# 41913

[HOWE, George 1769-1821, printer]; [BLAXCELL, Garnham 1778-1817]; [JAMES, Joseph]; BENT, Ellis 1783-1815; FOSTER, James

Notice of protest form lodged on behalf of Joseph James against Garnham Blaxcell for a dishonoured promissory note; signed by Ellis Bent, Judge Advocate. Sydney, 1813.

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[Sydney, NSW : 16 August, 1813]. Small folio bifolium (250 x 200 mm), laid paper watermarked W. SHARP 1810; the first side contains a pro forma legal document printed in letterpress by George Howe, with manuscript entries in a clerical hand recording Judge Advocate of New South Wales Ellis Bent’s protest on behalf of Captain Joseph James, merchant, against Garnham Blaxcell for a dishonoured £250 promissory note dated 13 July 1812, which had been payable ‘in good Government Bills’ before 24 September 1812, and so consequently was now almost a year overdue; signed by Ellis Bent as Judge Advocate and James Foster, Clerk; the third side with a manuscript copy of the original promissory note; second and fourth sides blank; water staining at fore-edges, partially affecting (though not completely obscuring) the ends of the lines of printed text and manuscript; otherwise clean and legible, with two old horizontal folds.

A very early Sydney legal document.

The Powerhouse Museum holds a second copy of the present notice of protest form (with the same date of 16 August 1813), which it attributes to the printer George Howe (Object 96/332/2). It also holds a dishonoured promissory note for £250 signed by Blaxcell to James, dated 24 June 1812 (Object 96/332/1).

The Powerhouse Museum’s description of Blaxcell’s dishonoured promissory note succintly illuminates the background to Blaxcell’s ongoing financial predicament:

‘Garnham Blaxcell, with Alexander Riley and D’arcy Wentworth, was contracted to build the ‘Rum Hospital’. A part of the contract gave these leading men of the colony a supposed monopoly on rum importation. Much to their cost however, Governor Macquarie gave government consent to the continued competitive importation and selling of rum. Protests to this arrangement from Blaxcell and his partners did little to dissuade Macquarie and the profits they hoped to gain from market demand on their rum were diluted by the competition. This dishonoured promissory note (and accompanying notice of protest form) is one example of Blaxcell’s gradual decline into financial ruin.’ (Powerhouse Museum)

‘Realising that the Crown was preparing to recover debts through the Supreme Court, Blaxcell left for England on 9 April 1817, but died at Batavia on 3 October 1817, his debts unpaid.’ (ADB)