‘The ‘Botany Bay Medallion’ a skillfully engraved metal medallion inscribed with a relief description of the voyage dated 20 January 1788 and a representation of the Charlotte riding at anchor at Botany Bay.  Mollie Gillen, Founders of Australia,

image of charlotte medal

Thomas Barrett is thought to ‘have been the maker of the Botany Bay Medallion.’ Also known as the Charlotte Medal,  it measures 74 mm (3 inches).

One side bears a precise reckoning of the First Fleet’s gruelling eight (8) months voyage across 13,000 miles (21,000 km) of largely ‘imperfectly explored oceans’ from England to conquer New Holland, now Australia.

It appears to have been fashioned from a silver-coloured metal medical dish owned most likely by Dr. John White the fleet’s chief medical officer.

The face of the medal depicts Charlotte  one (1) of the fleet’s six (6) convict transports – Alexander, Friendship, Lady Penrhyn, Prince of Wales and Scarborough, chartered by the British government to ship 750 convicted criminals  (570 males, 190 women) from England to Australia, together with three (3) stores-ships, Golden Grove, Borrowdale and Fishburn.

Marine Lieutenant William Dawes was, according to Professor G.A Wood, the ‘scholar of the ‘First Fleet’.  Only Dawes could have supplied Barrett with the extraordinary technical information that makes the medallion unique.

Sailed/ the Charlotte of/London from Spit Head the13 of May 1787. Bound for Botany Bay in the Island of New Holland/ arriv’d at Teneriff the 4th June in/Lat 28.13N/Long 42.38 W depart’d it 10 arriv’d at Rio Janeiro 6 of Aug in/ Lat 22.54 S Long 42.38 W depart’d it the 5 Sept arriv’d at the Cape of Good Hope the/ 14 Octr in Lat 34.29 Lon S 18.29 E/depart’d it the 13 of Novr and made the/ South Cape of New Holland the 8 of/ Jany 1788 in Lat 43.32 S/Long 146.56E/arrived Botany Bay/ the 20 of Jany the Charlotte in Co in/ lat 34.00 South Long 151.00 East/ Distance [distance] from Great Britain/miles/13106.

Escorted by two (2) warships – HMS Sirius and HMS Supply – the large convoy of eleven ships (11) with a complement of 1,500 souls commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN, reached Botany Bay between the 18 to 20th January 1788.

‘War is A grave affair of state; It is a place Of life and death, A road To survival and extinction, A matter To be pondered carefully’. Sun-Tzu, C. 551-496 BC, translated John Minford, Penguin Books, 2009 

On 26th January 1788 the fleet sailed nine (9) miles (14 km) north to Sydney Cove in Port Jackson.  There Arthur Phillip, now Governor Phillip, without consent or treaty, claimed British sovereignty over New Holland ‘from Cape York…to South Cape’ and established a permanent military and naval presence to protect Britain’s ‘highway to Asia’ .

‘New Holland is a good blind, then, when we want to add  to the military strength of India…I need not enlarge on the benefit of stationing a large body of troops in New South Wales…no person shall ever know whence this proceeds, and I give my honor not a hint of it shall ever transpire’, I am – Anon’. Historical Records of New South Wales

See: A Fiddle -The Cat and the Riddle – When was an Invasion fleet not an Invasion fleet?  

‘In determining the ration no distinction was drawn between the marines and the [570 male ] 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.

Thomas Barrett had been banished from his homeland for ‘the term of his natural life’. On Wednesday 27th February 1788; ‘the arm of a large tree was fixed upon as a gallows’

A month after disembarking in Sydney Cove and, what must have been only a matter of days after he completed the medallion, Thomas Barrett,  became the first Englishman hanged in Australia. See: A Vicious Circle – The Hangman’s Noose

‘It was sometime before the [hang]man [a fellow convict] could be prevailed upon to execute his office nor would he at last have complied had not…Major Ross threatened to give orders to the marines to shoot him.

The body hung for an hour and was then buried in a grave dug very near the gallows.’ First Fleet Journal, John White, Chief Medical Officer’. See: From Here to Eternity

Aside from a small plaque fixed at the corner of Essex and Harrington Streets in Sydney’s Rocks district Thomas Barrett’s fleeting presence in Australia goes un- remarked.

On 23 July 2008 the private owner of the ‘Botany Bay Medallion’ offered it at public auction as the ‘Charlotte Medal’.

A grant of two hundred-thousand $(200,000) AUD from the National Cultural Heritage Account assisted in its purchase for the nation for $ one million (1,000,000) AUD by the Australian Maritime Museum where it is on permanent display at Darling Harbour, Sydney Cove.

Britain’s invasion of Australia’s First Nations’ Peoples is;  ‘A matter To be pondered carefully’ by the beneficences of that invasion ‘and from all the lands on earth we come’. 

Post Script:

Do we know who was made to kill Thomas Barrrett? In all probability. However further investigation would require consent from his descendants.

See: Arthur Phillip – The Spy Who Never Came In From The Cold

And what of William Dawes the ‘man of letters….of science, explorer, mapmaker, student of language of anthropology, teacher and philanthropist’ and humanitarian who served two (2) terms as Governor of Sieera Leone where African slaves who fought alongside British Loyalists who ?????????

o the fleets ‘scientific officer, would have supplied Barrett with the extraordinary amount of technical information inscribed on its obverse.

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