Archive for February, 2017

A VICIOUS CIRCLE – THE HANGMAN’S NOOSE

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

‘The death penalty was brought to Australia with the First Fleet’. Mike Edwards, The Hanged Man, The Life and Death of Ronald Ryan, 2002.

1788 – 18/20 January, Botany Bay: About 750 (570 male and 193 female) of England’s convicted criminals, reprieved death on condition they be sent into exile, reached Botany Bay in the middle of January 1788; among them Thomas Barrett, Henry Lavell, Joseph Hall and John Ryan.

‘In determining the daily ration no distinction was drawn between the marines and the convicts…the standard adopted was that of the troops serving in the West Indies’. Wilfrid Oldham, Britain’s Convicts to the Colonies, Library of Australian History, Sydney 1990

1788 – 26 January, Sydney Cove: The fleet relocated nine (9) miles (14km) north to Sydney Cove on the 26th of January.

1788 – 27 January:The landing of a part of the marines and [male] convicts took place the next day, and on the following, the remainder [of the men] disembarked’. Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, Sydney 1961

1788 – 27 February, Sydney: One (1) month later – 27 February – Barrett, Lavell, Hall and Ryan stood beneath‘ a large tree fixt as a gallows’. 

Britain’s invasion and colonisation of New Holland brought Australia’s First Nations starvation, disease and a racist caste system based on colour. Well practised retribution was meted out when any dared to challenge the predators who stole their land and plundered their resources.

‘Imagine if we had suffered the injustices and then were blamed for it’. Paul Keating Redfern Speech, Paul Keating, 10 December 1992.

Although the myriad injustices that followed Britain’s invasion and dispossession stand in plain sight, because of widespread ignorance in mainstream non-Aboriginal Australia, they go largely unrecognised and unacknowledged, even if acknowledged, the First Australians are ‘blamed it’.

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CATCH 22 – JAMES FREEMAN

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

 James Freeman – ‘Hang or be Hanged’. 

 

Part of the original document pardoning a convict if he acts as executioner

Extract showing a pardon on condition of becoming the public executioner. Dated 1 March 1788, signed by Governor Arthur Phillip.

‘For here was an opportunity of establishing a Jack Ketch who Should, in all future Executions, either Hang or be Hanged’. Dr John White, Chief Medical Officer, First Fleet Journal.

 Friday 29th February of 1788 shaped as another busy day for the infant colony’s’ criminal court. It was decided, after the long drawn-out dramas of the previous two (2) days, as well as to avoid Sydney’s intense midday sun and drenching humidity, court would convene earlier than usual. See: Blind Man’s Bluff

At 8 am convicts James Freeman and William Shearman, accused the previous day of stealing from government stores, were the first to appear in the dock. Both were found guilty but while Shearman was sentenced to 300 lashes Freeman was condemned to death the execution to take place that same day.

Next to appear George Whitaker, Daniel Gordon and John Williams charged with stealing eighteen (18) bottles of wine. Whitaker was discharged but Gordon and Williams, both Afro – Americans, were found guilty and sentenced to hang with Freeman.

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ACT 2: BLIND MAN’S BLUFF – A DOUBLE BILL- HALL & LAVELL

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

‘The arm of a large tree was fixt upon as a gallows’. Arthur Bowes Smyth, Surgeon Lady Penrhyn, First Fleet  Journal, Australian Documents Library, 1979

1788 –  27 February, Sydney Cove: On that day four (4) convicts John Ryan, Thomas Barrett, Henry Lavell and Joseph Hall were accused ‘on shaky evidence’ of robbing or conspiring to rob food from the government storehouse. Found guilty all were sentenced to death with the execution to take place later that day.

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FROM HERE TO ETERNITY – THOMAS BARRETT

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

FROM HERE TO ETERNITY  – THOMAS BARRETT

 ‘The death penalty was brought to Australia with the First Fleet. Mike Richards, The Hanged Man, The Life and Death of Ronald Ryan, 2002

1788 – 27 February, Sydney Cove: One (1) month after disembarking from the ‘First Fleet’ Thomas Barrett was hanged. His execution was public theatre staged to instil terror into all spectators; be they convict, soldier, sailor or the silent, unseen locals – The First Australians.

A small plaque at the corner of Harrington and Essex Streets in Sydney’s Rocks area marks Barrett’s fleeting presence in Australia.

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JOHN M’ENTIRE – DEATH OF A SURE THING

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

‘Phillip was authorised to see to the defence of the colony’. Professor Bruce Kercher, History of Law in Australia, Allen & Unwin, 1995

1790 – December, Sydney: By December 1790 Governor Captain Arthur Phillip RN knew ‘certain officers’ of the newly arrived New South Wales Corps (June 1790) – led by Lieutenant John Macarthur an ambitious junior officer – were circling the tents.

In Phillip’s judgement the Pitt Administration in far off England was in danger of losing New South Wales Australia) her gateway to India,  Asia and Spanish South America.

The threat however did not come from the First Nations’ Peoples as, the previous year 1789, 50% of local Eora Aborigines had contracted smallpox and were dead. The survivors were struggling to regroup. See: A Lethal Weapon Smallpox – Boston 1775 – Sydney 1789

1790 – 9 December, Botany Bay: ‘On the 9th of the month, a serjeant of marines, with three convicts, among whom was M’Entire, the governor’s game-keeper (the person of whom Bannelon had, on former occasions, shewn so much dread and hatred) went out on a [kangaroo] shooting party’. Marine Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

Governor Phillip knew a serious threat to King and Country came from within the ranks of the military. Isolated without naval support in the midst of a hostile soldiery he had but one option in his armoury – diversion, one (1) sure arrow, the ‘hated’ convict John M’Entire.  Missing in Action HMS Sirius & HMS Supply

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THE IRISH & THE ENGLISH KING IN AUSTRALIA

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

‘In 1800 and 1801 many hundreds of Irish prisoners arrived, pushing the percentage of Irish to more than one-third of those under sentence and one-quarter of the white population. Governor King nervously estimated that more than half of the recent arrivals were Catholic ‘Defenders’, summarily transported  for their part in the massive Irish rebellion of 1798′. Marian Quartly, Creating a Nation 1788-1990, Chapter 2, 1990

1800 – September, Sydney: Governor Lieutenant Phillip Gidley King RN succeeded Governor Captain John Hunter RN who had been recalled to England took up his commission on Hunter’s departure in September 1800.

King found himself juggling many balls; an unruly soldiery, a tsunami of grog, French colonial ambition and a simmering Irish rebellion. The Irish, many sentenced to death following the uprisings of 1798 on home soil, were reprieved death on condition of transportation to Australia, and these appeared to pose the most immediate threat.

A mixed bunch most poor illiterates, others were educated men; General Joseph Holt a militant Protestant, Rev. Henry Fulton an Episcopalian minister and Father James Harold a Catholic priest with two (2) British army officers Captains Alcock and St. Ledger.

1800 – 11 January, Sydney: At the beginning of 1800 these five (5) men were among one hundred and ninety-one (191) prisoners, twenty-six (26) of them women, who arrived aboard the convict transport Minerva in January 1800. See: G for Gender

Minerva and another convict ship Friendship sailed together from Cork on 24 August 1799. Friendship with one hundred and thirty-three male (133) prisoners. During the voyage of one hundred and forty (140) days via Rio one (1) in seven (7) prisoners died. Father James Dixon a Catholic priest and Paddy Galvin were among the survivors. See: G for Genocide

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ALICE – DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE WITH KING

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

‘A knowledge of the position of the military and their immediate friends occupied from 1792-1810, affords a key to the whole history of the colony; and without this knowledge many important transactions, affecting the civil, social and political  interests of the community would appear almost incomprehensible’. Samuel Bennett,Australian Discovery and Colonisation, Vol. 1 to 1800.

1800 – 15 April, Sydney: Lieutenant Phillip Gidley King RN, Britain’s third naval governor of New Holland, Australia, arrived in the colony aboard HMS Speedy in the middle of April 1800.

Gidley King delivered Captain John Hunter RN, the incumbent governor, a Home Office dispatch dated 5 November 1799;  ‘severely censured Hunter and ordered him to return to England by the first safe conveyance’.

Tragically for both the colony and Australia’s First Peoples, London could not have devised a more destabilising arrangement than King’s ‘anomalous…dormant commission’ effective only if Governor Hunter ‘died or was absent from the colony’.  

‘It is probable, therefore, that the home department was not prepared to give King the full appointment of governor-in-chief in the year 1799…[His] limited commission was practically the appointment of a locum tenens or a  governor-in-chief on probation, and was recognised as such by both King and the English officials, when it became operative’. Commentary, Historical Records of Australia, Series 1, Vol 3.

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MACHIAVELLIAN MACARTHUR

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

1792 – 12 December, Sydney: Governor Arthur Phillip RN, after five (5) traumatic years as Britain’s first Governor of New South Wales and repeated requests for repatriation, sailed home to England in the Atlantic on 12 December 1792.

Phillip had recommended Lieutenant Gidley King replace him. Whitehall not only rejected Gidley King but government failed to commission an immediate successor.

‘Twenty- five [25] regiments of British infantry served in the colonies between [June] 1790 and 1870 they participated in the great struggle at the heart of the European conquest of this continent…’for the first half of their stay were probably more frequently in action than the garrison of any other colony besides that of southern Africa’. Dr Peter Stanley, The Remote Garrison, 1986, Kangaroo Press, 1986

By default between December 1792 and September 1795 ; ‘the plentitude of power’ Britain vested in its naval governors fell into the hands of the military, exposing the First Australians to the brutality of British infantry troops.

For the length of the interregnum the British government was greatly at fault’. Hunter, J.J. Auchmuty, Australian Dictionary of Biography

1794 – 6 February, London: Eventually Captain John Hunter RN,  hero of the ‘First Fleet’ expeditionary force, was; ‘commission[ed] as captain-general and governor-in-chief’ at the beginning of February 1794 [he] did not sail until 25 February 1795′.

1790 – June, Sydney: First contingent of infantry, the infamous New South Wales Corps, had arrived in June 1790 aboard the second fleet Britain’s Grim Armada’. See: Dancing With Slavers – A Second Fleet

‘A knowledge of the position of the military and their immediate friends occupied from 1792- 1810, affords a key to the whole history of the colony; and without this knowledge many important transactions, affecting the civil, social and political interests of the community would appear almost incomprehensible’. Samuel Bennett, Australian Discovery and Colonisation Vol. 1 to 1800, Facsimile Edition, 1981.

Major Francis Grose the Corps’ commander remained in London to recruit and satisfy establishment requirements. There was intense dissension within officer ranks and Lieutenant John Macarthur, a junior officer, moved swiftly to fill the command vacuum. See: A Black Hole: The First Interregnum 1792-1795

1795 – September 7, Sydney: Governor John Hunter RN arrived 7 September 1795 and assumed office four days later.   (more…)