The Littlewood Treaty, The True English Text of the Treaty of Waitangi, Found

Chapter: Précis 1 2 3 4 5a,5b,5c,5d,5e 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Lord Normanby's Brief

Chapter 6


On the 24th of December 2003 Dr. Phil Parkinson wrote the following concerning the Littlewood Treaty document:

‘When I was shown it, in September 2000, it was at once evident to me (as I told Christel McClare of Archives New Zealand, at the time) that the Littlewood document was in the handwriting of James Busby.’

‘In your letter of 16 November to Dr Orange you expressed your amazement that nobody recognised that the scribe of the Littlewood document was Busby, and it certainly puzzled me, also, that this point was not picked up, as far as I know, until I pointed it out in September 2000. But there are rather few people who can now scientifically identify 19th century handwriting. I know from my own experience with unsigned annotations on documents of the 1820s to 1850s that I have sometimes made misattributions; it is a skill that one develops with experience. The departure of some of the senior staff with relevant expertise at Archives New Zealand during the last decade has left a gap’ (Excerpt of letter to Martin Doutré, 24/12/03).

A close scrutiny of Busby’s writing style on the 3rd of February 1840 supports Dr. Parkinson’s analysis that James Busby was the author of the Littlewood Treaty document, bearing the date of the 4th of February 1840. Let’s look at some comparisons:

Busby’s 3rd of February rough draft rendition of “chiefs” is shown on the left and the Littlewood Treaty rendition of the next day is shown to the right. The 3rd of February draft was written in the quiet seclusion of his spacious Waitangi residence and he has taken care in its execution. This example of “chiefs” (left) is taken from Busby’s rewritten, afternoon duplicate of earlier rough notes he’d been working on that morning or the evening previous. Busby ‘submitted’ this improved copy to Hobson in the evening of the 3rd of February, when they met at Busby’s two-room cottage at Kororareka to discuss, with other advisors present, what the final draft should say. As it turns out, the final draft (the Littlewood Treaty) was not completed until the 4th of February and, in terms of penmanship or writing finesse and style, appears to have been a little more rushed, with a somewhat lesser degree of care taken in its execution. Perhaps Busby, who was in transit and away from the comfort of his home and writing desk, was a bit tired and dishevelled after two or three days of intensive writing and rushing to meet a deadline. By the morning of the 5th of February, the final draft had to be translated into the Maori language, such that it could be read before an assembly of over a thousand people at midday.

Busby had a habit of stringing words like “of-the” or “of-their” together, as seen above and this writing style is consistent in the Littlewood Treaty (bottom), as well as his earlier work of the day before (top).

Busby’s morning rough draft from the 3rd of February is seen to the left and his 4th of February draft is on the right. It seems quite apparent that the same author created both documents.

Busby's rendition of "Victoria" on the 3rd of February (left) is slightly more refined and sharp than the way he penned it the next day (right). The general style, however, remains consistent.

Sunday the 2nd of February 1840, it would seem, was the day that James Busby was given the sparse, rough draft notes for the treaty that had been produced by Hobson and Freeman in the days previous. They contained little more than Preambles and some scant, undeveloped ideas for Articles. Hobson was now so ill that he couldn’t carry on with the drafting effort and, therefore, delegated the task to the British Resident, James Busby.
In his attempts to write down some preliminary ideas for Articles, James Stuart Freeman had spelled “Sovereignty” as “Sovreignty” (top) and this appears to have confused Busby later. On the 3rd of February Busby was concentrating solely on creating fleshed out Articles for the Treaty and spelled the word correctly (bottom).

However, while reviewing Hobson's and Freeman's rough notes on the 4th of February, in order to decide on the Preamble wording, Busby appears to have been influenced by Freeman's mistaken rendition of "Sovreignty" and used that spelling in the final draft (examples shown below).

Inasmuch as Freeman had been educated at, prestigious, Eton Public School and Oxford University, Busby probably assumed that Freeman was better informed as to the correct spelling. Similarly, in Busby’s 3rd of February rough draft he used the term “cede and yield”. This might have caused him to once misspell “ceded” as “ceided” on the 4th of February, which word appears on the final draft document with the “i” crossed out. In the final draft Busby also tended to use Freeman’s style of the letter “Z” when linking together the words “New Zealand” in, what seems to be, a more rapid placement of words to paper than on the day before. It’s plausible to assume that Busby “knocked out” two or three of these final English draft copies, in haste, on the 4th of February.*

*Footnote: Author, Caroline Fitzgerald, who has researched and published many, formerly, unpublished letters of Henry and Marianne Williams, states the following:
‘The Treaty of Waitangi was translated into Maori with the help of his son Edward. Initially, five drafts were prepared in English and one (only) was given to Henry’ (see: Letters From The Bay Of Islands, The Story Of Marianne Williams, pg. 247). Many of these letters were repatriated from England just after the First World War and are in the collection of Auckland Institute & Museum.