The original manuscripts of the papers of Reverend William Watson are held with the Church Missionary Society papers in Birmingham University Library (Class Mark C.N./O 93). This edition has been prepared from microfilm copied under the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) as part of its Miscellaneous series, M173-198 and 199-243. The Watson Papers appear in AJCP M232. Note that the microfilmed pages are in some places out of order, and there is some duplication. The editors have restored the correct order of pages for this edition, so that the transcript page numbers differ from that of the AJCP microfilm.

2.1 Reverend Watson's Letters comprises 11 items, the first written from Cape Town en route to NSW, and another three written from Sydney before Watson's departure for Wellington Valley. Letter 6 is an extract of a letter addressed to the Sydney Corresponding Committee, while Letter 6b, addressed to Reverend Richard Hill, was written jointly by Watson and Handt. Both were apparently forwarded to London together and are catalogued under the Class Mark C N/O 92/6. Letters 10 and 11, addressed from "Apsley Station (Wellington)", were written to the Society after Watson's dismissal from the Wellington Valley mission.

2.2 Reverend Watson's Journals contains 12 installments of a quarterly Journal covering the period August 1832 to June 1835. Installments 1 and 2 are the longest, reflecting Watson's early enthusiasm, each being over 30 pages. Installment 8, for the period April - June 1834, is the shortest at 7 pages, and was submitted together with the following installment, Journal 8, being marked as received on the same date. Installments 6 and 7 were also submitted together.

2.3 Reverend Watson's Diaries features the remaining 6 installments of Reverend Watson's Journal. From mid 1835 the quarterly installments are all labelled "Diary", though there is no change in the format (Watson uses the terms Journal and Diary interchangeably). The final installment, Diary 6, is for the period January-March 1837, when Watson conducted the mission alone, following the abrupt departure of J.C.S. Handt.

2.4 Reverend Watson's Reports contains six items written between 1832-40 which are slightly ambiguous. They appear to form part of the body of general reports submitted to the colonial authorities. Though the reports were obstensibly co-written, these here may be largely the work of Reverend Watson and are filed in the bundle of Watson's papers in Birmingham and AJCP copy. The Report for 1835 is "compiled from the statement of the Rev. W. Watson and the Rev. J.C.S. Handt", but is signed only by Watson. It can be contrasted with a seperate 1835 report lodged by Handt. There are important ommissions here, notably the Annual Reports for 1834 and 1837, both the cause of significant political developments respecting the course and future of the Wellington Valley mission.[1] Report 3 is titled "Mr. Watson's remarks towards furnishing matter for the annual Report", dated 30 April 1836, and contains the curious note that "These remarks have been drawn up in the name of the Missionaries merely to avoid exposing the writer to the charge of egotism". It includes an account of items issued to Aborigines from the mission over the previous 16 months. Report 4, 1839, is a brief, desultory effort signed by Watson, Gunther and Porter. Reports 5 and 6 are quarterly accounts, each one page, simply listing the number and status of people attached to the mission at that time.

2.5 Reverend Watson's `Reply', 1840 is properly titled "Reverend William Watson's reply to the Charge preferred against him by the Reverend James Gunther dated Sydney Nov 1-1838". It is a detailed response to criticisms and allegations contained in a lenghty letter Gunther submitted to the Sydney Corresponding Committee when he was in Sydney for Supreme Court proceedings in late 1838 (CMS C.N./O 5a). Watson received Gunther's `charges' in April 1840. The final remark on the last page states that he was unable to have his Reply formally submitted to the Sydney Corresponding Committee, so the copy in the Birmingham/AJCP archives must have been sent straight to London.



  1. Watson and Handt made five annual reports to the NSW government between 1832-1837, also made avaiable to the Society in London. The 1834 report "exhibited such favourable results" that the CMS presented it to Lord Glenelg in support of their case for secure tenure on the Wellington Valley reserve and increased financial backing from the NSW Treasury. The positive assurances the CMS received from the Colonial Office motivated the appointment of Reverend Gunther and the agriculturalist William Porter. Similarly, a lengthy, extracted version of the 1837 Annual Report was sent from Church Missionary House to Downing Street in November 1838, highlighting developments in NSW that were threatening the mission's future. Coates to Glenelg, 31 October 1838, HRA I, 20. The 1837 Report was also crucial to the NSW Executive Council's deliberations on the future of the mission in 1839.