1813 entire headed "Hobart Town Van Dieman's Land/February 10th 1813" & signed "Ann McCarty", to London with a largely fine strike of the rare undated 'SYDNEY/NEW SOUTH WALES' handstamp applied in transit, a very fine strike of the British 'SHIP/[crown]/LETTER' handstamp & London arrival b/s of '28FE28/1814' in red, overall soiling but a far more appealing item than as presented in a number of publications in recent years. Ex Baetgen (2004). [Brian Peace acquired this extraordinary item by "private treaty" in 2005, for £25,000]
This is one of the most important items in all of Australian philately. It bears the earliest recorded strike - by three years - of Australia's first postal marking, introduced by Sydney's first postmaster, the former convict Isaac Nichols. The Handbook lists seventeen covers in the period up to mid-1819 - of which this is #1 - & suggests that the handstamp may have been obtained locally from the engraver William Henshell. Nichols died on 8/11/1819 & was succeeded as postmaster by George Panton who did not use any postal implements.
The letter exposes the lack of status of women of the time. McCarty appears to have been the mistress (or housekeeper?) of the recently deceased William I'Anson and regrets that William's best friend Matthew Bowden had not been given his Power of Attorney as I'Anson's estate had been seized "even what he left my daughter or in short what he gave both her and myself have been taken away...the last things sent out...were sold by auction [including] the box with those things intended for me...the memory of him I shall long retain being mother to his unfortunate child, now dead...believe I have done my utmost to acquit myself faithfully as his friend..." She entreats the addressee to act to recover the deceased's estate. A fascinating social insight.
The social entanglements in the background are quite fascinating. William I'Anson (usually styled "L'Anson", the "I" presumably having been misread) arrived at Hobart with David Collins. He was the senior surgeon, and Matthew Bowden his assistant: see Lot 6. I'Anson received one of the first land grants at Risdon Cove but sold it to TW Birch. The Irish rebel Denis McCarty was transported to Sydney in 1800, then sent to Van Diemen's Land for disobedience in 1803. In 1808, he was granted 5 acres at Birch Grove Farm: this was presumably part of I'Anson's original grant. McCarty's wife was Mary Ann McCarty, presumably the author of this letter! After Denis McCarty's death by drowning in 1820, she married Thomas Allen Lascelles. His stepson (Mary Ann's son?), Edwin Lascelles, later moved to Geelong where he formed the famous woolbroking firm of Dennys Lascelles Ltd with his cousin Charles Denys (who himself married Thomas Lascelles' daughter!)
Auction Category: Settlement 1788-1825 - Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania)
TASMANIA , Pre Stamp , Postal History , NEW SOUTH WALES , AUSTRALIAN COLONIES General , GREAT BRITAIN , Ship Letter , Postmarks