Guide to the Papers of the Donnithorne Family (as filmed by AJCP)


M1713 - M1717

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Donnithorne, James
Donnithorne, Eliza
Papers of the Donnithorne Family (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1825 - 1881
Collection Number
M1713 - M1717
34 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Papers and estate records of the Capell Family, Earls of Essex [DE/Cp]. It is not known why the Donnithorne papers are among the archives of the Capell Family.

Papers 1836-50 of James Donnithorne relating to his business activities in India and Australia, including accounts, stock returns, bills, receipts and letters. Correspondents include Alexander F. Mollison, James Graham, Stuart A. Donaldson and Charles Ebden. Letters 1814-81 received by Eliza Donnithorne.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed at the Hertfordshire Record Office as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1988 (AJCP Reel: M1713-M1717). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Hertfordshire Record Office. County Hall, Hertford SG13 8DE, England.

For further information see Hertforshire Archives and Local Studies ( Collection Ref: DE/Cp

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding-aid Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.


Australia; Businessmen; Donaldson, Stuart A.; Donnithorne, Eliza; Donnithorne, James; Donnithorne Family; Ebden, Charles; Graham, James; India; Mollison, Alexander F.


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 141, p51.

Biographical / Historical

James Donnithorne (1773-1852), the son of Nicholas Donnithorne, was born and baptised in London. He grew up in London, where his father was a merchant and alderman. He joined the East India Company as a writer in 1792. He spent nearly forty years in the service of the Company. For many years he was collector, mint master and officiating assay master at Farruckhabad and later he was the salt agent and collector at Hidgelee. For a time he was a judge and senior merchant in Mysore. In 1807 Donnithorne married Sarah Bampton, the daughter of a merchant seaman, Captain William Bampton (1759-1813), who had discovered the Bampton Reefs near New Caledonia in 1793. Sarah Donnithorne and two daughters died in a cholera epidemic in 1832.

Donnithorne came to New South Wales in 1836 on account of his health. He had amassed a fortune in India and he immediately took up the position of a pastoralist, initially in partnership with Charles Ebden. In the colony he assumed, with little justification, the title of 'Judge'. He acquired or leased extensive properties in New South Wales and South Australia. From 1840 to 1850 he was the owner of St Agnes Station, named after his birthplace, a vast estate lying between the Campaspe and Coliban rivers in the Port Phillip district. In Sydney Donnithorne purchased Camperdown Lodge in Newtown. He was prominent in Sydney society and was well known for his hospitality.

Edward Harris Donnithorne (1810-1885) was the eldest son of James and Sarah Donnithorne. He grew up in India and joined the 16th Lancers, which were stationed in India. He married Elizabeth Moore in England in 1834. In 1840 he acquired Colne Lodge in Twickenham, near London, where he lived for the rest of his life. He was active in local affairs, being a magistrate and chairman of the Local Board. His son Edward George Moore Donnithorne (1842-1906) joined the Army and served in the Maori Wars.

Eliza Emily Donnithorne (1826?-1886), the youngest child of James and Sarah Donnithorne, was born at the Cape of Good Hope. She spent her early years in India and Sydney. She then moved to England where she lived for a time in her brother's home at Twickenham. In 1846 she received a large bequest from her uncle William Bampton. In the same year she returned to Sydney and lived with her father until his death in 1852. She inherited the larger part of his estate. In 1855 Eliza became engaged to but on the day of the wedding the bridegroom failed to appear. From that time, she became eccentric, never leaving Camperdown Lodge and only receiving visits from her doctor, solicitor and a clergyman. It was reported that she always wore her wedding dress and that the wedding breakfast was never cleared from the dining table. Whether Charles Dickens based the character of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations on Eliza Donnithorne is not certain.

Item Descriptions

Series DE/Cp/7/1. Business Records. James Donnithorne, 1836 - 1850

12 items,

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M1713.

Subseries B1. Accounts and Miscellaneous Papers, 1836 - 1840

6 items,
Correspondence from Charles H. Ebden to James Donnithorne, 1836 - 1840 (File 1)

Correspondence of Charles Ebden (Port Phillip) to James Donnithorne (Sydney), Oct 1836 – Dec. 183 concerning: his travels in the Port Phillip district; Mungabareena and Carlsruhe stations; the movement of stock; employment of shepherds;, financial transactions; business with Stuart Donaldson; winding up of the partnership with Donnithorne.

Donnithorne to Charles Ebden, 24 Dec. 1840: a financial matter. (copy)

Statement of stock of Ebden and Donnithorne at Port Phillip, 1836-37.

Returns of wool sales and other accounts.

Accounts at the dissolution of the partnership between James Donnithorne and Charles H Ebden, 1839 - 1840 (File 2)

Papers include a statement of the total assets of Ebden and Donnithorne collected and divided, sales of stock during the partnership, a memorandum of the final adjustments between Ebden and Donnithorne, bills deposited in the Bank of Australasia, a memorandum of cattle returns, Ebden's account with Donaldson, and Ebden and Donnithorne's accounts with Richard Jones and Co. and Stuart Donaldson.

Stuart Donaldson (Sydney) to Donnithorne, 16 March 1840: financial transactions; sales of sugar.

Accounts and correspondence, 1837 (File 3)

Account of sales of household furniture, carriage, horses etc. of Donnithorne sold at auction by A. Polack, Sydney, April 1837.

Richard Jones and Co. (Sydney) to Donnithorne (Calcutta), 25 May 1837: financial transactions.

Stuart Donaldson (Sydney) to Donnithorne (Calcutta), May – Oct. 1837: to economic conditions in New South Wales, stock prices, investments, stations in Port Phillip district, accounts of Ebden and Donnithorne, news of Charles Ebden, his travels, Sydney society divided by party feeling, news of Sydney friends, marriages, Donnithorne's arrival in Madras, proclamation of Queen Victoria in Sydney, and the departure of Governor Bourke.

George Braine (Calcutta) to Donnithorne and Donnithorne's reply, 10 Oct. 1837.

Accounts and Bills of Lading, 1836 - 1840 (File 4)

Accounts of Donnithorne with Richard Jones and Co. and Stuart Donaldson, 1837-40.

Account of sales of sugar and rice shipped by Donnithorne from Calcutta to Sydney on the Emerald Isle, 12 Nov. 1838.

Bills of lading for goods shipped by Donnithorne on the Emerald Isle, Feb. 1838.

Correspondence and accounts, 1839 - 1840 (File 5)

Stuart Donaldson (Sydney) to Donnithorne, Jan. 1839- March 1840: financial transactions, land purchases, sheep sales, and the adjustment of Donnithorne's dealings with Charles Ebden. (5 letters)

Sheep returns, 1839-41, including sheep depastured at New England, the Murrumbidgee and the Monaro.

Receipts from the New South Wales Treasury, 1840.

A plan of Garland Town and allotments at Marooya [Moruya] Harbour, St Vincent, to be sold on 4 May 1840.

Miscellaneous papers, 1840 (File 6)

Mainly concerning the management of flocks, including draft/copy agreement with overseer William Ward and power of attorney to James Graham (Melbourne), Jan 1840 and Stock returns, Jan 1840-Jan 1841.

Power of attorney from Donnithorne to James Graham (Melbourne), 8 Jan. 1840.

Minutes of agreement between Donnithorne and William Ward, 6 Jan. 1840.

Receipt of William Ward (Melbourne) for sheep received from Donnithorne, 6 Jan. 1840.

Valuations and sheep returns, 1840-41.

Account of sheep sold by Donnithorne to P.G. King, 1 March 1840.

Subseries B2. Accounts and Miscellaneous Papers, 1846 - 1847

1 item,
Accounts, bills, and returns, August 1846 - March 1847 (File 1)

Account of Alexander Mollison, attorney of Donnithorne, with Dalgety, Borrodaile and Gore, 21 Aug. 1840.

Account of sale of sheep by Alexander Mollison, 1 Feb. 1847.

List of men employed at St Agnes Station, 10 March 1847.

Return of sheep on stations owned by Donnithorne, 10 March 1847.

Account of Donnithorne with Alexander Mollison, 1846-47.

[Some of these items these were probably originally enclosed in B3/2.]

Subseries B3. Correspondence, 1843 - 1850

5 items,
Correspondence from James Graham (Melbourne) to James Donnithorne (Sydney), February 1843 - December 1843 (File 1)

Concerning Donnithorne's sheep station, covering: sheep sales; fencing of Donnithorne's property; rents of cottages; Melbourne news; Charles La Trobe; Farquhar and Agnes McCrae; Graham's inspection of St Agnes station (Campapse River) and sale of Mount Alexander Station.

Return of sheep in the charge of William Ward, 1 July 1842.

Letters are numbered in series, 5-13; for preceeding letters see DE/Cp F22/5.

Correspondence from Alexander F. Mollison (Melbourne and Colliban) to James Donnithorne (Sydney), August 1843 - February 1847 (File 2)

Donnithorne's sheep station at St Agnes concerning: affairs of St Agnes Station; claims of James Graham; advantages of Donnithorne residing for short time at St Agnes; wool sales; bill in equity against William Ward; Donnithorne's account; increase in licences for depasturing on Crown lands; sheep losses and diseases at St Agnes; recruitment of farm labourers from Van Diemen's Land; judgment in case against Ward (1846); financial transactions; sheep shearing; death of a young shepherd at St Agnes.

Account of Donnithorne with S. and R. Gregory, 1844-45.

Invoices of the wool clip at St Agnes Station, 1845, 1846.

Correspondence and Accounts to James Donnithorne, 1846 - 1850 (File 3)


Palmer, Mackillop, Dent and Co. (London) to Donnithorne, Feb. 1847- Oct. 1850: his pension.

Account of Donnithorne with Palmer, Mackillop, Dent and Co., 1846.

Stuart Donaldson and Co. (Sydney) to Donnithorne, June 1847 –May 1850: wool sales; transfer of licenced runs; account; purchase of a carriage.

Account of Donnithorne with Stuart Donaldson and Co., 1848.

Account of wool shipped by Donnithorne on the William Parker and sold in London, 13 Dec. 1848.

Invoice of wool clip at St Agnes Station, 1849.

Alexander Mollison (Melbourne) to Donnithorne, Feb. 1849 – Sept. 1850: the sale of St Agnes Station.

Accounts of Donnithorne with Alexander Mollison, James Graham and Moore and Chambers (Melbourne), 1848-50.

Correspondence and accounts to James Donnithorne (Sydney) from Charles Morgan (Calcutta), March 1844 - January 1845 (File 4)


Charles Morgan (Calcutta) to Donnithorne, March – Nov. 1844: payments, purchase of horses, and news that the rajah was encroaching on Donnithorne's land at Contai.

Power of attorney from Donnithorne to Charles and John Morgan, merchants, 1845. (draft)

Donnithorne (Melbourne) to Charles Morgan, 9 July 1844: financial matters.

Account of Donnithorne with Charles Morgan, 1844.

J.H. Donnithorne (Kussowlie) to Charles Morgan, 27 Oct. 1844: receipt of allowance from Donnithorne; wishes to go to England as a soldier after many years in India; seeks employment.

Correspondence and accounts to James Donnithorne (Sydney) from Charles Morgan (Calcutta), June 1845 - May 1846 (File 5)


Charles Morgan (Calcutta) to Donnithorne, Jan. – May 1846: shipments.

Account of Donnithorne with Charles Morgan, 1845-46.

Account of Donnithorne with Macintyre and Co., 1846.

Invoice for goods shipped by C. Morgan to Sydney on Theresa on account of Donnithorne, 17 Jan. 1846.

Series DE/Cp/3/3. Family Papers. James Donnithorne and family, 1825 - 1881

22 items,

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reels M1714-M1717.

Subseries F22. Miscellaneous personal accounts, vouchers and correspondence, 1825 - 1847

16 items,
Miscellaneous personal accounts, vouchers and correspondence, 1838 - 1841 (File 1 [A])


C and J Morgan, merchants and commission agents (Calcutta) to Donnithorne, July 1838 – Oct. 1841: shipment of goods, payments, shares, repairs to Donnithorne's house in Calcutta; Account of Donnithorne with C and J Morgan, 1838-41; Invoices and receipts, 1838-41; Montefiore, Carmichael and Co., merchants (Calcutta) to Donnithorne, Feb. – July 1838: shipment of goods; payments; affairs of Australian Association of Bengal; Account of Donnithorne with Montefiore, Carmicheal and Co., 1838 and Miscellaneous Calcutta bills and receipts, 1838-39.

Correspondence from T Hyde Gardiner (Calcutta), August 1837 - August 1838 (File 1 [B])

Letter from t Hyde Gardiner, Secretary to the Australian Association of Bengal (Calcutta) to Donnithorne (Calcutta, Sydney) concerning: Australian Association and Donnithorne's passage to New South Wales; Bills of exchange, 1838 and printed documents concerning Australian Association of Bengal, including proceedings of the first meeting, July 1837.

Accounts - Current, May 1830 - August 1835 (File 1 [C])
2 items,

Donnithorne with Cruttenden, Mackillop and Co, commission agents (Calcutta); Estate of Sarah Bampton with Cruttenden, Mackillop and Co. (Calcutta); Donnithorne with Macintyre and Co. (Calcutta), and letters and invoices from Calcutta merchants to Donnithorne.

Papers concerning annuity from Bengal Civil Service Annuity Fund, 1825 - 1842 (File 1 [D])
2 items,

Including: regulations of Bengal Civil Service Annuity Fund, 1 Oct. 1825. (14pp); Balance sheets showing payments made from Annuity Fund to Donnithorne, 1829- ; J.P. Grant, secretary of Bengal Civil Service Annuity Fund, to Donnithorne, 1831-37; Power of attorney from Donnithorne (Sydney) to John Donnithorne Taylor and William Bampton (London), Feb. 1840 and miscellaneous legal documents, 1837-41.

Correspondence and accounts with various Indian merchants, 1825 - 1835 (File 2)

Contains several sub-bundles and includes: invoices and receipts from Calcutta merchants and other businesses and organisations, 1825-1835.

Vouchers, 1838 - 1839 (File 3)

Invoices and receipts from retailers and other businesses in Sydney and Melbourne, 1838-1839.

Miscellaneous correspondence, 1837 - 1839 (File 4)


Correspondence with James H. Fisher (Adelaide), May 1837 –Oct. 1839: Donnithorne's visit to Adelaide; his box found in a creek near Holdfast Bay; arrival of new governor; commencement of new dairy; arrival of Capt. Charles Sturt; Fisher's agency work for Donnithorne; sheep farming; progress of the colony; acknowledges payments; land surveys; family news; social events; arrival of sheep and cattle from Port Phillip.

John Morphett (Adelaide) to Donnithorne, July 1839 – July 1842: payment to a groom; sale of Donnithorne's sheep; horses; accounts.

Account of Donnithorne with John Morphett, 1838-39.

Samuel Cobbin (Adelaide) to Donnithorne, Feb. 1840 – July 1842: claim for wages.

Miscellaneous correspondence, 1835 - 1845 (File 5)
4 items,

Including: Account of late Lieut. Donnithorne with Cox and Co. (London), 1833-35; Lists of plants sent to Donnithorne from Cape Town, 1835-37; James Graham (Melbourne) to Donnithorne, April 1840 – March 1842: reports on St Agnes Station; Alexander Mollison; sheep diseases; sale of sheep to James Simpson; arrival of large numbers of immigrants; Donnithorne's sheep in South Australia; Account of Donnithorne with James Graham, 1839-45; Account of Donnithorne with Donaldson, Dawes and Co. (Sydney), 1841-44; William Dawes (Sydney) to Donnithorne, March 1842 –April 1844: land at South Head; financial arrangements. C. and J. Morgan (Calcutta) to Donnithorne, May 1842 – Jan. 1846: shipment of goods; economic conditions in Calcutta; Donnithorne's properties in Calcutta; his house at Contai; creditors; bills of lading; Account of Donnithorne with C. and J. Morgan, 1841-45.Invoices of goods shipped to Sydney, 1842-46; Power of attorney from Donnithorne to Charles Morgan and John Morgan (Calcutta), 15 Aug. 1845.

Vouchers, 1840, 1842 (File 6)

Accounts, invoices, receipts, subscription payments and other vouchers issued by retailers and other suppliers, mainly in Sydney but also in Hobart, 1840-1842

Vouchers, 1840 - 1841 (File 7)

Accounts, invoices, receipts, subscription payments and other vouchers issued by retailers and other suppliers, mostly in Sydney but also in Melbourne, 1840-1841. The subscriptions refer to newspapers, such as the Sydney Herald, Sydney Monitor, The Australian and the Australasian Chronicle, the Sydney Subscription Library, and John Gould's Birds of Australia.

Vouchers, 1843 (File 8)

Accounts, invoices, receipts, subscription payments and other vouchers issued by retailers and other suppliers, mostly in Sydney but also in Melbourne, 1843.

Vouchers, 1844 (File 9)

Invoices from Melbourne suppliers addressed to Donnithorne at St Agnes Station, 1844 and Accounts, invoices, receipts, subscription payments and other vouchers issued by retailers and other suppliers in Sydney and Melbourne, 1844.

Correspondence and accounts from James Graham (Melbourne), 1844 - 1846 (File 10)

James Graham (Melbourne) to Donnithorne (St Agnes, Sydney), Feb. 1844 – Sept. 1846: financial transactions; Alexander Mollison; economic conditions; wool prices; mutual friends; Donnithorne's plans to return to Sydney; Graham's travels in Port Phillip district; social events; sale of land in Melbourne; public appointments in Melbourne; shares; Stuart Donaldson; bequests to Donnithorne's sons and daughter; family news

Donnithorne (St Agnes) to James Graham, 3 March 1844: financial matters (copy)

Account of Donnithorne with James Graham, 1845-1846.

Vouchers, 1845 (File 11)

Accounts, invoices, receipts, subscription payments and other vouchers issued by retailers and other suppliers, 1845

Vouchers, 1846 (File 12)

Accounts, invoices, receipts, subscription payments and other vouchers issued by retailers and other suppliers, mainly in Sydney but also in Melbourne, 1846.

Vouchers, 1847 (File 13)

Accounts, invoices, receipts, subscription payments and other vouchers issued by retailers and other suppliers, mainly in Sydney but also in Melbourne, 1847.

Subseries F23. Correspondence with Financial Agents mainly concerning East India Company pay, 1840 - 1847

3 items,
Miscellaneous correspondence and papers, 1840 - 1843 (File 1)


Memorial from Donnithorne to Court of Directors of the East India Company concerning the proposed reduction in his remuneration, c. 1830. (printed, 8 pp).

Miscellaneous letters received by Donnithorne, 1840-43. The correspondents include Thomas Jeffrey, James Templer, William Croker, A. Van Brienen and Frederick Parbury.

Correspondence and accounts from S A Donaldson, 1844 - 1847 (File 2)
3 items,

Stuart Donaldson (Sydney) to Donnithorne (St Agnes, Melbourne, Sydney), May 1844 – Feb. 1850: Donnithorne's debts; James Graham; William Ward; economic situation; need to live quietly and economically until prosperity returns; hopes Donnithorne will be spared from living in a bark hut; debts owing to Donaldson and Graham; Donnithorne's bills in Calcutta and England; receipt of funds.

Donaldson, Lambert and Co. (London) to Donnithorne, Sept. – Oct. 1845: correspondence with Rev. Thomas Bevan about assistance to Miss Donnithorne when she decides to proceed to Sydney; credit of £200 opened in favour of Miss Donnithorne.

Donnithorne (Melbourne) to Stuart Donaldson, June – Aug. 1844: financial matters; need to remain in Melbourne; adjustment of his finances.

Account of Donnithorne with Donaldson, Dawes and Co., 1844-1846.

Account of Donnithorne with James Graham, 1844

Correspondence and accounts from Palmer, MacKillop and Dent, London, 1841 - 1844 (File 3)


Account of Donnithorne with Palmer, Mackillop and Dent, 1840-1845

Palmer, Mackillop and Dent (London) to Donnithorne, July 1842 – Jan. 1846: financial transactions; Donnithorne's pension; wool sales; payment to Miss Donnithorne.

Donnithorne (Sydney) to Palmer, Mackillop and Dent, 12 Aug. 1843: financial transactions; power of attorney; Donnithorne's pension.

Power of attorney from Donnithorne to John Palmer, James Mackillop, Thomas Dent and others, 20 June 1844.

Report on Proposed Overland Route to Port Essington, October 1843 (File F24)

Legislative Council of New South Wales. Report from the select committee on the proposed overland route to Port Essington with appendix and minutes of evidence, 1843. (20 pp)

Subseries F25. Letters received by Miss Eliza Donnithorne (Sydney), 1846 - 1881

2 items,
Letters to Miss Donnithorne, Sydney, 1846 - 1864 (File 1)

Correspondence from John Chalmers (London) to Eliza Donnithorne, July 1846 – Oct. 1864 concerning: her voyage to Sydney (1846); financial matters; bequests of her uncle Major William Bampton; hopes she and her father will return to England; marriage of her brother (1850); death of Rev. Thomas Bevan; death of James Donnithorne; management of his property; her trustees; her plans to return to England (1855); Eliza's continuing poor health; litigation begun by her brother (1859); investments; shares in railway companies; his meetings with Mrs Daws; sadness that Eliza is so far from family and friends; her brother Edward's substantial fortune; thanks for gifts.

Letters to Miss Donnithorne, 1874 - 1881 (File 2)

Correspondence from J.B. Pratt (London) to Eiza Donnithorne concerning: transmits letters of credit; financial transactions; shares in railway companies; dividends; thanks for presents; Eliza's health; her difficulties with her lawyer; property matters.