FRIEND, Mary Anne (1800-1838). Autograph manuscript journal of a voyage with her husband, Matthew Curling Friend, on the Wanstead to Hobart via Madeira, Bahia, Cape of Good Hope and Western Australia, returning via Singapore, Penang, Burma and and Ascension Island, 14 August 1829 - 12 June 1831, illustrated with 37 watercolours on paper and rice paper, INCLUDING THREE VIEWS OF FREMANTLE IN THE FIRST YEAR OF ITS FOUNDATION, and two maps of the Swan River settlements, comprising a 'Chart of the Swan, Canning, Murray and Leschenault Rivers' and a further chart of the 'River Leischnault' [sic]
approximately 134 leaves, oblong folio (207 x 275mm), blanks, the drawings sometimes loosely mounted on inserted leaves, others mounted on the pages of the album with strips of blue paper, a few drawn directly on the leaves of the album (the drawings on rice paper often split, occasionally fragmentary, a number of additional drawings excised or lacking), contemporary green morocco (heavily worn, covers and spine detached) Provenance: presentation inscription signed by Mary Anne Friend to her sister, Maria Cosgreave on p.6; the presentation may not have been effectuated, or the journal was evidently subsequently returned to the Friend family, through which it has since passed by descent.
1. [Entrance to the Swan River]
2. [Cargo of the Wanstead being unloaded, likely on 'Bathers Beach', Fremantle]
3. [View of Fremantle, likely from Arthur Head, looking east]
4. 'Jones. A pet magpie from Hobarton. Highly talented' (on rice paper) 5. 'Murrays Island. Torres Straits'
6. 'Coupang. Island of Timor'
7. 'Prince of Wales Island or Pulo Penang'
8. 'Golden Mountain of Acheu. Seen from Pedir'
9. 'Chowra. Island of Nicobar'
10. 'Car Nicobar'
11. untitled. Birds (rice paper, fragmentary)
13. 'Gaudma. Burmese God'
14. 'Gaudma's House'
15. 'Colossal Figure at the entrance of the Pagoda meant to represent a Lion'
16. 'Small Bell at the Tsoliah Pagoda'
17. 'Dee Pine e ah and the two Guadmas'
18. 'Tsoliah Pagoda'
19. 'Burmese House' (on rice paper)
20. 'Great Bell at the Dagon Pagoda' (rice paper, fragmentary)
21. 'Colossal Figure at the corner of the Dagon Pagoda'
22. 'Colossal Figure at the Dagon Pagoda Cups in which the offerings are placed'
23. 'Teo or Umbrella placed on the top of the Dagon Pagoda about 240 feet in circumference'
24. untitled. Flower
25. 'Part of the Gateway leading to the Dagon Pagoda' (pencil only)
26. 'Small private Pagoda'
27. 'Butterfly caught at Rangoon' (rice paper)
28. 'Ky Woongu. The second Man in the Burman Kingdom during the War. from an original sketch taken by an English Officer'
29-31. untitled. Flowers (rice paper, fragmentary)
32. untitled. Rangoon (a second version of no.12)
33. untitled. Burmese costumes (rice paper, fragmentary)
34. untitled. An ?Indian woman carrying a pot (rice paper, fragmentary) 35. untitled. An Indian woman drawing water (rice paper, split)
36. untitled. Flower (rice paper, losses)
37. untitled. A temple
Mary Anne Friend was one of the earliest artists to visit the Swan River colony after its acquisition by the British in 1829. Others had depicted the region's landscape before her, and published their result: a handful of images of the Swan River were recorded by European artists prior to Governor Stirling's arrival in June 1829, including François Valentijn's unlikely sketch of 1696; others captured scenes of Fremantle in the months which followed the arrival of Stirling's Parmelia and other migrant vessels. Robert Dale, most notably, sketched a sympathetic portrait of Fremantle, looking west, which suggested the town was favoured by a soft and verdant landscape.
Unlike Dale, however, Friend's watercolours of 1830 realistically show Fremantle in its infancy. Her lithograph 'View at Swan-River. Sketch of the Encampment of Matw. Curling Friend, Esqr. R.N. Taken on the Spot & Drawn on Stone by Mrs M.C.F., March 1830' (SLNSW, SV5B/Swan R/4), published c.1832 on her return to London, shows a dry and sandy landscape, trees which have been stripped for fuel and building materials, and the primitive tents in which most of the migrants first sheltered. Its impact was so significant that, combined with poor reports reaching London of the conditions at Swan River, British emigration to Western Australia almost ceased entirely until mid century. Friend's other watercolours, until now undiscovered in her journal, add to our knowledge of Fremantle's earliest weeks as a British town: those first homes constructed, the striped tents scattered over the west end, the difficulty of unloading precious cargo and the challenges of the Swan River's harsh environment. They are seemingly the earliest views of the settlement proper, dating to February-March 1830. Although Jane Eliza Currie arrived earlier on the Parmelia, her panorama (SLNSW, ML827) was probably not begun until June 1830 when she moved from Garden Island to Crawley Bay, and not completed until August 1832. Otherwise, Captain Willis, whose Cruizer (sent to the Swan to relieve HMS Success which had run aground on Carnac Island) arrived on 17 January 1830, a couple of weeks ahead of the Wanstead, has left a sketch of his boat camp at the Swan river in 1830 (Sotheby's, London, 23 Oct. 1991, lot 299). Views of the locality by her fellow passengers on the Wanstead include the romanticised little woodblock which illustrates Jane Roberts' Two Years at Sea (1834) and Charles Dirk Wittenoom's Sketch of the town of Perth from Perth Water, Western Australia, the first view of Perth taken from Mount Eliza (Christie's South Kensington, 28 May 1987, lot 218).
The two charts ('of the Swan, Canning, Murray and Leschenault Rivers' and 'River Leischenault') in the journal are presumably by or after surveys made by 'the exploring party of the south' mentioned by Friend in her journal, 'on which so much depended the fate of the colony' and who gave a tolerable good report of the land at the river Leischenault: 'they say it is much better than at the Swan and that the river is navigable.' The first with its numbered key to the topography of sites around the mouth of the Swan, includes new information, confirming the actual site of 'Mr Peel's Establishment', and the second is probably included as it surveys an area where Matthew Friend was encouraged to take up a land grant.
Mary Anne Friend's watercolours are complemented by her detailed description of her stay at the Swan River settlements (pp.23-50), between 30 January and 19 March 1830, which capture life on this British frontier in the very earliest months of its existence. Their ship the Wanstead arrives off Fremantle in rough weather, and the journal records her first impressions of the entrance to the Swan River ('much disappointed ... the entrance is so extremely narrow the country low and sandy'), noting the continuing presence of the hulk of the Marquis of Anglesea, which had been driven ashore in early September and was now serving as 'the Governor's residence ... the Harbour Master's Office, the Post Office & a Prison ship for refractory servants'; she is more impressed by the 'undulating and thinly wooded' country further inland, though doubting its agricultural potential ('alas the soil is nothing but sand'), and positively delighted with the nascent town of Fremantle, which 'strongly resembles a Country Fair & has a pretty appearance the pretty white tents looking much like booths -- at present there are not above five or six houses'. She notes the difficulty and expense of navigation along the Swan River to Perth, the settlers' struggles with the strong prevailing offshore winds and the difficult beginnings of agriculture ('We did not find one garden in the place, all had failed'). Although initially critical of the 'great want of energy' amongst the settlers ('melancholy appears to pervade all classes'), wary of occasionally hostile relations with the aboriginal population and alarmed by living conditions on shore (a low point is an early night at Fremantle at the house of Mr and Mrs Wills, tormented by huge rats and fleas), her spirits and impressions gradually improve, and the stay gradually comes to be perceived as an idyll: even the local wildlife gradually gets a more favourable review -- at least in the context of her dinners, which include black swan, kangaroo tail, parrot, quails and 'a large Bustard'. After a number of abortive attempts to reach Perth they eventually manage the trip on 9 February, though there is a contretemps when their appointed tent is found to be 'full of people carousing': but the town of Perth overcomes the initial impression given by its inhabitants -- 'The situation of the town is extremely picturesque ... the town is situated on an eminence & has a beautiful bay in front ... Many of the Soldiers have reed houses, others have tents -- there is an excellent house nearly finished which will be opened as an Hotel & called the Stirling Arms ... The flies & fleas are beyond description annoying'. Ultimately, after a difficult beginning, her seven weeks in the Swan River settlements are a happy memory, referred back to throughout the rest of the journal.
The journal goes on to describe the Friends' stay in Hobart, which meets with little approval ('Arrived Sunday April 11th never saw such riff raff in my life as came off to the ship. ... I do not like Hobarton at all. Nature has done her utmost for it, but her inhabitants mar the spot'); she remarks the intensity of the settlers' conflict with the aboriginal population ('the inhabitants are carrying on a war of extermination with the Natives who are destroyed without mercy wherever they are met'); ultimately the decision is taken to apply for a grant of land there, however, though they are obliged to return initially with the Wanstead to England. The voyage out to Australia was preceded by landings at Madeira ('The Peasantry are a fine and noble race but sadly depressed by the withering influence of the Priest Craft.'), Bahia in Brazil ('... two slave ships were laying in the harbour whilst we were here and others were daily expected - they were bringing as many as they could, the time nearly having arrived when their treaty with England they must put an end ot the trade ...') and the Cape of Good Hope. The return home takes its route via the Torres Straits, Timor, Singapore ('The island promises to be a place of great importance and many store houses and wharfs are erecting which has created a great jealousy between them and the rival settlement "Pulo Penang"'), Prince of Wales Island (Penang), Sumatra, the Nicobar Islands, Rangoon (a long stay, the subject of a long description in the journal, and the majority of the watercolours), Calcutta, Madras, St Helena and Ascension Island.
Mary Anne Friend was born in London around 1800 to a wealthy breeches maker, John Ford. The family divided its time between a comfortable home in Hampstead and the floors above their business in the Strand. In 1826 she married Matthew Curling Friend, a naval officer who had served in St Helena during Napoleon's captivity: he subsequently captained a number of commercial voyages and in 1829 was commissioned by the merchant company Gale & Son to captain the Wanstead, carrying migrants to the Swan River and Hobart. During their stay at the Swan River, Mary Anne Friend was a joint founder, with the governor's wife, of the colony's first literary society. Her journal adds to the small group of descriptions of the Swan River published in the 1830s, including one by a fellow-passenger on the Wanstead, Jane Roberts, whose Two Years at Sea: The narrative of a voyage to the Swan River and Van Diemen's Land, 1829, 30 and 31 was published in 1834.
The Friends were ultimately to return to Hobart as settlers in July 1832; in September of the same year, Matthew Friend was appointed port officer at Launceston, and the couple built a comfortable home called 'The Grange'. Mary Anne Friend died in 1838, in the middle of a contentious libel trial between her husband and a local newspaper editor, William Goodwin. Her husband remained in Launceston, remarrying in 1840, until increasing blindness and ill-health prompted his return to England in 1852, where he died in 1871.
There is a portrait miniature of Mary Anne Friend in the National Library of Australia (nla.pic-vn4835935).
We are grateful to Associate Professor Deborah Gare, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Australia, for her help in preparing this catalogue entry.