Posts Tagged ‘pinchgut’


Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

‘The full force of laws against theft was imposed from the moment the expedition arrived in Sydney. At the end of February 1788 five [5] men were convicted of theft and condemned to death, illustrating that property was more sacrosanct than life itself.

The sentences were carried out at public hangings, which the whole convict population was forced to watch’. Henry Reynolds,  Searching for truth-telling, History, Sovereignty and The Uluru Statement From the Heart, NewSouth Publishing, 2021


‘Few personal documents relating to [Governor Arthur] Phillip survive; his low personal profile and the secret work in which he was sometimes involved make him one of the least-known founders of any modern state – in this case Australia’. Nigel Rigby, Peter Van Der Merwe & Glyn Williams, Voyages of Discovery from Captain Cook’s Endeavour to the Beagle, National Maritime Museum Greenwich, Bloomsbury, Adlard Coles, 2018


1788 –  27 February, Sydney Cove: Four (4) convicts John Ryan, Thomas Barrett, Henry Lavell and Joseph Hall stood before a hastily  convened military court accused ‘on shaky evidence’ of robbing or conspiring to rob food from the government storehouse.

‘Just three [3] weeks before half a continent had been declared Crown land in one of the most remarkable acts of plunder in modern times.’. Henry Reynolds. op.cit.

Found guilty all were sentenced to death. The execution to take place later that same day.

‘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

These four (4) men were mates. Their strong friendship had been forged during three (3) difficult years imprisoned in Dunkirk a prison-hulk moored in the River Thames. See Mutiny on Mercury and Swift

Under the ‘gallows tree’ pressure was brought to bear on John Ryan the youngest; ‘he turned king’s evidence [and] his irons were removed’.

At 5pm, Marine Captain James Campbell approached Mr Brewer the Provost Marshall with a twenty-four (24) hour stay-of-execution for Hall and Lavell and their nooses were removed.

No longer part of the action they became part of the audience.

Only Thomas Barrett died that day.   ‘The lifer who was the ringleader [was] launched into Eternity’. See: From Here to Eternity

‘The body hung for an hour and was then buried in a grave dug very near the gallows’. Lieutenant Ralph Clark, First Fleet Journal, Australian Documents Library, 1979