Burke & Wills Web
The online digital research archive of expedition records
© 2020

Original item held at the State Library of Victoria, SLV MS13071, Map case 5, Drawer 6a.

Agreements drawn up between the Royal Society if Victoria's Exploration Committee and members of the Victorian Exploring Expedition,
Memorandum of Agreement for the VEE, August 1860.
Manuscript, handwritten in ink on foolscap paper, 3 pages.

Mouseover to view Page 1

© State Library of Victoria - www.slv.vic.gov.au
Mouseover to view Page 2
© State Library of Victoria - www.slv.vic.gov.au
Mouseover to view Page 3
© State Library of Victoria - www.slv.vic.gov.au

On Saturday 18th August 1860 at 1.00 pm, a special meeting of the Royal Society of Victoria was held. The meeting heard a paper read by William Lockhart Morton and then they took leave of the Exploring Party. The minutes of that meeting record...

Dr Eades as chairman of the meeting, Vice-president of the Society and Mayor of Melbourne, then called the members of the Exploration Party forward and the following agreement was read and signed.

Sir William Stawell, as Chairman of the Committee, briefly addressed the men on the importance of the enterprise on which they had embarked.

Dr Eades, as Vice-President of the Society and Mayor of Melbourne, bid the party God speed and after a short speech, passed round the party, shaking each man heartily by the hand and wishing him a prosperous journey. The Society then separated

The Monday edition of the Melbourne Argus (20th August 1860) recorded additional detail. The meeting was well attended due to the interest in the expedition, but not a single member of the government was present. Morton read his paper so quietly as to be inaudible to most. Mr Burke called upon the men to fall in and all 15 members of the expedition walked up the hall and drew up in order at the back of the Presidents chair. (Sepoys were considered day workers and were not invited). Stawell's speech focused on the men being obedient to Burke (and to Landells, should Burke die or have some accident befall him). Charles Ferguson appeared very much excited and refused to sign the agreement until the Society agreed to pay any monies owing him to his daughter.

Memorandum of Agreement

Made the eighteenth day of August, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and sixty, between the Honorable David Elliott Wilkie as Treasurer of the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society, Melbourne of the one part and the several other persons whose names are hereto subscribed, of the other part.

The said persons forming an expedition about to explore the interior of Australia under Robert O'Hara Burke, hereby agree with the said David Elliott Wilkie faithfully to discharge the special duties described opposite to their respective names, ands also to perform whatever in the opinion of the said Robert O'Hara Burke, as leader, or in the event of his death, in the opinion of the leader for the time being, may be necessary to promote the success of the expedition : and they hereby further agree to place themselves unreservedly under the orders of the leader, recognizing George James Landells as second, William John Wills as third; and their right of succession in the order stated. In consideration of the above services being efficiently discharged, the said David Elliott Wilkie, as treasurer, and on behalf of the committee, hereby agrees to pay the said persons the salaries; at the respective rates set opposite their names; such salaries to be paid by monthly installments, not exceeding one half of the amount then due, on a certificate from the leader that the services have been efficiently performed up to the date; and the remainder on and ratably up to the day of return of the expedition to Melbourne, and no more. And each of the said persons hereby lastly agrees, on failure of his part to fully perform this agreement, that his salary shall be forfeited, and that he shall abide by all consequences, the power of discharge vesting with the leader and the power of dismissal and forfeiture of salary resting


on the recommendation of the leader with the said David Elliott Wilkie, acting with the consent of the said committee.

In witness whereof the said parties have hereunto set their hands the day and year above written

Name at the rate per annum Special duties
1 George James Landells £ 600 - Charge of camels
2 William John Wills £ 300 - as surveyor and astronomical observer.
3 Hermann Beckler £ 300 - Medical Officer and Botanist
4 Ludwig Becker £ 300 - Artist, Naturalist and Geologist
5 Charles J Ferguson £ 200 - Foreman.
6 Thomas F McDonagh £ 120 - Assistant.
7 William Patton £ 120 - -- do --
8 Patrick Langan £ 120 - -- do --
9 Owen Cowen £ 120 - -- do --
10 William Brahe £ 120 - -- do --
11 Robert Fletcher £ 120 - -- do --
12 John King £ 120 - -- do --
13 Henry Creber £ 120 - -- do --
14 John Dickford £ 120 - -- do --
And three Sepoys

Signed by all the above in the presence of
John Macadam, MD.
Robert Dickson.

www.burkeandwills.net.au Burke & Wills Web The digital research archive of expedition records
© 2020, Dave Phoenix