When the war with Tippoo1 was over, Hayes returned to Calcutta, and was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant. It was then that he heard of an opportunity to trade in spices. His informant, John McCluer, was a Bombay Marine2 officer, slightly senior to himself, who apparently was his close friend, and with whom the plan of making an expedition to New Guinea seems to have originated.
When Hayes learned from McCluer that … nutmeg and other equally valuable produce were easily obtainable in New Guinea, so that a cargo could be loaded without difficulty, it seemed as though the road to wealth had suddenly opened before him. Serving as he was in India, where men of commercial instincts were ever on the alert in search of a new venture, he determined to take three well-known merchants into his confidence, and to solicit their aid in order to carry out the voyage. The three merchants whom he selected, Messrs. Udney, Frushard, and Laprimaudaye, were no less sanguine as to the ultimate success of the project, and a small band of promoters was formed, consisting of Captain John Hayes, Captain Thomas Watkin Court, a Mr. Robertson, and the three merchants named, each of whom agreed to become responsible for a share of the expense. Messrs. Udney, Frushard, and Laprimaudaye undertook the cost of purchasing and fitting out the ships that were to make the expedition; and Captain Hayes, Captain Court, and Mr. Robertson agreed to receive no pay during the voyage, but merely to have their table expenses allowed tham by the other three. Two ships—the Duke of Clarence, of 250 tons, and mounting 14 guns, and the Duchess, an armed snow3 of 100 tons—were chartered, and Captain Hayes was placed in charge of the larger ship with control of the general navigation of both vessels. Captain Court and Mr. William Risdon were appointed first and second officers respectively under Hayes, and Mr. Robertson sailed in his ship as supercargo,4 with power to conclude any transactions that he might think proper, at the different places visited in their travels. The command of the Duchess was entrusted to Captain Relph, another officer of the Bombay Marine.
The following list of officers and men who accompanied Captain Hayes was submitted to the East India Company by him:—
. . .
Thomas Watkin Court
1st officer, Duke of Clarence.
. . . .
Placed in command of the Duchess.
Wm. Bellamy Risdon
2nd officer, Duke of Clarence.
. . .
3rd officer, Duke of Clarence.
Supercargo to the whole expedition.
Surgeon, Duke of Clarence.
It is evident that when Hayes left India he had no idea of carrying out any extensive exploration of the countries that he might visit, or he would have taken with him a botanist, or some one who possessed at least a smattering of botanical knowledge. No scientist sailed in his ships; but there was a surgeon in the Duke of Clarence, whose presence proved of the greatest importance to the crews, and the expedition, which was equipped in the most complete manner, was ready for sea in January, 1793. Its object was kept a profound secret in Calcutta, the Indian Press of that day merely referring to it as “a voyage about to be taken in search of secret commerce.”
The directors of the East India Company probably knew the destination of the two ships and why officers of the Bombay Marine were sailing in them, but they gave no encouragement to the promoters of the expedition. Perhaps they thought that it was chiefly due to a spirit of adventure, or they may have looked askance at a scheme which seemed to them to come near to poaching on their own preserves. Their lack of interest, to whatever cause it may have been due, failed to damp the enthusiasm of the young captain, who set forth from Calcutta upon his travels with all the resolution of a seasoned navigator. On February 6th, 1793, the Duke of Clarence sailed from Calcutta …
From Timor,5 Hayes’s ships sailed southward along the coast of Western Australia, and rounded the southern shores of Tasmania, then known as Van Diemen’s Land, and believed to form part of the Australian continent.
On reaching Tasmania, on April 25th, Captain Hayes endeavoured to anchor first in Adventure Bay, but neither the Duke of Clarence nor the Duchess was able to beat into it; so he took them with some difficulty round Cape Frederick Henry, a point off the eastern shores of Bruni Island,6 and into the Storm Bay of Tasman.
When Hayes landed he was quite unaware that only two months previously Admiral D’Entrecasteaux7 had sailed from Adventure Bay, this being the second time the French ships—the Recherche and the Espérance—had visited Tasmania. D’Entrecasteaux had first arrived there in April of the previous year, and, entering Storm Bay, had discovered a channel which he named after himself. Besides thoroughly exploring it his boats had entered two rivers, naming them Huon and Rivière du Nord. The French, in fact, before the arrival of Hayes, had made many surveys of the Tasmanian coast, and had given French names to almost every part of its southern shores. On the occasion of his first visit D’Entrecasteaux stayed a month, and then sailed to New Caledonia,8 but he returned a second time to Tasmania in 1793. Hayes does not seem to have suspected the recent presence of the French, nor does he appear to have known that parties from two English ships—the Providence and the Assistant, under Captain William Bligh9—had surveyed Bruni Island a few months before D’Entrecasteaux reached Tasmania.
While surveying the different harbours, a work which possessed great fascination for Captain Hayes, a mutiny, which fortunately came to nothing, was being fomented among his ships’ crew. On many occasions during the voyage from India Mr. Robertson had shown a great deal of bad feeling towards him, failing to treat him with the respect to which his position as the leader of the expedition entitled him. That no actual quarrel had taken place was mainly owing to the self-control exercised by Captain Hayes. When, however, Mr. Robertson found himself alone on shore with the wooding and watering parties, he availed himself of the opportunity to give vent to his feelings and to denounce his commander. At the same time, in order to impress the seamen with a sense of his own importance, he went so far as to tell them that he owned the ships, and that unless they obeyed him and not Captain Hayes, if they happened to differ, the payment of their wages would be stopped. At first Hayes did not fully realise the danger of his position. He says: “I overlooked some daring acts of mutiny committed by the supercargo, but when I found that some of the men believed him and that it was openly murmured among the crew that Robertson was the owner, and could when he pleased turn me out of command of the ships, so warping the minds of the ignorant men from their duty, that for the safety of the vessels and of those attacked on account of their service to me I was compelled to confine him.” Apparently as a punishment for his conduct and to prevent its repetition, Robertson was put in irons.
In the neighbourhood of D’Entrecasteaux’s Strait the French had left nothing unexplored or undone. Their boats had been everywhere and their officers had seen everything that was to be seen. Willaumez had also penetrated an opening at the head of Storm Bay, and upon examining it had discovered the mouth of a river which was named Rivière du Nord. Hayes’s ships entered this river, and, having explored a bay which he named Relph’s Bay, in honour of Captain Relph,10 the commander of the Duchess, proceeded up the river, taking frequent soundings and obtaining much knowledge of its banks. Their beauty and grandeur delighted him. The mountain slopes were bright with verdure, while at their base fertile valleys ran down right to the edge of the banks of the river. Hayes thought at first that he had discovered a gulf, naming it Fletcher Hayes Gulf in remembrance of his brother. A prominent point was christened Point William, probably after another relative, and a projection near which the ship came into shallow water was called Shoal Point.
The Duke of Clarence and the Duchess continued a north-westerly route, and eventually reached an anchorage after passing a very high mountain with precipitous sides. The explorers here found themselves abreast of a beautiful cove, which is called on Hayes’s chart Risdon Creek and River, Collins [probably the Colonel Collins, formerly judge advocate of New South Wales, who was in command, in the capacity of lieutenant-governor, of the first attempt by the “Home Government” to form a settlement in Tasmania, in 1803] gives a description of Risdon, which in view of the historical importance of the spot in after years is worth quoting. He says: “The land at the head of Risdon Creek on the east side seems preferable to any other on the banks of the Derwent. The creek runs winding between two steep hills and ends in a chain of ponds that extends into a fertile valley of great beauty.” Many in Australia have wondered why Risdon was so called. It has often been stated in print that the name originated in Restdown as being the place where the first British settlers under Lieutenant Bowen, R.N., rested after their stormy voyage from New South Wales in 1803, a legend which has come to be regarded as the truth. Risdon, however, was the surname of the second officer of the Duke of Clarence.
To the north of Risdon, on the Derwent’s eastern bank, another mountain, named Mount Direction, was observed, and looking southwards from its summit, the bay could be seen which Furneaux had called Frederick Henry Bay,11 as well as various points of the river extending as far as Betsey Island.
From his anchorage above Risdon the Commander continued his explorations of the upper reaches of the river, when he must have become aware of his mistake in calling it a gulf. Although he kept the name Fletcher Hayes Gulf upon his chart, he bestowed upon the part he now surveyed the name of the river Derwent (the name the whole river now bears) or Derwentwater.12 He appears to have taken great pleasure in this part of his task, but he afterwards learnt to his disappointment that he was not the first to discover the portion near the river’s mouth. …
With a few exceptions, Hayes still continued to bestow the names of his brother officers and of his friends upon the different points of land and upon the coves and streams of Tasmania. The wide tract of country that stretched from the eastern banks of the Derwent away to the unknown north was called New Yorkshire. Its scenery above Risdon was particularly beautiful. On this side, in addition to Mount Direction Hayes named a mountain and two small points Lion Couchant, Stony Point and Deep Point. On the opposite banks of the Derwent a cove north of Cornelian Basin was called Stainforth’s Bay, in honour of Captain Stainforth of the Bombay Marine, and Croom’s River still further south took the name of another member of the expedition, both these names surviving to the present day [sic].
Hayes’s landing at Dorey Bay seems to have been purely “a lucky accident”. His partners, Messrs. Frushard and Laprimaudaye, afterwards spoke of him as being its first discoverer, in which, however, they were mistaken, as this part of New Guinea had been known to Europeans in the early part of the sixteenth century and visited, at long intervals, since that time. McCluer, in 1791, had surveyed land in the vicinity of Geelvink Bay, but it seems unlikely that he entered the harbour into which Hayes took the Duke of Clarence and the Duchess.
The natives of Restoration Bay welcomed Hayes and his comrades in a very friendly way, and gave invaluable assistance to the sailors in replenishing their ships, the population in the immediate neighbourhood being estimated to consist of 1500 people. …
John McCluer’s information proved correct. Nutmegs and equally valuable spices were soon discovered. Upon the island of Manaswary, or Manaswari, situated at the entrance to the harbour, and which Hayes named King George’s Island in honour of George III., at least three hundred nutmeg trees of full growth were counted. They were not, however, the round species known as the Banda nutmeg, but were elongated and better known as Warong, the name given them in the Moluccas.
Upon going further into the country under the guidance of the natives, Captain Hayes saw growing in the woods other nutmeg trees which, he felt sure, were the true Banda nutmeg, called Keyan by the people of the Moluccas. In one of his letters he writes: “The natives unasked soon convinced me that I was in the exact spot I had wished to discover by bringing us nutmegs, clove bark, missoy bark, birds of paradise, etc., etc.13 As they kept on stripping the nutmeg trees of the half-grown fruit in a most prodigal manner, I made signs to them that they were of no value to us which caused them to desist. They have so little idea of their value, that they would bring me two or three pounds’ worth in return for an empty bottle, and conceive themselves highly rewarded. They brought those of the long kind like those growing upon King George’s Island, and I think the three hundred trees there, if cultivated, would each yield a Bengalee maund (i.e., equal to eighty pounds) twice a year.”
The chief amusements of the people appeared to be hunting the wild hog in the woods, and fishing for trepang. Patches of cultivated land surrounded by hedges could be seen at some distance from the bay, and in these cultivated spots, rice, maize, millet, and yams were raised. The fruits of the sago palm (libby tree), cocoanut palm, and plantain were also eaten, sago cakes being their chief food. Their houses were curious, being built on piles and posts above the waters of the harbour, which at high tide reached nearly to the floors. They were connected with the shore by means of bridges formed of tree-trunks. Their temples, still more curious, were covered with grotesque carvings of remarkably good design. In the bay there were numerous beds of oysters containing small pearls of no great value; these the natives used to barter with their visitors.
Captain Hayes thought so highly of Dorey and its products that he decided to form a settlement there immediately. He gave the name of New Albion to all the territory surrounding the bay, and called the high mountains, which formed a boundary to the eastward, the Pacific Alps (their native name being Arfak or Arfaxi). In the old Dutch charts their tops are represented as rising above the clouds. Other portions of the coast, as well as the adjoining islands, were also assigned distinguishing names. Among these may be mentioned an island, Maspmapy of the natives, close to King George’s Island, which was called Queen Charlotte’s Isle in honour of the Queen, and a harbour farther southward Princess Royal Harbour. With almost boyish enthusiasm the English Commander made plans to annex the land on behalf of his country.
On the north side of the harbour parties were set to work to build a strong stockade fort out of the logwood which grew plentifully in the neighbourhood, and upon this being completed by October 25th, the anniversary of the King’s Coronation, it was called Coronation Fort. On that day the Union Jack was hoisted, a salute of twenty-one guns was fired, and Hayes took formal possession of the country in the name of King George III., the following proclamation being also drawn up and signed by Captain Hayes and his officers.
“To all nations, states, countries, Sovereigns, and Heads of such and all other persons whatsoever these presents, greeting. I inform them that the country, Islands, Harbour, hereafter and herein specified and explained by the annexed chart have been regularly taken possession of on behalf of the King and Nation of Great Britain, and do hereby solely belong to the King and Nation of Great Britain for ever. No other Nation, State, Power, or Persons having the smallest claim to any part whatever of these possessions nor right to trade directly or indirectly within these boundaries, explained by the annexed chart, without showing a particular warrant under the seal of Great Britain to the person residing as British Governor at Fort Coronation, the Presidency of these possessions, viz. :—
“From Catherine’s Island South East point in Latitude 10° 39' South, and Longitude 154° 24' 20" East, to Point Dispute, Prince Edward’s Roads in Latitude 00° 21' South, and Longitude 131° 6' 8" East, taking in William Hayes’ Strait and Island—vide aforesaid chart. The country and coast situated between these boundaries is called and hereafter known by no either name than the country and coast of New Albion which includes Restoration Bay or Harbour, at the north side of which is Fort Coronation adjacent the islands King George and Queen Charlotte: further to the southward the islands14 and Harbour called Princess Royal Islands and Harbour, between Point Observation and Mount Satisfaction, the small island called Confirmation Island, the high and large mountains forming the fourth and eastern boundary of Restoration Bay are called the Pacific Alps. All the lesser bays, rivers, etc.. are laid down and named in the annexed chart which is to be considered the criterion of these possessions now annexed to the Crown of Great Britain. God save the King.
“Done at Fort Coronation this twenty-fifth day of October in the thirty-third year of the reign of our Gracious Sovereign George The Third by the grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith etc., in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three.
JOHN HAYES. L.S.
THOMAS WATKIN COURT. L.S.
WILLIAM RELPH. L.S.
WILLIAM BELLAMY RISDON.”
It will be seen that Captain Hayes in defining his colony of New Albion included within it practically the whole of the northern coast of New Guinea. Nearly a century later another notable attempt was made to bring New Guinea under British rule, when Sir Thomas McIlwraith (Premier of Queensland) gave orders for the Union Jack to be hoisted there. Mr. H. M. Chester, then stationed at Thursday Island, was instructed to proceed to New Guinea and to take possession of all the territory not actually claimed by the Government of the Netherlands. The whole eastern half of the island was thus annexed for England. This action was, however, repudiated by those in authority at home, as was that of Hayes by the East India Company. Since then north-eastern New Guinea has become a German dependency, forcing England to annex the south-western part as contiguous to Australia.
Having acquitted himself on his country’s behalf as narrated above, Captain Hayes lost no time in examining the natural products which grew in the vicinity and in testing the capabilities of the soil. Seeds of several kinds brought from Bengal had already been sown, and roots were also planted, including yams, onions, and potatoes. Fortunately the pot-herbs matured so quickly that a sufficient quantity was soon available for the ships’ crews, and the fresh vegetables proved an inestimable benefit to them.
A factory, begun by some of the spare hands while the fort was being built, was now finished and ready for use, the Papuans having given considerable assistance in its erection. In it were stored the clove bark and spices which had been gathered in the woods and brought down to the settlement to be cured. This operation was found to be somewhat tedious, but here again the natives proved very helpful. For seven days in succession Captain Hayes accompanied a party of sailors upon expeditions from the fort into the interior, where he personally directed the stripping of the missoy bark which was carried down to Restoration Bay to be dried. Hayes says that he knew that this bark “fetched a high price in the markets of India and sold as high as sixty dollars per pecul in China. The natives eat the buds of the tree. The leaf, which is exactly the same as the cinnamon when dried, tastes and answers the purpose of the bayleaf.” “The clove itself,” he continues, “I could not find, although the natives declared that it grew in the island, but farther to the eastward.”
From the first Hayes determined that his people should keep on friendly terms with the Papuans, and having soon discovered how useful they were to him, he knew that if well-treated they might prove even more so. With his sailors to superintend the work he taught them to lay out plantations adjoining the factory, and these, when ready for use, he stocked with 1500 young missoy trees which he caused to be dug up at some distance inland and carried down to the bay. Some nutmeg trees of the round species were also brought to the Fort. In addition to the spices mentioned, dyewoods and roots for dyeing grew in the country, among them sapan and logwood. The forests of the interior abounded with valuable timber, the most notable being black walnut, ebony, iron wood, and the eastern teak, known to Hayes from his experience in the Moluccas as “fatty wood”, out of which the natives built their war canoes and sometimes their houses. Large quantities of fish were caught in the bay, and large and small turtle were found to frequent its shores, to which wild fowl, and other birds shot inland, proved a valuable addition. Hayes records that some were very beautiful; he particularly mentions the birds of paradise, crowned pigeons, kingfishers, and parrots. Signs of gold, known to the natives as “buloan”, were also found in the high mountains ranging Dorey Peninsula. It is recorded that near the harbour swarms of parrots and small birds did incalculable mischief to the fruit of the nutmeg trees, so that it was found necessary to take vigorous measures to check their depredations.
Altogether there was so much that was desirable at this spot that Captain Hayes and his company must have been disappointed to find that they were not the first Europeans to visit it. The mistake they made is not surprising when we consider how little is known about New Guinea even at the present time, and that it is still in the process of being opened up by fresh explorations. …
During the latter portion of his stay at Restoration Bay, Captain Hayes continued to occupy his time in collecting spices and preparing them for shipment. He was anxious to recoup his partners and himself for the expenditure which had been incurred in fitting out the expedition, and as the Papuans showed themselves harmless and friendly he still made use of them, with the result that eventually he had no less than five hundred of them carrying out his orders at the settlement. They lived in a village close to the factory. He thus writes of them: “I found that some of the more important natives possessed authority over others who were in fact slaves. Many of these were offered in sale to my people in return for the smallest trifle—even a piece of blue bafta15 would have bought one,—but I gave orders that on no account was one to be purchased.” In many cases these slaves appeared to be prisoners of war, possibly inland natives, Alfuros or Haraforas, whom he has elsewhere likened to the mountain races at Rossel Island.
From the time of their first arrival at Dorey the careening of the ships was a matter of great concern to Hayes, for owing to the long voyage without a proper overhaul, they had become so foul as to be in a very bad condition, particularly the Duchess. Captain Hayes tells us that his officers made a survey of both vessels, and that the Duchess was formally condemned as unseaworthy.
Being thus left with but one sound ship, Hayes saw how imperative it was that no time should be lost in returning to India. On the other hand, there existed many important reasons for remaining at the settlement. The greater part of the missoy bark gathered into the factory had not yet been cured, and if carried away before being dried would be spoilt and unfit for use. In the circumstances the Commander determined to take the opinion of his officers and crew as to his future movements. For this purpose he called a meeting, at which he explained to his men exactly how matters stood. After a long discussion, it was finally agreed that Captain Hayes should take a cargo of spices back to India in the Duke of Clarence, while Captain Court and two other officers, with twelve European seamen, eleven Sepoys16 and Lascars17 (all of whom voluntarily expressed a wish to remain) should take charge of Fort Coronation and of the ship Duchess, together with the work at the factory.
In the interval before his departure from Restoration Bay Hayes took care that the defences of the Fort should be considerably strengthened, so that the settlement might be prepared for eventualities. Accordingly six four-pounders were removed from the ships to Fort Coronation with all the arms and ammunition that could be spared. It was further decided that Captain Relph and Mr. Risdon should return to India with Captain Hayes in the Duke of Clarence …
About the middle of December  Hayes hastened his departure as his provisions at that time had become so reduced that after reserving enough for the maintenance of the Fort there were only sufficient for the voyage of the Duke of Clarence to India. He bade farewell to Captain Court and his comrades at the settlement, embarking with his crew on December 22nd. He then steered for the Moluccas, calling first at Batchian, the largest and most southerly island of the group, anchoring in Freshwater Bay, called by him Edmund Burke’s Bay, by which name, however, it has never been known. The natives were friendly, evidently pleased at the visit, for before the ship sailed they solicited the officers on several occasions to remain and to take over the island. The Duke of Clarence arrived at Bouro18 on February 16th, and Hayes tells us that by the time they reached this point in their journey the crew were greatly in need of proper food. For two months they had lived on rice and water, for “excepting a small quantity of fish,” he adds, “nothing could be obtained at most of the islands we touched at.”
In summing up the events connected with Hayes’s voyage as far as Bouro, it might be said that from the time of his leaving Calcutta he had not once been able to replenish his ships. At most of the ports at which he had called the food supply was limited to fish and a few edible plants, while the provisions which the Duke of Clarence took on board at Restoration Bay were, apart from rice, of such a perishable nature that they were soon exhausted. There is little doubt that when the ship’s company reached Cayeli Bay they were all, from the Captain downwards, looking forward to, and badly wanted, a change to wholesome and sustaining food.
With his provisions safely stowed on board, Hayes again put to sea, leaving Bouro on March 11th . He voyaged southwards towards Timor, steering first to the island of Bouton, and eventually anchored in Coupang Roads on April 29th. The seamen of the Duke of Clarence were then suffering from scurvy, and it was possibly on this account that Hayes put into harbour. On his arrival several of the sick men were landed so that they might be properly attended to, and finally three of them were left behind. The English Commander was then forced to solicit the assistance of the Dutch authorities, from whom he asked for some European sailors to enable him to work his ship to her next port.
On May 18th, having taken on board stores of wood and water, Captain Hayes left the harbour of Coupang, hoping to make a fast voyage to Calcutta. He little foresaw the further troubles which were in store for him. Steering to Cape Sedano he passed through the Straits of Madura to surabaya, a Dutch settlement on the east coast of Java.
After a brief wait at this Dutch port, which is situated on the Java coast facing the island of Madura, the Duke of Clarence continued her voyage to Batavia, where she arrived on June 18th, finding the Bengal Squadron at anchor in the roads. …
Commodore Mitchell19 had returned to Batavia before the arrival of the Duke of Clarence, and his presence there seems to have made a considerable difference to Captain Hayes. He was not allowed continue his voyage to India, but “found himself under the necessity of proceeding to Canton”.20 Commodore Mitchell was probably unable to spare one of the ships of his squadron for this service, and was then on the point of returning to India himself. Passages to India were obtained for Captain Relph and Mr. Risdon on board a Bombay vessel which was preparing to sail in company with the squadron, and to Captain Relph were entrusted desptatches for the East India Company and for Hayes’s partners. The opportunity to forward these may have slightly compensated him for the changes he had been compelled to make in his plans. Mr. Moore, late second in Council at Fort Marlborough, with his wife and family travelled to China as passengers in the Duke of Clarence.
The safe return of Captain Relph and Mr, Risdon, who had arrived at Calcutta in the previous August , was the source of much congratulation to Hayes’s friends there, for no news of him had been received since his departure, and the long silence had caused them great anxiety.
Captain Relph lost no time in presenting the despatches entrusted to his care by his chief. Of these the most important was Captain Hayes’s petition to the East India Company praying that the Honourable Company would extend its protection to the infant colony, that it would further the objects of discovery, and that it would indemnify the promoters of the expedition for the expenses incurred by them in connection with the voyage. A similar petition from the two merchants, Messrs. Frushard and Laprimaudaye, was also sent to the East India Company.
The signature of Mr. Udney, one of the the three original merchant-promoters, is absent from this document. Probably he was then no longer alive, for we find the death of a Mr. Udney recorded as having taken place at Calcutta in 1794, while he and his wife were attempting to cross the river. The fact that a friend who accompanied them and was saved, was named Laprimaudaye, makes it appear likely that the deceased was no other than Hayes’s partner.
The petitions were duly laid before the Council at a meeting held on November 7th. There were present at it, Sir John Shore, Governor in Council, Mr. Peter Speke, and Mr. William Cowper. In addition to the petitions, charts were also submitted showing the situation of New Albion, of Restoration Bay, and of the small adjacent islands, together with minute descriptions of the products of New Guinea in order to show the riches of the country.
After drawing attention to the various other documents that had been presented to him, Sir John Shore addressed the Council. In his speech, recorded in the Minutes of the East India Company, there is an able argument for and against the desirability of taking over the New Guinea Settlement.
Sir John made the following observations:—
“The address from Messrs. Frushard and Laprimaudaye, dated 31st ultimo recorded on the 7th instant on the subject of a voyage to New Guinea, and stating supposed discoveries of a valuable nature, remains for consideration. In addition to it I lay before the Council a letter from Mr. J. Hayes, who commanded the ships employed on the voyage, with several papers which accompanied it. In these papers the Board have before them the description of a tract of country in the Eastern Seas, held forth as an object of great commercial importance to the Company and to the nation.”
“The expedition was proposed by two private merchants who are subscribers to it, and the execution of it was committed to Captain Hayes of the Bombay Marine.
The Board will observe that he considers the harbour of New Guinea which he has employed, and the existence of spices there, as new discoveries, without knowing that the spot, as I shall more particularly notice hereafter, was visited by Captain Thomas Forrest, and the island by Monsieur Sonnerat.
Captain Hayes has formally taken possession of the harbour, and has left several Europeans in charge of it. The merchants, at whose expense this expedition was primarily undertaken, have applied to us for assistance in promoting its objects and for an indemnification and reward equivalent to the expense and importance of the supposed discoveries.”
“I shall proceed first with a very brief account of the voyage of Captain T. Forrest to the very spot described by Captain Hayes under the name of Restoration Bay in New Guinea, or, as he chooses to call it, New Albion.”
Sir John then remarked that Forrest had found the nutmeg growing upon Manaswary, or King George’s Island, and described to the Council how, having placed Hayes’s maps and charts side by side with those of Forrest, he had come to the conclusion that Dorey Bay was undoubtedly the same as that which Hayes had called Restoration Bay.
In continuing his speech, Sir John expressed his opinion very decidedly regarding the actual position of the place which Hayes had visited.
“No doubt can possibly remain after comparing Captain Forrest’s map of Dorey Harbour with that of Captain Hayes as to the identity of the spot visited by both.”
“I don’t see that the possession of a settlement at Restoration Bay would essentially promote the commercial interests of the Nation and of the Company. . . . That in these respects some advantages might ensue is probable, and some of the objects might be realised by encouraging Chinese settlers to form a colony there, but the protection of the infant colony would require a considerable military establishment, and after all, unless we were certain of some returns for the market of Europe, the balance would be finally against the Company. Neither do we at present know sufficient of the disposition of the inhabitants of the interior parts of the island and how far they would countenance or oppose a settlement. It is certain that the advantages derived by the Dutch from their spice trade would diminsh in proportion to the augmentation of our profits . . . the wisdom of the policy which would produce this effect is to me doubtful, and I cannot recommend any attempt towards it.”
“… considering all the circumstances, the distance of the spot from this Government, the difficulty of protecting it in time of war and of furnishing it with supplies at all times, the situation of affairs in Europe, the certainty of considerable expense at the outset, and the probable continuance of it for a long time, I am of opinion that we should not be justified in complying with the requests of Messrs. Frushard and Laprimaudaye by prosecuting the establishment of a settlement at New Guinea on the Company’s account.”21
The Council’s decision was made known to the merchants in a very brief reply, although more than one conference took place between the members of the Council in which the merits of Hayes’s scheme were discussed. …
Forrest, like Hayes, was in the East India Company’s service. Unlike Hayes, However, he travelled to New Guinea in the capacity of a servant of the company. His voyage, therefore, robbed Hayes of his chance of gaining the recognition of the East India Company for his achievements, though it is interesting that the two men who best deserve the title of English Pioneers of New Guinea, should both have anchored in Dorey Bay.
The final decision of the Governor and Council not to take over the New Guinea establishment, although a severe disappointment to Messrs. Frushard and Laprimaudaye, was a much greater one to Captain Hayes. He had successfully accomplished the voyage whose responsibilities and privations had injured his health, only to find that the return he coveted most was denied to him. For even if he had gained the experience which helped him in his later career, at this time his adventures must have seemed to him to have ended in failure. We are told that it was profitable to the speculators who financed it, but no monetary reward could have compensated Hayes for the lack of recognition as a discoverer.
Throughout, the commercial side of his enterprise does not seem to have appealed to him in anything like the same degree as those higher ambitions which have inspired every great navigator since the days of Prince Henry of Portugal. As far as his explorations in the Pacific are concerned, few navigators have accomplished so much and been honoured so little.
After Hayes had left Dorey, the fortunes of the colonists gradually drifted from bad to worse. Had Hayes remained there a little longer, indeed, he might have modified the glowing language in which his petition painted the natural advantages of the country. Each day the store of provisions dwindled, and as the rainy season set in the climate grew less healthy, while Court’s responsibilities increased. Several of his people died. To add to his anxieties, shortly after Hayes’s departure, part of the garrison was attacked by natives in the Papuan quarter, and some of those taken prisoners were sent to Ceram, where they were sold as slaves. The captives were mostly Papuans in Court’s employment, but with them went two Sepoys, who afterwards gave an account of their stay at Dorey to the Dutch authorities, which was preserved among the Dutch records at Batavia …
It will be remembered that Hayes had left only thirteen Europeans and eleven Lascars and Sepoys with Court, so that the loss even of a single man was a very serious matter. The little band of seamen, however, showed splendid resolution under the difficulties with which they were confronted, and continued to work daily at the factory in order to collect a sufficient cargo for the ship which was expected from India. Their patience was destined to be sorely tried. Days lengthened to weeks, and weeks to months, and a year passed without any sign of the coming of an English ship.
John McCluer gives March 20th, 1795, as the date of his departure from New Guinea on [a later] occasion. The English ship Success also reported at Calcutta that the Venus barque, Captain McCluer, spoke “the ship Helen, Captain Seton, from Bombay bound to China, in latitude 3° S. and longitude 132° E., all on board well.” The Venus informed the Commander of the Helen that she had left Restoration Bay in March 20th, 1795, and that up to the time of her arrival the colony had received no supplies.
McCluer’s coming seems to have set the starving colonists on their feet again: and doubtless he did all in his power to render the Duchess seaworthy before he finally said good-bye to his countrymen.
About two months later Captain Risdon arrived at Dorey from India in the Duke of Clarence, having taken command of that ship in December, 1794, after Hayes had left her. As soon as the unloading of her cargo at Calcutta had been completed, she had been provisioned and had sailed almost immediately to carry the promised relief to the New Guinea settlement. Risdon was placed in command of her because the period of leave granted to Hayes had expired, and he was compelled to hold himself in readiness to rejoin the Bombay Marine. But Messrs. Frushard and Laprimaudaye were still her owners. As the Duke of Clarence was leaving Calcutta22 she parted from her anchors off the new fort and drifted ashore near the water gate. Fortunately, the ground proving soft and the weather moderate, she was got off without danger and continued her passage to Fort Coronation.
There appears to be no record of the exact date of Risdon’s coming to New Guinea, but it was probably in May, 1795. He put into various ports on his outward voyage, but before he returned to India the Dutch were at war with England.
We learn from Lander’s examination23 held at Amboyna on April 24th, 1798, probably the only record extant which gives direct information of the departure of the English expedition from New Guinea, that Nooko’s invitation was accepted.24 Lander relates that after the departure of Captain Hayes from Dorey he became chief officer of the Duchess, under Captain Court, and that he “remained at Dorey 21 months altogether”. As he had arrived there with Hayes on September 18th, 1793, this fixes the date of his departure as about the middle of June, 1795. Lander continues: “From Dorey after the return of Risdon from Calcutta we proceeded to Wauroo, on the eastern side of Ceram, by the invitation of Sultan Nooko, and remained there about six weeks. From thence we went to Gabee (Geby) accompanied by the Sultan with his ship Duke of Clarence, and the snow Duchess. We remained at Gabee about a month, and from there the Duke of Clarence went to Bengal with letters from the Sultan to the Bengal Government, and carried two natives of Tidore thither, leaving the Duchess to guard the Sultan Nooko.” At this time Lander became commander of the Duchess, Captain Court having taken charge of another vessel.
On his journey back to Calcutta, Captain Risdon arrived at Penang on Saturday, October 17th. Two British men-of-war were at anchor in the harbour, H.M.S. Resistance, 44 guns, Captain Edward Pakenham, and H.M.S. Orpheus, frigate, 32 guns, Captain Newcome, and the commanders of these, as well as making use of the traveller from New Guinea, lent him a friendly hand. Five French prisoners of war were placed by them on board the Duke of Clarence, and, in order that the accommodation should be mutual, carpenters from the Orpheus were sent to repair her. Risdon left Penang on October the 27th25 and reached Calcutta a month later. The Madras Courier26 records his arrival, and observes:— “The discoveries of Captain Hayes at New Guinea and other places are . . . likely to prove of great national importance. The ship Duke of Clarence, lately arrived at Calcutta from the Spice Islands, discovered by Captain Hayes, has brought a cargo of immense value. It consists of all the spices which are in the highest estimation throughout India, Persia, and Arabia, and which now being scarce in the markets of Europe, have risen in price beyond the precedent of former ages. A letter from Penang, where the Duke of Clarence touched on her passage to Bengal, says, that however great may have been the expense of this laudable expedition the proprietors will find ample remuneration in their present valuable cargo. Three native princes of the islands are passengers on the Duke of Clarence for Bengal, where they mean to tender homage and implore the protection of the British Government. Captain Court remains at Restoration Bay collecting a second cargo.” This is important testimony to the results of the entire voyage of Captain Hayes, which his contemporaries evidently regarded as a paying speculation.
Nooko’s envoys, brought to India by Risdon in the Duke of Clarence, were very well received by the Governor-General, who sent presents to Nooko, although no promises of assistance were given him. Captain Risdon afterwards took the envoys back to Geby, where Lander awaited his arrival.
Lander further relates: “I remained at Gabee (Geby) eight months from the time the Duke of Clarence sailed until her return, then finding the vessel I commanded was not fit for service, she was burnt.” This, then, was the end of Hayes’s ship the Duchess, of which, as has been said above, Lander had been left in command to guard Nooko during Risdon’s absence.
On Risdon’s return from Bengal the three ships—the Duke of Clarence, the Phoenix, under Stewart, and the Sultan, under Court—proceeded to Mauba on the north-east coast of Halmaheira, in Gilolo. Lander explored different parts of the island, in which he found round nutmegs and other spices growing there. A short time afterwards he quitted the employment of Messrs. Frushard and Laprimaudaye, and entered that of Mr. William Fairlie, a Bengal merchant. Meanwhile, Risdon made several voyages to the Spice Islands, and Indian newspapers record the dates of his sailing and returning. He left Calcutta for the third time in the Duke of Clarence on December 7th, 1796.27
During 1797 two English vessels carried Sultan Nooko to Mauba in Gilolo, where he recruited his forces and sailed in company with the English vessels to Tidore. He routed the Sultan whom the Dutch had set on his father’s throne, and took possession of the island. It seems likely that one of these ships was the Duke of Clarence, for we find Risdon, in 1798, in that ship under the Fort of Ternate.
On this occasion Risdon, who was accompanied by the schooner Experiment, surprised and captured under the guns of the fort a Dutch cruiser, The Banda’s Welvaren, of twenty-two guns (nine and six-pounders), having on board thirty European soldiers and fifty Javanese sailors, exclusive of officers. The fort itself, however, successfully resisted every attempt to take it. Risdon carried his prize and prisoners to Amboyna, which, together with Banda and Timor, had already fallen into the hands of the English. It may be mentioned that the Duke of Clarence, when she took the Dutch cruiser, mounted only fourteen guns and was very poorly manned. She afterwards carried her prize to Calcutta, where she arrived on September 2nd, 1798.28
The Duke of Clarence is recorded as having commenced another voyage to New Guinea in the following November, the last under Risdon’s command having apparently taken place in 1800–1801, for she arrived at Calcutta on May 28th of the latter year. It is impossible to ascertain whether plantations of the nutmeg and missoy were kept in cultivation at Restoration Bay up to this period, but it seems certain that English ships continued to trade with New Guinea until May, 1801.29
The Duke of Clarence was wrecked shortly after Risdon gave up his command of her. In August, 1801, when in charge of Captain Townsend, she struck upon the edge of the Sumatra Sand, Calcutta, and was totally lost. Meanwhile, Risdon had been appointed captain of the ship Anna, which sailed for England in December of that year.30
The foregoing passages summarise the information obtainable from surviving records at the India Office concerning the ships and officers of Hayes’s expedition after he himself had severed his connection with the settlement at Restoration Bay. [Unfortunately, there is no information as to William Bellamy Risdon’s subsequent career, after he returned to England. A search of the 1845 East-India Register and Army List (which included earlier years) did not return a William Bellamy Risdon, but the index list of Proprietors of East India Stock did show a Benjamin Risdon of Gray’s inn-lane [sic].31 WB was not in any of the indexes at the back, including the military, the civil, or the list of retired officers (Bengal, Bombay & Madras Establishment); nor was he to be found among the members of the Marine Board or the Indian Navy List.]