Category Archives: Settlement

Simmering tensions, 1851-1852

A tent city sprang into existence and the early diggers peacefully devised ways of organising the goldfields. [1] Nonetheless, the Victorian Government acted quickly sending Commissioners within weeks to collect the gold license fee. [2] The first Resident Gold Commissioner, … Continue reading

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Australia and Irish settlement: The Famine years

Unlike the United States and Britain, Australia did not receive a great flood of immigrants following the Great Famine. ‘Fast relief was necessary and Australia’s colonies offered no analgesic to the famine’s distress.’[1] The famine emigration came too early for … Continue reading

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Pre-famine Irish free settlement and policies

The Whig Government could not disclaim responsibility for the actions of the Emigration Committee but it had no mechanism in place before 1836 through which to exercise control. The services of the London Emigration Committee were dispensed with at the … Continue reading

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Pre-famine Irish free settler immigration

Despite the emphasis on the early convict settlements, free immigrants had settled in NSW from the earliest days of British Australia. Mass immigration to Australia, however, did not really get underway until around 1820 when the disruption caused by the … Continue reading

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Pre-famine Irish transportation: Van Diemen’s Land and elsewhere

Transportation to NSW ended in 1840, by which time a total of 150,000 convicts had been sent to the colonies from Britain and Ireland. Strictly speaking, no convicts were transported directly to the Port Phillip District of NSW. However, convicts … Continue reading

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Pre-famine Irish transportation: New South Wales

John Dunmore Lang noted that the Irish were sent almost exclusively to NSW. He went on to observe that no less than one-third of the total population of the colony of NSW in 1837 was composed of Irish Catholics, of … Continue reading

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Australia: Pre-famine Irish emigration

The First Fleet settled at Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788 and NSW became a British penal colony. Convicts greatly outnumbered free settlers and most prisoners were transported for terms of 7 or 14 years, but some went for life. … Continue reading

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Norfolk Island: A final flourish

There were minor disturbances in 1841, 1842 and 1843 but a more violent affair in 1846. [1] Joseph Childs, commandant from 1844 to 1846, proved to be no match for the hardened convicts largely because he had no experience of … Continue reading

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Norfolk Island: Rebellion in 1834

Convict rebellions were a feature of Norfolk Island almost from its foundation but their incidence intensified after 1825. In September 1826, an attempt was made by convicts to escape from the island by boat, having been told that there was … Continue reading

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‘Hell in Paradise’

The ways in which Norfolk Island was regarded in the nineteenth century have led to stories to be told that do not correspond to its reality. The Norfolk Island legend has several defining characteristics that include assumptions that the prisoners … Continue reading

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Rebellion on Norfolk Island: Foveaux and rebellion in 1800

There had been attempted convict rebellions in 1789 and 1794 and this situation intensified with the arrival on the island in early November 1800 of a group of United Irish prisoners, several of whom had been implicated in conspiracies in … Continue reading

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Settling Norfolk Island

Convict resistance was widespread in NSW and then VDL in the decades following the unsuccessful rebellion in 1804. The major reason why there were no further large-scale rebellions on mainland Australia was that recalcitrant convicts were increasingly isolated in punishment … Continue reading

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A Conclusion: What was the ‘Rum Rebellion’?

The ‘Rum Rebellion’ had nothing to do with rum.  Almost no one at the time of the rebellion thought it was about rum. Bligh briefly tried to give it that spin to smear his opponents, but there was no evidence … Continue reading

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The Rum Rebellion: Restoring legitimacy

Following Bligh’s overthrow Johnston had notified his superior officer, Colonel William Paterson[1], who was in Tasmania establishing a settlement at Port Dalrymple (now Launceston) of events. Paterson was reluctant to get involved until clear orders arrived from England.[2] When he … Continue reading

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The Rum Rebellion: Purging Bligh

Those who had taken power were not confined by the effective operation of the rule of law, save insofar as ultimate retribution from London was anticipated.[1] Until a superior officer to Johnston arrived six months after the coup, John Macarthur … Continue reading

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