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John D'ewes was appointed Acting-Postmaster of Victoria on December 8, 1859
at the annual salary of £200. He had been a Police Magistrate at Ballarat, Australia
Initally he had an assistant but due to cut-backs D'ewes ended up running the post
office single-handedly, except on mail days, when a ship would arrive. The Treasurer
of the goverment seems to have given D'ewes a free hand to operate the service and he
run it to suit himself.
Soon after D'ewes was appointed Acting-Postmaster the first supply of Colonial
postage stamps arrived in Victoria. They had been shipped from London on December
29, 1859 and reached the Colony sometime in the spring of 1860 and were in use by
July 1860. The stamps were to replace the practice of hand-franking envelopes.
In early 1861 there were rich finds of gold in the Cariboo. Victoria was the
gateway to the interior and there was an immediate boom due to the gold find. Left
almost entirely to himself to operate the post office D'ewes was able to take advantage
of the situation.
In September of 1861 D'ewes took a leave of absence leaving the pst office in the
hands of a temporary assistant. D'ewes was to pay into the treasury all public moneys
that had been advanced to him and all collections on hand. Neglecting to do this D'ewes
went on leave with £300 advanced to him, £279, 11s, 6d in postal funds for letters to be
transmitted through San Francisco and an unknown amount in Colonial postage. In addition
he left with a considerable amount of undischarged debts.
On the 20th September 1861 it was reported that D'ewes had left a total of $1.15,
which was in the daily postage box. Few colonial postage stamp seem to have been sold by
D'ewes. Instead he continued to use the old hand-franks which could not be properly
Apparently D'ewes went to Homberg, Germany and after losing all the money committed
suicide by shooting himself.
John L. Bucley was placed in temporary charge of the post office for a few weeks.
On 23 Oct 1861 Henry Wootton was appointed Postmaster in addition to his duties as