Posts Tagged ‘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…)


Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

On 17th March 1790, a small paragraph appeared in the Times announcing that William Bligh, fresh from his remarkable voyage across the Pacific, was expected in London later that afternoon. He had arrived in Portsmouth three days earlier’. John Toohey, Captain Bligh’s Portable Nightmare, 1998

1790 –  Portsmouth, March: Eager to give testimony to the Admiralty and put his side of the ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ story Captain William Bligh RN arrived in England on the 14th March 1790.

The small paragraph became a story of blazing headlines. The ‘daffodil effect’  there was much more than Bligh’s side to that story.

1789 – 28 April, mid-ocean: A year earlier, at gun-point in the early hours of the morning, Lieutenant Fletcher Christian, Captain Bligh’s second-in-command on HMS Bounty,forced his commander with eighteen (18) fellow crew off the ship and into a small oared cutter.

Despite having little food and water, scorched by sun and wind, they survived forty-eight (48) days in the open boat.

Bligh made the lives of his fellow castaways a misery as they rowed and nudged their drifting craft towards land.

It must be said however, without Bligh’s excellent celestial navigating skills, none might have survived the 3600 miles (6400km) voyage to Dutch West Timor.

Only one (1) crewman John Norton did not make it to Timor. He was stoned to death when the group landed on Tofra Island to collect water.



Thursday, May 6th, 2010

1792 – March, Cape Town: ‘They [Botany Bay escapees] had miscarried in a heroic struggle for liberty after having combated every hardship and conquered every difficulty’. Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961.

1792 – Cape of Good Hope, March: Captain Tench, aboard HMS Gorgan en-route from Sydney to England with returning ‘First Fleet’ marines  stranded at Sydney Cove since January 1788 was astounded when some of eleven (11) convicts who the previous year (March 1791) had escaped from Sydney, sailed into Table Bay, aboard Hoonwey a Dutch vessel as prisoners of Captain Edward Edwards RN . See: HMS Gorgan and the Botany Bay Escapees

The Admiralty had given Captain Edwards command of HMS Pandora and sent him to Tahiti where the Bounty mutineers had settled. He was to bring them to England to face court-martial. See: Pandora’s Box 



Friday, March 13th, 2009

‘Four [4] companies of Marines landed with the first Europeans to settle in Australia’. Introduction, Dr. Peter Stanley, The Remote Garrison, The British Army in Australia 1788-1870, Kangaroo Press, Sydney, 1986   


‘Every morning from daylight until the sun sank did we sweep the horizon  in the hope of seeing a sail’. Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. L.F. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, Sydney 1961 


‘Perched precariously on the edge of an impenetrable continent, the threat of starvation constantly present, death was never remote from the tiny colony’. Dr. Bryan Gandevia, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 61 Part 1, 1975