CUNNINGHAM, Peter Miller (1789-1864). Two Years in New South Wales; comprising Sketches of the Actual State of Society in that Colony; or its Peculiar Advantages to Emigrants; of its Topography, Natural History, &c. &c. London: Henry Colburn, 1827

$ 800.00

CUNNINGHAM, Peter Miller (1789-1864). Two Years in New South Wales; comprising Sketches of the Actual State of Society in that Colony; or its Peculiar Advantages to Emigrants; of its Topography, Natural History, &c. &c. London: Henry Colburn, 1827.

2 volumes. 8vo., (7 4/8 x 4 6/8 inches). Fine folding engraved frontispiece "Map of the Colony of New South Wales reduced by permission from Cross's large Map" (short tear near mount, some offsetting). 19th-century half plum calf, marbled paper boards, the spine in five compartments, with four raised bands, purple morocco lettering-pieces in 2, the others decorated with fine gilt tools, all edges marbled, by Lindop of Northwich, with their ticket on the front paste-down of volume one (spines a bit faded).

Provenance: with the small ink library stamp of Hugh Selbourne, his sale, Bonhams, 8th March 2016, lot 262

Second edition, revised and enlarged, with the addition of Cross's map. Cunningham applied for employment as "surgeon-superintendent in convict transports. In this capacity he made five trips to New South Wales between 1819 and 1828, in the Recovery (August-December 1819 and April-July 1823), Grenada (May-September 1821 and October 1824–January 1825) and Morley (November 1827–March 1828), in which he lost only three of the 747 convicts under his care. On his last voyage, however, his failure to report an outbreak of whooping cough among the soldiers' children on board led to a severe epidemic in Sydney.

"In 1825 Cunningham was granted 1200 acres (486 ha) on the Upper Hunter River, with a lease of 1340 acres (542 ha) adjoining, and in 1826 he applied for an additional grant of the leased land, which was issued in 1830. In this application he claimed to have spent £1100 on stock and improvements, the property, on which fourteen convicts were employed, being managed in his absence by Lieutenant William Ogilvie R.N., a neighbouring settler. He proposed to bring out Saxon merinos and agricultural implements to the value of some hundreds more. In 1827 he published Two Years in New South Wales; a Series of Letters, Comprising Sketches of the Actual State of Society in that Colony; of its Peculiar Advantages to Emigrants; of its Topography, Natural History, etc. etc. in two volumes; it was extremely popular, running through three large editions in two years, with a German translation in 1829. On the proceeds of this book and the savings of his naval service he hoped to establish himself as a settler on his property. In this, however, he did not succeed, partly because of a severe drought, and in May 1830 he returned to England" (L. F. Fitzhardinge, 'Cunningham, Peter Miller (1789–1864)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University). Ferguson, 1109.