Governor Macquarie holds a Ball

18th January 1817

On this day, 18th January 1817, Allan Cunningham recorded receiving an invitation from Governor Macquarie to attend a Ball; he wrote:

In consequence of an invitation from his Excellency to attend the usual Ball and Supper given at Government House, Sydney, in Commemoration of this Day, on which the birth of His [Her] Majesty is celebrated, I walked down to Sydney [from Parramatta] this morning to prepare myself for the occasion. Forenoon fine. Showery at 2 o’clock, much rain in the evening, continuing without interruption ‘till midnight.  ((Source: Orchard & Orchard, The Australian Botanical Journals of Allan Cunningham, p12))

Allan Cunningham’s Diary 18th January 1817

Governor Macquarie also wrote about the occasion in his diary, he wrote:

This being the anniversary of our gracious good Queen’s Birthday (when she completes her seventy third year), the same was kept as a holiday through the Territory – with the usual respectful demonstrations of joy. – I held a public levee at the Government House, and entertained all the principal ladies and gentlemen of the colony at a ball and supper in the evening; 115 persons having sat down to supper – but 155 and been invited – A beautiful Temple of Hymen, with transparent lights, was erected under the taste and direction of Mrs Macquarie on the lawn in front of Government House, which was lighted up after it became dark, in honour of the recently marriage of the Princess Charlotte of Wales to the Prince of Sax Coburg. ((Source: Governor Macquarie’s diary for 18th January 1817 as listed in The Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie Archive (LEMA) ))

Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s Diary 18th January 1817

On the 25th January 1817, The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser wrote a more detailed description of the Ball, they wrote:

Saturday last being the Anniversary of Her Most Gracious Majesty’s Birth-Day, the Royal Standard and union Jack were displayed at their wonted stations of Fort Philip and Dawes’ Battery, and the accustomed honours of a Royal Salute from the Battery, and a feu-de-jole from the troops, who were drawn out in presence of His Excellency the Governor in Hyde Park, were paid on this auspicious event

A Levee was afterwards held at Government House, where His Excellency received the Compliments and Congratulations due to the Occasion from the Civil and Military Officers, and other Gentlemen; and, notwithstanding the unfavourable state of the weather, this Levee was more numerously attended than any ever before witnessed in the Colony. After the usual Compliments, were gone through, the offering of a Birth-Day Ode, the production of our Laureate Bard, was presented by the Author, Mr. Robinson, who, at the request of His Excellency, recited it in his usual energetic and impressive manner, it is with much pleasure we bear testimony to the merits of a performance which at once displayed the classical acquirements and distinguished taste of the Poet, and the loyalty of the Subject.—Our Readers will be gratified with it in our present columns.

In the evening a grand Ball at Government House exhibited an assemblage of elegance and taste to which the splendid decorations of the ball-room added an effect truly captivating and delightful, reminding us of the Arcadian bowers and scenes of enchantment celebrated by the Muses of old. The chaste and judicious arrangement of the native shrubs and flowers entwined round the colonnades, and forming rich and variegated festoons between them, with the aid of various transparencies intermingled, afforded a coup d’oeil, which to those who were present our description will not enhance the fascinating effect, whilst such of our Readers as had not an opportunity of witnessing it may form some judgment from our imperfect account of.

In the domain, and a little removed from the front of Government House, an octagonal temple or bower was erected, richly illuminated and embellished with various appropriate devices. Amongst others, we particularly noticed a transparency emblematical of the temple of Hymen, whose altar was so lately hallowed by the solemnisation of the Nuptials of our illustrious Princess Charlotte with the Prince of Saxe Cobourg, to whom this bower was specially dedicated.

It being Saturday the ball closed at an early hour, when the company retired to partake of a most elegant and splendid repast, at which 115 Ladies and Gentlemen sat down, and enjoyed an interchange of social and cheerful conversation, until warned to separate by the approach of morning. ((Source: National Library of Australia – “Sydney” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 25 January 1817))