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Joshua Thorp

Arrived: 1838
Country of origin: Australia- NSW
Area in New Zealand: Govt Surveyor
Source: website- Paperspast

Joshua Thorpe 1796-1862) had originally settled in Australia. He visited and selected some land at Te Kouma Coromandel. His family of seven children and his wife followed the next year. He then negotiated with Maoris for a block of land up the Waihou River near what is Paeroa where he established a farm which he called 'Belmont'. Wishing to be nearer to Auckland he bought land at Clevedon where the family home was established which he called 'Beckby'. The Clevedon Church, vicarage and what is now left of the Redoubt are all on this land. Four more children were born up to 1853. (Maurice Lennard).

Daily Southern Cross, Volume I, Issue 20, 2 September 1843, Page 3; Joshua talks about his move from NSW to New Zealand. This is an important issue raised.
Mr. Thorp's Letter to Lord Stanley.

River Thames, New Zealand, August 22nd, 1843.
My Lord, The present state of New Zealand, and my interest therein as a settler, are the motives for writing this letter. I visited this country nearly five years ago, and purchased some land, after which I returned to Sydney, disposed of most of my property there, and came with my wife, family, some horses and cattle to settle. Shortly after that, Governor Hobson formed the town of Auckland on an arm of the frith of the Thames soon afterwards came into operation tho act called by your Lordship's name, the pound-an-acre-act." This, and the vexatious delays about settling land claims, stopped the progress of the Colony, which has ever since been retrograde. Emigrants with capital have arrived, it is true, and labourers, but most of the former have, gone away, and the latter for want of employers, would have gone also, had they the means, or knew where to go to.

From what I first saw of New Zealand, and what I now know, I have concluded it to be well adapted for moderate colonization, allowing settlers to select the most favorable situation to purchase of the natives, or of the government at a cheap rate. A pound an acre is a prohibitory price government has sold no land at that rate, except a few patches near Auckland, too limited for the general purposes of farming. The principle of selling waste lands at a pound an acre, instead of five shillings, (their maximum value all over the world) has arisen, I believe, from some fanciful theories of making a Colony support itself, by exacting a high price for land, to compel the concentration of settlers, to expend half the proceeds in deporting labourers for their use, to restrict them from leaving the market, and to force what may be termed a precocious maturity of society. But, would not two pounds an acre have answered these laudable designs of concentration and labour much better, as it would also have afforded the settlers a supply of cheap cattle. No doubt it might, if they could easily expend such a large proportion of their means at the commencement. Prudent settlers, however, begin with few men, and few cattle, increasing both as their supply of food, &c, increases. The most successful cultivator of the soil in New South Wales, is a gentleman who set himself down on a two thousand acre grant with one labourer. He worked hard it is true, and I remember him showing me how horny his hands had become with felling trees. He was long called the one man settler by those around, who kept numbers of men, but he realised a fortune of fifty thousand pounds, while they sunk what they had.

The Americans, who are a calculating people, do not ask four times the value of their waste lands in order to purchase labour for the settlers, and yet their colonies are flourishing, and self-supporting. The favorite illustration of the theorists I have alluded to, of transplanting a community like a full-grown tree, as though the possibility of doing so with a tree afforded a practical inference that a community might be removed from England to the Antipodes, and live as it did before. It is very certain that man can make a town, but nature, through the progressive change of seasons is required to make a country. It takes three or four years to raise a supply of bread from the sourness of wild land, and also from delays which might neither be anticipated, nor controlled.

I emigrated to New South Wales about twenty years ago, and though I was there half the time Engineer, or Superintendent of Public Works, yet, during the rest, I was chiefly occupied as a settler I have had, therefore, some experience in the matter. The frequent droughts of New South Wales caused me to leave it to follow the pursuits of agriculture in this country. By so doing, however, I had no expectation that I and my family of sons and daughters, should hermitize for many years. But, My Lord, your Act will compel us to do so, if it continue in force. There are a number of gentlemen similarly situated as myself, though not residing so far in the interior, who have staked too much property in the country to be able to leave it. The town of Auckland is nearly half deserted, and the rest of the inhabitants remain there chiefly in the hope that a new Governor will relieve the colony. I have no such hope, unless he bring the power of reducing the price of land, or of allowing settlers to purchase of the natives, under certain conditions. 

Your Lordship is aware that New Zealand is not like New South Wales, inasmuch as the natives have a special ownership in the land, are freeholders of definite limits and the land too, is not covered with grass and open forests, fit for grazing or ploughing but with fern, and flax, and forests, with dense underwood. If a man has to give £1,000, or £2,000 for a location, the domiciliating himself upon it, clearing, draining, fencing, and delays, will cost him as much move. Few emigrants of discretion are able, or willing, to sink three or four thousand pounds at once. Indeed, emigrants of capital are not the men who chiefly advance a colony, for we commonly see them sanguine, confident, imprudent, and ruined. It was men of small capital who principally improved the grants of New South Wales. Such men, My Lord, will not be able to farm in this country, while there is a pound an acre before their eyes. 


An official gentleman of the present administration, has informed me, that the Government finds it impracticable to buy any land of the natives but the worst parts, such as are swampy, or destitute of fire-wood, or inaccessible. They will not sell their land without obtaining its full value. Had the Mowries (natives) the acknowledged right of selling their lands to individuals who located- on their purchases, there would not have been such horrid massacres as have lately occurred, north and south of this place about land, at Manganui, between the natives, and at Port Nicholson, of 19 whites by them. Some emigrants contemplate leasing out cattle to the natives, where there are favorable runs, for one third of the increase thus buying no land, and merely using the colony for grazing stations. From this, and other reasons, I am willing to hope that Your Lordship will take into consideration the expediency of advising the revision, or suspension, of the pound-an-acre-Act," at least as regards this colony.

An additional motive might be urged of the financial condition of the Government, of which there is no prospect of improvement. The colony is also without an export. I have not adverted to the New Zealand Company's settlements at Port Nicholson and elsewhere, but their present state, truly depicted, would afford further evidence in support of what is here advanced. The Company's block of land at Port Nicholson would have been dear at one shilling per acre consisting of abrupt sombre hills, enclosing a bay of storms. In a work emanating from them, it was said to remind you of the Bay of Naples but having seen the former, and having also often looked at the latter in all its calm magnificence of twilight enchantment, the contrast is as Hyperion to a Satyr." Such overwrought statements, and the high price of land have contributed to fill this colony with distress. 

One sees everywhere, during the last three years, respectable young men wasting their time, and their means with which they thought here to eke out a comfortable living by industry and also, gentlemen of property, some formerly holding commissions in the army or navy, now reduced since they came hither, to the meanest and most scanty apparel. They all have hoped that there might be some change for the better. Englishmen, My Lord, will undergo any toil, and suffer any privation, to obtain an independent livelihood but they have had no chance here. The Natives also, suffer in the general depression, being no longer able to get the same articles of luxury, or rather of necessity, as formerly. New Zealand, therefore, i remains a savage land with a fertile climate, and abundance of soil suitable for cultivation there is still very little of it exhibiting the cheering marks of industry. 

I have written this letter to your Lordship, not only because of your high official station, but because you are regarded in these colonies as a statesman of honor and independence one who, notwithstanding his former opinion, will not disdain to listen to an appeal against it, and use his influence, if it seem right, for obtaining measures that may be more conclusive to justice and humanity. I have the honor to be, My Lord, Your Lordship's most obedt. hble. servant, Joshua Thorp. Right Honorable Lord Stanley, Principal Secretary of State •for the Colonies, &c, &c, &c.J 

The remarks of Mr Thorp on the condition of the colony are worthy of much credit. Mr. Thorp is a highly respectable person and an old colonist, he has resided many years in N. S. Wales, and held responsible appointments under Government. He was at one time Superintendant of Public Works and Town Surveyor of Sydney, when, we understand, Mr. Felton Mathew served under him, and it was doubtless on this very account that he was deemed competent to discharge the duties of Surveyor General of New Zealand. The fact of Mr. Thorp after visiting New Zealand having removed to this country with his wife and family, shows his decided opinion of the natural superiority of this country over New South Wales, and shows clearly that he attaches to this Government and not to the Colony the blame for all the evil suffered by himself and the other settlers. 
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