William Hamilton diary

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A log book/diary kept by William Hamilton relating to the activities of the Hamilton Pearling Company in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands collecting turtle shell, pearl shell and trepang, and the clearing of land for plantations. Hamilton travelled on the vessels "Canomie", "Ysabel", "Gazelle", "Seestern" and "Kambin" from January 1 1903 to November 14 1905. There is an account of a massacre in the French Islands and the escape of trader Peter Hanson on pages 99-106. William Hamilton was born at Bothwell, Scotland. He emigrated to Queensland with his family at the age of 10 in 1861. His father was a businessman in Bundaberg, operating boats and other enterprises. From the 1870's William Hamilton was operating steamers. In 1882-1883, he made voyages from Brisbane to the New Hebrides, New Britain and New Ireland recruiting Melanesian labour for industries in Queensland. In 1884 he married Margaret Robina Moffatt and by 1887 was a merchant in Eidsvold. From 1894 he operated a charter business for Burns Philp and Company to Samarai and New Guinea. He established the Hamilton Pearling Company about 1900, which engaged in pearling on the Admiralty Islands, Solomon Islands and in the Torres Straits and Manning Straits. This company also traded in copra, tortoise shell, black lip and green snail shell. By 1909 he had acquired plantation land at Choiseul in the Solomon Islands and a second plantation at Bougainville. He founded the Solomon Islands Planters Association in 1916. He continued to operate the plantations until the 1930's when he retired to Sydney. William Hamilton died in Sydney in November 1937.


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