Archive for November, 2016

JOSEPH JEFFERIES – FROM NEW YORK TO RIO AND OLD SYDNEY TOWN: ONE – THEN THERE WAS NONE

Monday, November 14th, 2016

1789 – April, Sydney: ‘Not one case of the disorder occurred among the white people either afloat or on shore although there were several children in the settlement; but a North American Indian…took the disease and died’. Samuel Bennett, Australian Discovery and Colonisation, Vol. 1 to 1800, Facsimile edition, 1981

Smallpox inoculation, using dried scab-matter was widespread in the British army of the eighteenth century. It served a dual purpose; to protect – to destroy.

‘It is true our surgeons had brought out variolous matter in bottles’. Marine Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

1787 – August, Brazil: When the First Fleet en-route to Botany Bay put into Rio de Janeiro for supplies in August 1787 Joseph Jefferies, a North American Indian born on New York’s Staten Island, joined the crew of HMS Supply. The young adventurer died of smallpox at Sydney on or about the 10th of May 1789. (more…)

BOSWELL GOES INTO BAT FOR THE BOTANY BAY ESCAPEES

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

‘Boswell appeared for the defence, sometimes in well-nigh hopeless cases. He was never deterred, however, either by the poverty of his client, or by the weight of the evidence against him. On the contrary he seems to have been prone to espouse the causes of the more forlorn the more pertinaciously. C.H Currey, The Transportation Escape and Pardoning of Mary Bryant, Angus and Robertson, 1963.

 1792 – July, Old Bailey London: In 1792 James Boswell, diarist and lawyer, appeared for the defence in a most extraordinary case. His clients were five [5] convicts – Mary Bryant, William Allen, James Martin, Nathaniel Lilley and John Butcher known collectively as ‘the Botany Bay escapees’ .

Each was charged, in accordance with Act 4, Geo. I, c. 11 Transportation Act of 1717[18] ‘return before expiry of sentence…being at large within the kingdom…if proven ‘return before expiry’ attracted mandatory death.

1792 – 2 July, London: It is not clear how James Boswell came to defend Mary Bryant but as she stood in the dock of the Old Bailey, London’s central Criminal Court it would be hard to imagine anyone ‘more forlorn’.

1786 – March, London:  Six (6) years earlier –  March 1786 – in the same court Mary Bryant, then Mary Braund (Broad) aged 18 years stood charged with theft of a silk bonnet. Found guilty and sentenced to death she was reprieved and commuted for transportation ‘beyond the seas’. (more…)

CONVICT TRANSPORTATION – THE HULKS ACT & HOW THE MIND-SET OF SLAVERY CAME TO AUSTRALIA

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

‘Transportation marked a profound transition in the history of British criminal justice’. Roger Ekirch, Bound for America: The Transportation of British Convicts to America 1718-1775, Clarendon Paperbacks, 1990

1603 – England: Following the death of childless Elizabeth Tudor in 1603 her second cousin, King James VI of Scotland, inherited the English Crown and reigned as James I of England and Scotland from 1603 to 1625.

‘Slavery as punishment…a king or magistrate could mercifully spare and enslave a man whose crime had forfeited his right to life’. Winthrop D. Jordan, White Over Black, 1550-1812, Pelican Books 1969  

James the First deemed transportation ‘out of the realm’ for those reprieved death as ‘tempering justice with mercy’. 

‘The strict legality of these measures may be questioned as Blackstone plainly states that no power on earth, except the authority of Parliament, could lawfully send a criminal out of England against his will’. Blackstone Commentaries; adapted by Kerr, 1862, cited in Wilfrid Oldham, Britain’s Convicts to the Colonies, Library of Australian History, 1990

Nevertheless under the auspices of James I an already existing irregular trade transporting convicts to America as slave labour flourished.

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