13 October, 1888: From George Darsie (in Tahiti) to Sir John Thurston (in Fiji)
This letter was sent a few weeks after the granting of the five year lease to William. He copies the letter to the Under Secretary for the Colonies in Downing Street, London complaining about "the extraordinary conduct of William Marsters in unlawfully attempting to take the island for himself."
"The property belonging to Mr Brander and his wife was divided by the French law courts in 1881 and Palmerston Island fell to the share of Mrs Darsie, formerly wife of Mr John Brander, now my wife....an error has been made by Her Majesty's government in granting a lease or license to Wiliam Marsters , and I formally protest against the acts of William Masters or Marsters, and request your exellency to use such steps as you consider necessary to prevent him from doing further wrong, and I will be legally justified in using force to remove him..."
A sworn statement
In support of his claim, Darsie submits a sworn statement (dated 5th February, 1868) from the Master of the British Brig 'Tawera', George Bowles. Bowles says that he took posession of Palmerston for John Brander in December, 1860 while commanding the French Protectorate barque 'Sultan' which Brander owned. Brander also says he has had possession since 1857 when he put workers on the island to plant "cocoanuts" make "cocoanut" oil, cure beche de mer (sea cucumber) and raise hogs
1889-1891: Investigations and more letters
The Emigration Department in London investigates further and in a note to the Colonial Office dated 8th February, 1889 says "I have no record of any licence to either Mr Darcie (sic) or to Mr Brander issued by the Emigration Commissioners". But Darsie doesn't give up....More letters follow in 1890 and 1891, one direct to the Colonial Secretary himself in Downing Street, London, who doesn't reply in person. It's clear that as far as officials in London are concerned the matter is closed.