Welcome to collection of 1820 settler petition letters

Funded by the Polish National Science Centre (NCN), 2011-2014 (project grant No. 3806/B/H03/2011/40)

The collection provided empirical background for the monograph:

Matylda Włodarczyk. 2016. Genre and literacies: Historical (socio)pragmatics of the 1820 settler petition. Poznań: Wydawnictwo Naukowe UAM.

The resource is available for free, if you want to use it for academic purposes. Please contact Matylda Włodarczyk wmatylda@wa.amu.edu.pl for login and password.

The data are presented in the form of linguistic transcriptions of the Cape of Good Hope applications from 1819 written in Britain (preserved in TNA) and of the 1820 settler letters to the Colonial Office written in South Africa for the years 1820-25 (Western Cape Archives and Records Service, Cape Town; Włodarczyk 2016 provides further information on the records and the involved procedures). In particular, the linguists interested in historical letter writing and the Late Modern period will find the resource useful as it illustrates the contemporary literacies of both standard and nonstandard nature. Moreover, the 1820 settlers are considered by many linguists to have exerted the so-called “founder effect” on White South African English. The collection also provides a handy tool of research into social and cultural issues in the early nineteenth-century Britain and the Cape Colony. Covering institutional correspondence, the correspondence illustrates the functioning of the political solutions to pauperism in Britain and is related in terms of the context to the so-called “letters of the poor” written in connection to the Poor Laws, in particular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Studies into institutional correspondence are complicated by a range of issues related to authorship. The 1819 letters are all autographs. The 1820-25 set has been divided according to the autograph vs. scribal distinction. All letters are in plain and rich text format, the latter including the following transcription conventions.

Information on the authors and scribes (dates and places of birth and occupations) may be consulted here.

The collection has been equipped in a search engine enabling all text searches as well as based on the archival references. Search options involve the autograph as opposed to scribal categories, rich vs. plain text and the place of writing.