Following the events earlier described, three philanthropists, Vernon, Harberd, and Stracey proposed a privately owned emigration scheme to the Cape of Good Hope. The editorial which appeared in The Times on 12 July 1819 promoted the scheme.
The proposal of the three philanthropists saw discussion in parliament on 12 July 1819 and £50 000 was voted by the government to finance the scheme. A condition of the availability of the fund was that it had to be spent within six months .This stipulation had the effect that not sufficient planning could be done before the implementation phase commenced. It can be said that this was one of the reasons for the failure of the scheme. The scheme was managed by the Colonial Office and was advertised by way of pamphlets which were distributed.
The Colonial Office received more than 90 000 letters of application. Some journalists described the mood in the UK as emigration fever.
The Colonial Office arranged to appoint a number of party leaders. Once appointed party leaders recruited members for their parties. Parties had to have a minimum of 10 men. Party leaders received free passage for the voyage for themselves, their families and their servants.
Party leaders were responsible to lodge £10 for each single male or family group consisting of a married couple with two children over the age of 14. For additional children between the ages of 14 and 18 years of age the cost was £5 each; for every child under 14 years of age £2 10s had to be lodged. Single women had to lodge £10.
These fees were to pay for food for the settlers in each party until they had harvested their first crop at the Cape.
The way these funds had to be lodged lead to various private arrangements between settlers as regards the composition of “families.”
The Colonial Office was not concerned with the way these party leaders compiled and selected the members of their parties.
At this point in time Britain was in the grip of a very deep recession. Parishes and charitable organizations made use of this scheme to relieve them of the obligation to look after large numbers of people who were in need of shelter and substance. The parishes in fact paid the money which settlers had to lodge on behalf of the settlers.
Matters would have worked out fine for the Colonial Office if the settlers could have sailed immediately, however this was not possible and during the delay before sailing the newspapers started publishing cartoons, particularly those by Cruikshank which depicted savages taking bites out of the bodies of settlers. These cartoons and articles did not deter would-be settlers and when ships were available they sailed with full compliments. In some cases would- be settlers developed cold feet and left the parties, however their places were quickly filled by other eager settlers. This process created havoc with passenger lists and other records.
The first ships sailed from the Downs at the mouth of the Thames River from December 1819. Ships also sailed from Liverpool, Bristol, and Portsmouth. The Irish settler contingent sailed from Cork.
According to reports the weather during the passage was good. The first ship, “Chapman,” which arrived in Algoa Bay was spotted in the bay on the 9th April 1820. During April and May all the ships arrived at their destinations except the Abeona which was lost at sea.
The weather may have had the result that the voyage was comfortable but the atmosphere on board ship was stormy. By the time the ships arrived most settlers have tried to terminate their contracts with the leaders of the parties to which they belonged.