Posts Tagged ‘james boswell’

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, prominent diarist and lawyer, appeared for the defence in a most extraordinary case.

His clients 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] with ‘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 about 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…)

HMS GORGON & THE ‘BOTANY BAY ESCAPEES’

Friday, March 13th, 2009

‘I confess that I never looked at these people [Botany Bay escapees] without pity and astonishment. They had miscarried in a Heroic struggle for liberty after having combated every hardship and conquered every difficulty’. Watkin Tench aboard HMS Gorgan, Cape Town March 1792. Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson 1961

1790 – 17 December, Sydney: Just in the nick of time to save the Sydney settlement from disaster Waaksamheyd a Dutch ship hired by Lieutenant Henry Ball RN (HMS Supply) at Jakarta, reached Port Jackson laden with food and medicines for the starving Englishmen, women and children marooned there since January 1788.

1791 – 21 September: Nearly a year later HMS Gorgan arrived from England tasked with returning the marine officers of Sydney Garrison to England.

1791 – 28 March: Six (6) months earlier, in March 1790, the hustle and bustle surrounding Waaksamheyd’s  departure had helped divert attention when, at midnight on the 28th, convicts William and Mary Bryant, their children Charlotte three (3) years and baby Emanuel, with seven (7) convict companions, oars muffled on a stolen rowing boat – Governor Phillip’s own cutter – slipped silently out of Sydney Harbour and set course for Timor.

‘In writing of the recruitment of criminals into the armed forces, Stephen Conway observed, ‘It was still found necessary periodically to clear both the putrid and congested gaols and the equally overcrowded and insanitary hulks’. Conway, cited Alan Frost, Botany  Bay Mirages, Melbourne University Press, 1994.

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