National Archives, Kew CO48/43, 483
Gairloch by Cromarty
2 November 1819
I take the liberty of addressing your Lordship respecting the English colony about to be established at the Cape of Good Hope. But, conceiving the two subjects most materially connected, I request your Lordship's attention to the following detail of my military service. I had the honour of serving his Majesty in the Surrey Fencible Cavalry, from their first formation till they were disembodied in the year 1800. I was then placed on half pay, in which condition I have hitherto continued, his Majesty not requiring my active service. But I beg leave to mention to your Lordship that in the interim by no means lost sight of what I considered the good of my country, having successfully exerted myself in persuading several gentlemen to form, and become members of, a Corps called the "The Forfarshire Sharp Shooters", which served from 1803 till 1808, when they were incorporated with "Western Regiment of Forfarshire Local Militia", in which I still remain. My commissions to both these [illegible] I herewith enclose for your Lordship's satisfaction.
I think it also proper, from the consideration of the peninsular situation of the Cape rendering it favourable for a fishing station, to state to your Lordship, that, while I remained in the county of Forfar, I held very extensive salmon fishings in the River Tay, and sent annually upwards of fifteen thousand pounds worth of fresh and pickled salmon to the London Market. As the mode of fishing I adopted was by stake nets, the decision by the Lord Chancellor in 1816, confining such fishings to the sea and estuaries, has unfortunately thrown me entirely out of employment. When I mention to your Lordship that I have no fewer than nine children who all look to me for support, I am certain your Lordship's well-known benevolence of character, be disposed to commend my endeavours to get myself as early as possible put into a way of being serviceable to them. Were I thereby not presuming on too great freedom with your Lordship, I might mention that I had the misfortune to lose my eldest son, in circumstances peculiarly distressing. He went out as an Admiralty midshipman in his Majesty's ship Minden*, and was wounded in the gunboat No.23 at the attack of Algiers, and died at [Inversmall], three days before his commission as a lieutenant arrived from England as a reward for his service in the above attack. Since I have been in this country I have held fishings in the Cromarty and Sutherland Firths, and should your Lordship be graciously disposed to favour my views of proceeding to the Cape of Good Hope, I could take out with me, as settlers, upwards of a hundred of as brave loyal Highlanders as ever fought at the battle of Waterloo, and would find myself enabled to raise the sum of money Government requires. In conclusion I hope your Lordship will forgive me for requesting your Lordship's advice & instruction, how I should proceed, and that if any military are required for the settlement I shall not be overlooked by your Lordship. For my character I beg leave to refer your Lordship to General Sir Francis WILDER, 23 Grosvenor Place in Scotland, to Lord DOUGLAS, James GUTHRIE Esq deputy lieutenant of the county of Forfar, Colonel [REDDISH], Do., General HUNTER of Burnside,Do., General Kenneth MACKENZIE, Alexander M GUTHRIE late Colonel of the Forfarshire Sharp Shooters.
I have the honour to be with the greatest respect
Your Lordship's most obedient humble serv't
*[transcriber's note: It was on the deck of the same HMS Minden in 1814 that Frances Scott KEY penned the words to “The Star Spangled Banner” – HMS Minden was a truce ship of the British fleet in Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore during the shelling of Fort McHenry]