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27 June, 1847 - Letter from Etienne Chaurain to Jean-Claude Colin

Translated by Mary Williamson, May 2010.

Based on the document sent APM OP 458 Pro-procuratores.

Sheaf of 4 written pages.


Sydney, 27 June, 1847.

My Very Reverend Father,
I recall having told you in my letter of 16th of this month that the French brigantine the Anonyme had left the mission in New Caledonia (where it had been made available for their use by M. Marceau) to return as speedily as possible to Sydney for repairs. I also told you that the cost of repairs had been estimated, at first appraisal, at £400 or more. M. Joubert and Mr. Murphy, (up till now co-signatories for the French Society in Sydney), had not been authorised by M. Marceau to advance this money and made a request to me for the payment of these costs. When they first approached me, I felt obliged to reply that, much as I would dearly like to be able to oblige the French Society in this way, I had, for the moment, neither the funds nor the necessary authorisation to accede to their wishes.
But what do you think happened? I found out, (only two days after having written to you about it) that M. Joubert and Mr. Murphy refused to advance the necessary funds for the repairs to the Anonyme unless the Captain agreed to putting his ship at their disposal until such time as the sum advanced was fully repaid. They wanted nothing less than to send her first to Tahiti with a cargo of flour, so as to earn a good sum for her freight, then to send her who knows where.
But then, what was going to become of Bishop Collomb who, immediately after having been consecrated in New Zealand, was required to go to New Caledonia. He had M. Marceau’s authorisation to make use of the Anonyme (which he certainly expected to find there), to transport him to the mission. It had even been agreed upon between M. Marceau and Bishop Collomb, that the amount to be paid by the Lord Bishop, for each month that he retained the vessel for his use, would be £72, or 1800 fr. The Spec would only transport Bishop Collomb as far as New Caledonia, where he would disembark at Balade with all his belongings.
I knew on the one hand how important it was for Bishop Collomb to get to his mission without delay, but I could see on the other hand that he was going to be obliged to spend a lengthy period of time, at least 8-10 months, in New Caledonia, because of the lack of any means of transport.
As well, it seemed certain that the Lord Bishop, on hearing about the problems which had forced the ship to leave New Caledonia, would be impatiently awaiting its return, as soon as the repairs were completed in Sydney. The Lord Bishop, who knew that we had been witnesses to the covenant that he had agreed to with M. Marceau regarding this ship, would certainly expect us to do everything in our power to see that it was returned to him as soon as possible; the Rev. Father Rougeyron was also depending on the next visit of the Anonyme to his mission, as his letters are all concerned with lists of goods to be sent to him on this same ship. But as I have already told you, the cost of the repairs must be paid, and apart from the sum of £400 – which needed to be paid in advance, there was also now a matter of £700 sterling – because the sailors had just been granted authorisation, from the French consul, to have their wages paid.
At first I said that I could not possibly allow this ship, chartered by Bishop Collomb, to be used for any other purpose than that intended by M. Marceau himself, that is to say, to transport Bishop Collomb to his destination. But their response came back very promptly: “Then you must advance the money for the repairs to this ship”. I then said that I would agree to advance half of it with a draft from Lyon on the account of Bishop Collomb, but from half I had to agree to the full amount. These gentlemen continued to refuse the smaller advance, so I was forced to consent to draw two drafts on the account of the widow Mme Guerin and sons; there will be one for £400 sterling and another for £300 – I thought it would help you to honour the drafts if I divided up the full amount. They will be payable only from 30 to 80 days from presentation.
From then on the ship will be at the disposal of Bishop Collomb and his mission. The captain will undertake to leave her in the service of the Lord Bishop for as long as is required, whether it be to visit the curacy of Melanesia, or to found new settlements; that is to say Bishop Collomb or his representative will make use of this ship and its crew as if they were his own, until such time as other arrangements are made with M. Marceau.
This is a situation I have been forced into despite my hearty dislike of drafts. I know that they can sometimes produce nasty surprises !!!
I do not think there is any need to draw your attention to the fact that these two drafts are separate from the £400 draft that we are authorised to draw on behalf of Bishop Douarre, on the account of the widow Mme Guerin.
I would certainly have wished that the actioning of these drafts could have been spread out somewhat, but the circumstances are such that I am afraid I will be obliged to draw on them all at about the same time – they have all been dictated by the arrival of this ship. Her repairs and cargo of goods for Fr Rougeyron raise the total sum expended to £1,100 sterling – and require simultaneous payment.
I forgot to say that we checked on whether it would be less expensive for Bishop Collomb if we hired him a ship in Sydney and sent it immediately to his aid in New Caledonia. Ships were in such short supply at the time that it was impossible to find one, no matter how small, which was not asking at least £200 per month. As Bishop Collomb would have been needing it for at least 5-6 months, his costs would have been £1,000 to £1,200 sterling.
It was better then, to make the monetary advance in question and to not only help Bishop Collomb, but also oblige the very praiseworthy French Society.
If I dared, Very Reverend Father, after all the troubles we have caused you, to ask you a few more favours, I would beseech you to send us, as soon as possible, two Brothers for gardening and care of the vineyard; the cost of labourers by the day is very high here; that is 5 shillings for basic workers. The property we have bought can only bring us some return if we cultivate it.
We would also not be unhappy to receive some expenses for masses.
I will send this letter in duplicate by another ship, which will be leaving right away.[1]
Please grant me my Very Reverend Father,
a small place in your prayers
and those of the Society,
Your respectful Son,


  1. The duplicate bears the date 30th June, 1847

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