COLLINS, JOHN WRIGHT

1853 - after 1885 from Scotland


treasurer, was born in Edinburgh on 5 January 1853, the son of Alexander Collins and his wife, probably the daughter of John Wright, shoe merchant. He was educated at George Watson's Hospital in Edinburgh from 1861-1868 and then apprenticed for five years to a firm of tea merchants in Edinburgh. In his entry for the Colonial Office List he claimed to have passed the Edinburgh University local exam with honours in mathematics and history in 1867 and to have won the Edinburgh Merchants' Co prize for an essay on direct and indirect taxation in 1873. He also claimed to have studied at Kings College London. In December 1874 he was appointed government schoolmaster to the public school in Stanley. He next entered the colonial administration becoming in May 1878 Justice of the Peace, and then treasurer. (A Colonial Office minute noted: 'Governor CALLAGHAN tells me that Mr Collins is a very shrewd fellow'). He went on to become collector of customs, registrar and acting colonial secretary with a seat on ExCo. Unfortunately his honesty was suspect and during the visit of HMS Dwarf in 1881, Governor KERR invited the ship's paymaster, Horwill, to check the accounts. The paymaster's report of 29 December noted grave errors in the accounts and Collins was apprehended. His locked cupboard was broken open and a wealth of incriminating evidence came to light. Collins had been suppressing despatches and registered letters, stealing cash from the mails and selling highly prized mint Falklands stamps to Stanley Gibbons and collectors in England. 'The Governor is so good-hearted he wants to let this man off, which would be utterly useless as he is a drunkard too', noted the Dwarf' s Captain WISEMAN. Collins was tried on several charges by the Falklands Islands Supreme Court with the Governor presiding as judge. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven years penal servitude on 13 January 1882. After a year in gaol in Stanley, he was shipped to Malta as the Falklands had no facilities for long-term prisoners. In October 1885 he was released from Corradino Prison and went to Australia.

0095
95 Unhappy treasurer.

Authors

David Tatham