Charles Ledger (1818-1905)
Born in London in 1818, Charles Ledger travelled to Peru in 1836 where he worked as a clerk for an English merchant firm. He settled at Tacna and succeeded as a trader in wool, skins, bark and copper. By 1848 he had begun to breed alpacas at Chulluncayani and was approached by British consular officials in 1852 to provide some of the alpacas for New South Wales. Following meetings with Governor Fitzroy in Sydney in 1853, he undertook the task.
His labours took him on a long and arduous journey through Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile to finally ship the alpacas to Sydney where he arrived with a depleted flock and an empty purse.[ADBOnline]
In 1859, Ledger was appointed as the Superintendent of Alpacas with a salary of £300, later increased to £500, and an allowance of £1000 for expenses however he appears to never have recouped the expenses he outlaid in transporting the alpacas to NSW.
'On the faith of promises made in this country I undertook every risk—did succeed—and am ruined!'
He submitted his resignation several times between 1859 and 1861.
On 14 August 1862, following further unsuccessful claims for expenses to the government, he was suspended from office for the misappropriation of funds given to him by the Acclimatisation Society of Victoria – an accusation he vigorously denied.[ADBOnline]
The introduction of alpacas was not a great success and while Ledger wished to settle the animals in the suitable climate of Nimmitabel, they were depastured elsewhere in small lots.
With no further hope of recouping his expenses from the government, Ledger returned to South America in 1864 where he had success in exporting cinchona seeds, from which quinine was extracted.
Ledger returned to Australia in 1883 where he lived the remainder of his life. He died in 1905 and was interred in Rookwood Cemetery.
NRS-7933 - Letters received [Department of Lands and Public Works/Department of Lands I] - The Superintendent of Alpacas relating to the attempt to introduce the alpaca into New South Wales, the cost of which was borne by the government.
NRS-8262 - Papers concerning the introduction of the llama and alpaca into New South Wales [Miscellaneous Branch, Department of Lands]