On the day he embarked for New South Wales (3 August 1829), Felton Mathew began making daily entries in an exercise book. Those entries continue throughout the voyage and into the first several years of his time in NSW.
Once he became married, Felton's wife, Sarah, who frequently accompanied him on his surveying expeditions, took over writing the daily journal. Sarah's diaries are similar exercise books to that used by Felton ruled pages between cardboard covers with a marbled effect finish. The books have been numbered on their covers 1 to 6. Felton's is number 1, the remainder are Sarah's.
Considered hers is also the other small volume held with these manuscripts at the Australian National Library. It is bound with stiff cardboard and contains a typed title page. The first page of original handwriting is headed with the same title:
Stray Leaves from the Journal of a Wanderer in Australia
It also bears the subtitle:
The figure 2 of the 20, however, has been gone over heavily with pencil in an attempt to change the 2 to a 3 or a 5.
The watermark of the paper on which Stray Leaves is written has been dated by the National Library as 1850. Despite being written in the first person, from the point of view of Felton Mathew, it cannot have been written by him since he died in 1847. Some features of the handwriting are clearly and repeatedly evident in the diaries attributed to Sarah Mathew. The conclusion is that, sometime after Felton's death, Sarah wrote Stray Leaves, based on a part of the period covered by Felton in his book number 1 the period prior to Sarah's joining him in the colony.
Exercise books numbers 2 6, attributed to Sarah Mathew, have been transcribed by Mrs Olive Havard and published (approximately 1942) in the Royal Australian Historical Society Journal (Vol. 29, nos. 2, 3 and 4; Apr 1942 Aug 1943). Interestingly, Mrs Havard states in her introduction to the transcription of Sarah's diaries that "[u]nfortunately the first book, possibly containing first impressions of a new country and its inhabitants, is missing, and the journal as it exists is contained in five books numbered from 2 to 6."
Exercise book number 1 is now found and presented here for your interest. It contains Felton's day-to-day record of his activities. On the inside of the front cover is the pencilled inscription:
Diary kept by Felton Mathew on his first voyage out to Australia, starting Aug 3rd 1829.
The voyage ends Dec 3rd 1829. The diary continues giving the day to day work of Felton Mathew in the Survey Department from Jan 1st 1830 to September 13th 1832.
This book is the property of Lady Olivier
Over those words the date of acquisition by the National Library, 22 July 1938, is stamped.
In these web pages you will find the previously unpublished exercise book no. 1, being Felton Mathew's diary and the similarly unpublished Stray Leaves from the Journal of a Wanderer in Australia written by Sarah Mathew.
Feltons diary has been divided into several web pages for convenience