Fremantle Stuff > Early Days: Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society

Early Days: Volume 1, 1927-1931

New light on the Johnson-Clark duel

F. I. Bray

Bray, F. I. 1930, 'New light on the Johnson-Clark duel', Early Days, vol. 1, part 8: 85-86.

Following the publication of a paper by Mr. P. E. C. de Mouncey in Vol. I., Part V., pp. 1-15, of the society’s journal on “The Historic Duel at Fremantle between George French Johnson, a merchant, and William Nairne Clark,* a solicitor, in the year 1832” the following additional information was found among the records of the Colonial Secretary’s Office by Mr. F. I. Bray. The main interest of the letters printed below is in showing a possible cause of the quarrel which led to the death of Johnson in the duel with Clark.

The originals are in the Colonial Secretary’s Office Book of Records, July 1 to August 31, 1832, and the Colonial Secretary’s Office Letterbook for 1832. The duel was fought on Friday, August 17, 1832.


William Nairn Clark to the Hon. Peter Brown (Colonial Secretary).

Perth, July 31, 1832.

I, William Nairn Clark, Notary Public of the Diocese of Edinburgh, North Britain, and now of Western Australia, Agent for William Lamb, Merchant in Fremantle, who acts under a Power of Attorney from Wm. Thos. Stocker, of Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land, do caution you the Honourable Peter Brown, Colonial Registrar, not to register any grant or conveyance made by John Weavell, lately Merchant in Fremantle, and now at Preston Point in favour of George French Johnson, Merchant in Fremantle; because the same is a fraudulent conveyance to defeat the just claims of the said Wm. Thos. Stocker, the employer of the said John Weavell, at whose instance a summons has this day been issued against the said John Weavell for a large amount.

I hereby caution you that if any such deed or deeds are registered after this notice I will hold the parties concerned in the transaction liable in damages to the said W. T. Stocker.

(Sgd.) Wm. Nairn Clark, N.P. Entered in my Notorial Book P. 2.


From William Nairn Clark.

Fremantle, August 2, 1832.

Sir,—I beg leave to inform your Excellency that John Weavell some time ago obtained a verdict in the Civil Court against myself and Mr. Charles Spyers for £40 of debt contracted at Rottnest. Mr. Weavell has made a fraudulent conveyance of all his property to Mr. G. F. Johnson, including book debts, etc., and in consequence of some high words between Mr. Johnson and me regarding this transaction he has requested Mr. Stone to issue an order of Execution. Mr. Spyers and I are Crown debtors, and altho’ I pointed out the law to Mr. Stone, viz., that this Crown debt must be settled before execution goes forth at the instance of any private creditor, he yet persists in


* Clark wrote his second name sometimes “Nairne” and sometimes “Nairn.”

86

his intention of issuing this order when Mr. Moore signs it. It is not my intention to accuse Mr. Stone of acting as the professional agent of Messrs. Weavell and Johnson contrary to the Act of Council wliich expressly precludes him as Clerk of Court from doing so; but the thing wears a suspicious appearance and I shall certainly make it my duty as a servant of the Public to enquire into the matter. It is one altogether of spite on the part of Mr. Johnson, as he is well aware that we have lately drawn a Bill on England for £150 to pay this debt and the one due to Government, which it was, and is impossible for us to settle in any other way at present, and all debts due by us will eventually be paid with interest.

As the whole thing is planned to ruin me, just as I am commencing my profession in this Colony, I trust that your Excellency will hand this letter to the Honourable the Judge Advocate for the purpose of informing him of the infringement of the Act of Council (2d. W4th No. 5) intituled “An Act to secure the payment of debts due to the Crown.”—I have the honour to be, very respectfully, Sir, your obedient humble servant.

(Sgd.) Wm. Nairn Clark.

Note: This document is not addressed to anyone.—F.I.B.


The Hon. Peter Brown to W. N. Clark.

Colonial Secretary’s Office, Perth. August 4. 1832.

W. N. Clark,—I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 31st ult. wherein you “caution me not to register any grant or conveyance made by John Weavell, lately Merchant in Fremantle, in favour of Mr. G. F. Johnson. Merchant in Fremantle. because the same is a fraudulent conveyance to defeat the just claims of the said Wm. Thomas Stocker, the employer of the said John Weavell, at whose instance a summons has this day been issued against the said John Weavell for a large amount."

In reply I beg to state for your information that I cannot in my capacity of Registrar refuse to register any deeds, conveyances, wills or instruments in writing affecting lands that may be offered to me for that purpose.

(Sgd.) P. Brown, Colonial Secretary.


The Hon. Peter Brown to Clark and Spyers.

Colonial Secretary’s Office, Perth, August 8, 1832.

Clark and Spyers.— I am directed by his Excellency to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 2nd instant, and to inform you that Mr Stone has received no authority from this Office to take any steps against you on the part of the Crown for the recovery of the sum of money you are indebted to Government without which he has no power to act.

(Sgd.) P. Brown, Colonial Secretary.

[By the misplacing of a comma in Vol. I. Part V. p. 11 of the "Journal” the name of one of the jurors who tried Clark was given as Dr. John Prendergast. It should have read “Dr. John Prendergast Lyttleton.”]


Garry Gillard | New: 14 September, 2020 | Now: 14 September, 2020