AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

The Franklin-Montague dispute

by Joyce E(Eileen) Eyre

Institution: University of Tasmania
Year: 1939
Keywords: Franklin; John; Sir; 1786-1847; Montague; John
Record ID: 1060437
Full text PDF: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/19432/1/whole_EyreJoyceEileen1940_thesis.pdf


Almost a century ago, Lord Stanley, the Secretary of State for the Colonies wrote these words at the close of a despatch  – Despatch 150, written on the 13th September, 1842, to Sir John Franklin, in Van Dieman's Land.- "The result of my consideration of the whole subject is to relieve Mr Montagu from every censure which impugns the integrity or the propriety of his conduct. It cannot be too distinctly understood that Mr Montagu retires from the situation he has so long filled with his personal and public character unimpaired and with his hold on the respect and confidence of her Majesty's Government undiminished.  – I am compelled to add that your proceedings in this case of Mr Montagu do not appear to me to have been well-judged, and that your suspension of him from office is not in my opinion, sufficiently indicated." His Lordship's Despatch served the double purpose of snubbing Franklin and of justifying Montagu. Now the cycle of time has swung around and history would reverse Lord Stanley's ill-considered judgement. The dispute between Franklin and Montagu, dramatic, bitter and futile in itself, yet holds up a mirror in which are reflected the lives, the struggles, and the problems of those who lived in an age of transition  – an age in which free settlers were beginning to out-number convicts, when Van Dieman's Land was about to become Tasmania. The chief figures in the dispute were Sir John Franklin the Lieutenant Governor of Van Dieman's Land, his spirited wife, Lady Franklin, Captain John Montagu, Colonial Secretary, and, away in the cloudy pompous atmosphere of Downing Street, Lord Stanley, the Secretary of State for the Colonies.