, ship owners and others who had ‘too deep an interest in recommending a Colony, to do so with candour or truth’. Even the British government would show only the favourable side of a colony, the author warned, when its object was the removal of a large number of discontented poor. A few years later, Godfrey Mundy exhorted potential emigrants not to be seduced into thinking those benevolent societies and philanthropic individuals that solicited expatriation, nor the colonies that welcomed them with open-arms, were motivated wholly by generous feelings. It was in the interest of the former to ‘shovel you out’, he advised laconically, and for the latter to force down the price of labour by ensuring an excess of supply over demand. He assured his readers he had no particular interest in misrepresenting the colonies he described: as wholly independent of them, he had ‘neither pique, partiality, nor prejudice to indulge’. Writers and reviewers sometimes made a point of stressing the impartiality of their advice to emigrants. Joseph Townsend claimed to have written his work on New South Wales to meet the growing interest in emigration. Having quit the colony, he assured his readers, he had no land to sell, ‘and no interest in puffing a particular locality’.


Ship Owner Zealand Company Saturday Review Household Word Potential Emigrant 
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  1. 1.
    J. Allen, The Emigrant’s Friend (London, 1848) pp. 5–6; Mundy, vol. 3, p. 101; vol. 1, p. viiGoogle Scholar
  2. Joseph Townsend, Rambles and Observations in New South Wales (London, 1849) p. v; Anon., ‘Letters from Canterbury, New Zealand’, Saturday Review, vol. 3, no. 68 (14 February 1857).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Thomson, vol. 2, pp. 308–309; Walter Brodie, Remarks on the Present State of New Zealand (London, 1845) pp. 112 & 113; Swainson, p. 213Google Scholar
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  5. 4.
    Emigration figures as a result of gold discoveries are from Dudley Baines, Migration in a Mature Economy (Cambridge, 1985) pp. 63 & 64. Mundy, vol. 1, pp. 132, 132(n) 398 & 408–409; Taylor, p. 268; Thomson, vol. 2, pp. 171–172.Google Scholar
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  23. 13.
    On Slater’s preparations, see Jennifer Quérée, (ed.), Set Sail for Canterbury (Christchurch, 2002); Anon., ‘Part of the Great Plain of the Canterbury settlement’, quoted in Canterbury Papers (1852), p. 317Google Scholar
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  26. 15.
    Lawrence Oliphant, Minnesota and the Far West (Edinburgh & London, 1855) pp. 36–38Google Scholar
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  28. 18.
    Swainson, pp. 263–265, 269, 274, 277 & 281; Taylor, p. 460; Willis, vol. 2, p. 108 (this must be one of the earliest recorded notices of global warming!); Samuel Sidney, ‘Climate of Australia’, Household Words, vol. 5, no. 120 (10 July 1852) pp. 391–392; Townsend, pp. 18–19; Mundy, vol. 1, p. 269; vol. 3, p. 17.Google Scholar
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© Robert Grant 2005

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  • Robert D. Grant

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