Duchene / Hargraves


ALEXANDRE JULIEN DUCHENE was not even four years into a fourteen year sentence in Van Diemen’s Land in 1840 when Major D’Arcy Wentworth, the Police Magistrate at Launceston, described him as ‘a man of most exemplary conduct’.

Edward Hammond Hargraves, was less than two years into enjoying his claim to have started the Australian gold rushes, when, in 1852 D’Arcy Wentworth’s brother, W C Wentworth, a member of the New South Wales Parliament, described Hargaves as an ‘imposter’ in support of George McLeay’s opinion that Hargraves was ’a shallow and impudent pretender’.

After conducting a highly successful business in Launceston, Duchene moved to Melbourne in 1848 and became involved in the discovery of a rich goldfield in the Pyrenees Ranges, about three days west of Melbourne, but he decided not to dig for the gold. Instead, he publicized the discovery in the press, gave detailed directions to gold seekers, and applied to the government for a reward and appointment as Goldfields Commissioner. Port Phillip Superintendent Charles La Trobe quickly acted to disperse the gold rush and later consulted with Governor Charles Fitz Roy, who refused Duchene his reward and commission, but secretly asked London to send a qualified minerals surveyor to ascertain the truth of such reports, not only at the Pyrenees, but also closer to Sydney.

Rejected by the government, Duchene sailed for California in April 1849 and was soon followed by Edward Hargraves, who was desperately looking for an easy way of making money—something that had eluded him for years. Coincidentally Hargraves visited the Californian Goldfields at the same time as Duchene, and met people who willingly shared their knowledge, and secrets. On the goldfields Duchene willingly shared how he found gold ‘three or four days journey from Sydney’ (most Americans had never heard of Melbourne) and had unsuccessfully sought a reward and government appointment. By remarkable coincidence, or perhaps not, Edward Hargraves now decided he would return to Australia where he would not only look for gold west of Sydney, but also ask for a reward and government appointment.

In January 1851 Hargraves travelled three or four days from Sydney, and with the help of others, found widespread indications of gold. Like Duchene, he decided not to dig for the gold himself, but publicized the discovery in the press, and gave detailed directions to gold seekers. Like Duchene, he also applied to the government a reward and appointment as Goldfields Commissioner.

Instead of immediately acting to protect the gold field, as La Trobe had done in 1849, Fitz Roy consulted with his newly-arrived surveyor, but by then was too late to disperse the rush instigated by Hargraves. Nothing could be done but allow the goldfield to be exploited. Within months the value of the goldfield originally reported at the Pyrenees by Duchene was also confirmed. In the end, Hargraves’s wish was granted; Duchene’s was not.

This book looks at the lives of Duchene and Hargraves, lived entirely separately, until they both arrived in San Francisco towards the end of 1849. It also looks at the reasons that Duchene was considered ‘a man of most exemplary conduct’, while Hargraves was dismissed by many as an impostor and impudent pretender. Importantly, this book also raises the question of whether Hargraves developed his plan to look for gold west of Sydney only after hearing about Duchene’s earlier quest.

Reviews of Duchene/Hargraves

Reviewed by Babette Smith, OAM, Adjunct Lecturer in History, University of New England; author of Australia’s Birthstain; A Cargo of Women: Susannah Watson & the Convicts of the Princess Royal; and The Luck of the Irish.

“Was Edward Hammond Hargraves, known to Australians as ‘the discoverer of gold’ in fact pre-empted by an ex-convict Frenchman named Alexandre Duchene? Douglas Wilkie’s research demonstrates he was. In a fascinating untangling of fact from fiction he deconstructs Hargraves claims and character by tracking him from his first decade as a free settler during the forties in New South Wales, through his time on the Californian goldfields and the familiar story of his return and the subsequent gold rush

“Far from noting geological features in California that were similar to Bathurst, as he later wrote, Hargraves almost certainly heard Alexandre Duchene’s story of his 1849 discovery and his rejection by the authorities in Victoria when both men were on the same goldfield in California. … Duchene’s find in Victoria started a ‘rush’ which was quickly squashed by Lieutenant Governor La Trobe. The Frenchman received no reward and his application for appointment as Gold Commissioner was rejected. A year later, Hargraves by comparison triggered an unstoppable ‘rush’ and gained credit as well as reward for his ‘discovery’. No small factor in his success was how he ensured that the rush started on a grand scale before he negotiated with the authorities.

“This is no simple story however.  The detail Wilkie has uncovered reveals a complex situation in which politics, economics, greed and self-aggrandisment all played their part. Politically the separation of Port Phillip from New South Wales (1850) was a factor of local significance. London on the other hand was concerned that nothing should disrupt the profitable wool trade. At a personal level, achieving stability, let alone making a fortune, was a precarious business for free settlers in New South Wales who had arrived since the penal colony ended. Wilkie vividly portrays their interrelated land speculation, business opportunism, profits and bankruptcies, particularly on the Central Coast where Edward Hargraves was active.

“Duchene, Hargraves and their claims about gold form a picaresque narrative of people surviving on their wits. Infused with Wilkie’s humour and founded on deep scholarly research, it is a treasure trove of detail. For the specialist like this reviewer, every morsel of information is relished and potentially valuable. For instance, Wilkie’s examination of European settlement on the Central Coast not only casts light on the tenor of Australian society in the forties, it also provides useful context for understanding early land speculation in New Zealand.

“Mark Twain described Australian history as ‘full of lies’. Unfortunately we didn’t deconstruct the lies early enough.  For too long we accepted a conformist pioneer story that emphasised exploration, ‘tame’ Aborigines, valiant European battles against an unfriendly wilderness and a parade of hollow heroes. Historians detected the lack of authenticity but could not explain it. Douglas Wilkie has researched deeply enough to expose a version around the discovery of gold that is both factual and more colourful than the superficial respectability previously offered.”

Duchene/Hargraves has also been reviewed by Babette Smith in The Journal of Australian Colonial History, Vol. 18, Jul 2016, pp. 229-230

Reviewed by  Dr Julie Kimber, Senior lecturer in History and Politics, Swinburne University; Co-editor, Journal of Australian Studies

“Douglas Wilkie’s book is an intricate portrait of the parallel lives of two men who would play a significant role in the gold rushes on the east coast of Australia: Alexandre Julien Duchene, unheralded and largely unknown; and Edward Hammond Hargraves, a controversial figure, whose name remains etched in the school books of the nation. In tracing their lives, Wilkie delivers to us a vast portrait of the European personalities who populated the early colonies of eastern Australia, among them prostitutes and politicians, petty villains and political prisoners.

Wilkie begins by unpicking long accepted elements of Hargraves’ biography—laying bare, in minute detail, contradictions in his story and offering up alternatives to its distortions. In doing so we see Hargraves as both fabulist and opportunist, a man on the make intent on leaving his mark. The story moves to Duchene, a Frenchman transported to the colonies, and documents his attempts first to be reunited with his wife, and second, to make his fortune.

Through dogged archival research, Wilkie broadens his focus and by examining the connections between these two otherwise unconnected men we can discern the complicated lives of early settlers, the vagaries and misfortunes, and the opportunities of dubious integrity offered up by the colonial project.

This is a story of how ordinary lives shape a society and how differing political realities shape the fortunes of ordinary lives. It is a fascinating story for a number of reasons, not least because of where this takes the reader: its geographical scope extends from the streets and court rooms of Britain, to the colonies of Australia and New Zealand, and to the gold rushes in North America.

Duchene/Hargraves is a story rich in intrigue and innuendo, the inevitable consequence of the ‘narrow habitations’ of the European colonies of Australia. It is brought to life by Wilkie’s historical imagination and his prodigious research. And, because of its intimate lens and expansive nature, it will be of great interest to those curious about the east coast’s transition from convict to “free” society.”

Reviewed by Beth D Kicinski, Content and Design Manager, Ballarat and District Industrial Heritage Project (Federation University Australia)

Duchene/Hargraves is a true readers’ book. And not just any old readers, but those who seek to lose themselves in the dark corners of intrigue. This is not the typical dry history of the genesis of Australia’s industrial heritage, but an absorbing “Who Dunnit?” styled unfolding of the past. What is revealed is an ensemble cast whose lives intersect in the most remarkable of ways to create a complex narrative of hope and disillusionment. Like all truly memorable crime thrillers Duchene/Hargraves resolves the central storyline through carefully constructed reveals, but happily leaves several incidental moments of the story unresolved. The reader is left with possibilities of more.

“This book is a firm move away from histories of the first and the greatest to stories of people who were just doing what people do. In Alexandre Duchene we see the way in which “the other” has become an integral part of us; and the sensitive re-presentation of the recognisable figure of Edward Hargraves subtly interrogates the role of such diabolical heroes in the Australian identity.

“Douglas Wilkie’s dedication to researching with carefully balanced heart and mind these two important figures in Australia’s nineteenth century history is obvious throughout Duchene/Hargraves. He cross-examines the evidence with the thoughtfulness of a well-tried barrister. He self-consciously pushes at, but never breaks, the boundaries of believability. And his rich use of carefully-referenced factual information makes this a proper go-to resource that will sit proudly in any library.”


Prologue  4

The Story   4

Maps & Illustrations  13

Part One

Edward Hammond Hargraves  26

The Arrival 29

The Wave & The Enchantress  32

William Northwood   36

The Clémentine  37

The Red Rover  45

Captain Thomas Hector  49

The Arrival of the Canton   56

Part Two

Four Fashionable Foreigners  62

59 Yards of Lavender Silk   63

Qui moi?  65

The Chère Amie of a Noble Lord   69

Ernest de Mircourt  72

The Trial 73

The Appeal 76

The Journey of the Henry Porcher  77

Justice In England   78

The Concerns of Brutus  80

The Mysterious Madame Victoire  84

Part Three

Connections  88

Parramatta  97

Dapto Creek   100

Alfred Holden   103

Launceston   104

Speculators & Private Towns  105

Toongabbie  108

Brisbane Water  110

Eliza’s Dowry?  113

The Hay Smith Family   114

New Zealand   120

The Treaty of Waitangi 129

Part Four

A Man of Most Exemplary Conduct  137

The Abercrombie  148

East Gosford   151

Financing the store  156

Dissatisfaction sets in   161

Desperate Measures  167

The Elusive Fox   168

Moveable Hotels  175

Part Five

A Foreigner of Great Respect  182

Court Appearances  188

John Lewis Crabb   190

Hanged, drawn and quartered   202

Charles Brentani 206

Part Six

Hard Times  211

Simpson Davison   215

Selling the Store  215

Robin Hood & Little John   218

New Zealand Again?  218

John Mackie Departs  220

Real Estate  220

Dr Ludwig Leichardt  222

Part Seven

Thomas Chapman   229

Cattle, Land & Timber  232

Selling the Store – Again! 235

My Cattle Station on the Manning  238

J F B Marshall 240

Robert Searle  243

Douglass vs. Horsburgh   247

William Bucknell 250

Edward Gostwyck Cory   251

Susannah Freshney   256

Fat Cattle  259

Getting Rich Without Working  261

Port Phillip   264

Part Eight

California  274

The Death Ship   276

The Elizabeth Archer  278

San Francisco  282

Three or Four Days Journey   283

Marysville  290

Let no man leave his wife. 292

Grass Valley   294

Hargraves Announces His Plan   296

The Boy in the Dog Star  302

Surveyor Stutchbury Arrives  306

Part Nine

Three or Four Days from Sydney   309

James Norton’s letter  313

William Northwood   316

Enoch Rudder  317

Bathurst  319

William Northwood’s Fortune  344

The Coarse & Tasteless Mr Hargraves  348

Part Ten

The End of an Earthly Career  358

Gentlemanly Characters  361

Sources & Annotations  369

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1849 The Rush That Never Started: Forgotten origins of the 1851 gold rushes in Victoria

1849 Blurb 5x8 Cover 006

Many people have the impression that the Victorian gold rushes not only began in mid-1851, but also occurred in response to discoveries earlier in that year near Bathurst, west of Sydney. Not so! The Victorian gold rushes of 1851 were a direct consequence of a largely forgotten gold discovery two years earlier in the Pyrenees Ranges of the Port Phillip District.
This is the story of how, in the summer of 1849, one shepherd and three ex-convicts started a gold rush involving hundreds of Melbourne residents. It is the story of how the shepherd disappeared leading to speculation about whether he was murdered or left the country with a fortune. It is the story of how one of the ex-convicts, a Frenchman, publicised the discovery, started a rush, and claimed a reward from Superintendent Charles La Trobe. La Trobe refused; the Frenchman went to California where he told his story; and Edward Hargraves returned to Australia and did exactly the same near Bathurst. It is the story of how another of the ex-convicts subsequently denied there was ever a gold field, but suddenly became very rich and, within three years, purchased no fewer than twelve Melbourne properties. These are the little people, forgotten by big histories.

Many histories have portrayed Charles La Trobe, the Superintendent of the Port Phillip District, as an indecisive and ineffective governor. Again—not so! This book explains how how La Trobe’s attitude towards gold exploitation prior to 1851 originated in his desire to advance the interests of Port Phillip as an independent colony, and how La Trobe discouraged gold mining until after Port Phillip’s separation from New South Wales to ensure the revenue would be expended solely for Victoria’s benefit. There was widespread dissatisfaction with the inequitable distribution of Port Phillip revenue by the New South Wales government in Sydney. This was one of the causes of ongoing competition, even antagonism, between Sydney and Melbourne that still exists today. To open a gold field while Port Phillip was still part of New South Wales would be to hand the benefits to Sydney.

This book demonstrates that the actions of those accredited with the 1851 gold discoveries, such as Edward Hargraves, were influenced by the actions of those involved in 1849 Pyrenees discovery, and shows how natural environmental events such as drought, flood and bush fires also played an influential role the discovery of gold both in 1849 and in 1851—it was no so much gold-mining that affected the environment, but environmental factors that actually facilitated gold discovery.
In particular this book challenges the explanations given by such eminent historians such as AGL Shaw and Geoffrey Blainey – hence the title that alludes to Blainey’s history of the Australian mining industry, The Rush That Never Ended.

Not only does this story provide a new insight into the origins of the Victorian gold rushes, but also provides a fascinating account of the lives of several key protagonists in the 1849 episode – Alexandre Duchene a Frenchman and a watchmaker; Charles Brentani, an Italian and an entrepreneurial businessman; and Joseph Forrester, a Scot and a silversmith. All were ex-convicts from Van Diemen’s Land And there was Thomas Chapman, the shepherd, and an ‘exile’ to Port Phillip. These were the little people—long forgotten in big histories. This is their story.

The narrative that forms the central part the book provides a more nuanced picture of the social, political and environmental connections linking the old pastoral society of 1849 Port Phillip to the emerging minerals based economy of Victoria after 1851 than has previously existed, and explains the circumstances of the Victorian gold discoveries of 1851 in ways that challenge many long-standing traditional explanations.

A letter from Professor Geoffrey Blainey, author of The Rush That Never Ended:

‘Congratulations on “1849”. You are a talented researcher. You must continue at your craft.’

What the critics say:

Professor Emerita Susan Ballyn, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain: “…covers new and unexplored ground regarding the first discovery of gold in Australia and of the socio/politics of the time that left this event relatively unexplored and relegated to mere references even in the work of historians such as Blainey.” “How does one collate such a huge amount of material into a coherent narrative without the main thrust of the thesis becoming blurred, obscured and basically a mere compendium of facts. Wilkie has managed this extremely well by the rigorous way he has dealt with the material.” “Wilkie discusses to a degree the reliability of historical narrative, the uncertainties that appear and how they must be dealt with and he points out that “The process of determining the degree of possibility, probability and certainty surrounding some of the events described in the narrative required … not only inductive logic, but also a degree of historiographical intuition”. At this Wilkie is not only exceptionally good, but also extremely careful as to how far one can push both inductive logic and historiographical intuition. His narrative is free of over hypothesisation or substantiating facts which cannot be determined by the documents used. Wilkie ends by stating ‘…while acknowledging that further analysis and research may provide explanations that differ from mine, I believe the narrative that follows does provide a reasonably sound and complete mechanism for understanding the events and decisions of the period.’ This is undoubtedly the case as Wilkie does fill the historical gap regarding the 1849 discovery of gold in a very credible way. In terms of the originality of this thesis and Wilkie’s ability to engage both with the wealth of material to hand and the production of a clear, constrained narrative uncluttered by unnecessary theoretical jargon, there is no doubt in my mind that he has produced a very finely wrought thesis. One of the things that is important to me as a thesis examiner is that I should be on a learning curve while reading … In the case of Wilkie’s thesis, this has certainly been the case…”

Dr David Roberts, Senior Lecturer, University of New England, Armidale, NSW: “… engaging and satisfying … I found this work somewhat refreshing … it demonstrated an intimacy and depth of knowledge that was persuasive and sometimes compelling … allowed us to get beneath the skin of the people, and to see possible connections between a variety of episodes, many of which have certainly been underappreciated and misunderstood in existing literature.” I liked the manner in which it moved from the revealing of an obscure and unappreciated episode—an 1849 gold discovery in the Pyrenees Ranges—to a broader exposition of political and social circumstances shaping the Port Phillip district in the troubled years preceding its separation from New South Wales. [The author has succeeded] in presenting a vast accumulation of data in a manner that was coherent and convincing, with sufficient signposting of both story and argument, and that is an achievement not to be underestimated.”

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1849: The Rush That Never Started (ISBN: 9781320625470) can be purchased through Blurb (40% discount until 18 October 2016 by entering code ‘FAM40’ when ordering): 1849: The Rush That Never Started

1849: The Rush That Never Started (ISBN: 9781320575751) can also be purchased from Amazon USA; or Amazon UK; Wheelers (Aust); Readings (Aust); The Book Depository (UK); and other online retailers.


1849: The Rush That Never Started can be found in the following libraries:

Bailleau Library (The University of Melbourne)

State Library of Queensland

State Library of Victoria

 National Library of Australia

 Prahran Mechanics Institute Library

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The Journal of Madame Callegari

Madame Callegari Cover 13 August 2015 001

WHO WAS MADAME CALLEGARI? Was she one of these?

  • The Transported Convict
  • The Venetian Merchant’s Wife
  • The Heroine of the Californian Goldrushes
  • The Adventurer of the Mexican Jungles
  • The Celebrity of European Literary Circles
  • The Plantation Owner of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec

No. Madame Callegari was not just one of these. In fact, she was all of these.

Early in 1855, a thirty-six-year-old French woman approached Alexandre Dumas in Paris, and asked him to edit, and publish, her account of ten years spent travelling in Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, California and Mexico. Dumas agreed to her request, because her story was one of adventure and romance, and took this young lady, and her husband, to places seldom visited by young women. However, she insisted that, in publishing her story, her true identity should not be revealed. To achieve this they chose the pseudonym Madame Giovanni, and changed, or omitted, certain parts of the narrative which could have identified her. Since first publication, the true identity of Madame Giovanni was cause for speculation, and readers could not decide whether the story was true at all, or whether it was a mixture of fact and fiction. The Journal of Madame Callegari, researched over four years, and using archives from at least eight countries, reveals that Madame Marie Giovanni was in fact Madame Marie Callegari. Madame Callegari’s true adventures go far beyond those recorded by Alexandre Dumas in 1855. Yes, she visited all of the placed described by Dumas—Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, the Marquesas Islands, New Caledonia, Hawaii, California, and Mexico—but she also became involved in the Mexican civil war with President Santa Anna; she and her husband were granted a vast hacienda on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec; they came under attack by rebel troops who destroyed their farm; she witnessed American corruption on the Isthmus and reported it to President Ulysses S Grant; she was witness to great battles during the American Civil War and witnessed the siege of New Orleans. Eventually, late in life she tried to have published a sequel to her 1855 journal, but negotiations failed and her goal was not achieved. Now, for the first time we can read the story of Madame Callegari — the true story behind Alexandre Dumas’s 1855 Journal of Madame Giovanni, in the Journal of Madame Callegari. (414 pages, maps and Illustrations)


‘The Governor of London’s Coldbath Fields House of Correction remembered his young French prisoner as ‘a treacherous, bad woman’. Though ‘by no means handsome’, she possessed a ‘very high talent, remarkable for eloquence and tears’. Three decades later the same woman, now with an Italian name, introduced herself by letter to the American president Ulysses S. Grant, saying she was returning to Europe as a ‘traveler who certainly will be believed’. When Alexandre Dumas published in Paris the journal of her earlier travels, he may or may not have ‘believed’ her, but as one of the most famous writers of his day, he had an eye for a good story and hers was a dramatic tale of adventure and romance across continents and overseas. Douglas Wilkie has followed the paper trail left behind by this shape-changing adventurer with a flair for language and a sense of herself as the heroine in her own romance. Having tracked the stylish swindler through the archives of eight countries, he weaves together a meticulously researched account of an unexpected and utterly fascinating woman.’

Emeritus Professor Lucy Frost, The University of Tasmania

“After four years of meticulous research during which he was able to trace her movements around the world, Wilkie was able to reveal that Madame Marie Giovanni was certainly Madame Marie Callegari, a real woman who had visited most of the places described in Dumas’ book.

Douglas Wilkie has chosen to tell this fascinating story in the first voice, that of Madame Callegari herself, so we find her writing posthumously, telling why she chose to publish under a pseudonym and introducing us to her former self, the young woman known as Louisa La Grange … intriguing and well-told, from the wretchedness of prison and transportation followed by a pardon in Australia and then marriage to fellow-convict, the Venetian merchant Pietro Callegari, to their remarkable travels and sojourns in parts of the world rarely visited by a nineteenth century woman. … The original Dumas journal is written in the first person but here we find the voice enhanced with detailed facts and insights, drawn from Wilkie’s meticulous research. This remarkable attention to detail successfully draws the reader deeper into Madame Giovanni’s story, thus dissipating any initial unease; the end-notes are crucial as evidence of Madame Callegari’s claims. Wilkie writes ‘The Journal of Madame Callegari is what I believe Madame Callegari would have told us if she had the opportunity.’ He is to be congratulated on his achievement.”

Elaine Lewis, Author Left Bank Waltz, (Vintage 2006); Co-editor The French Australian Review.

“… a fascinating story from start to finish: not only the very notion that the true identity of Madame Callegari has remained hidden until now, but also the incredible story of Madame Callegari’s life and travels. The journal is bookended by the equally interesting story of the author’s own four year journey to uncover the truth and his essay on The Voice of Madame Callegari. As one would expect, the author’s choice to write the journal in the first person adds greatly to the pace and personal nature of the story and draws the reader in from the very beginning. … Astute readers … will no doubt be delighted to now be able to read the full story of Madame Callegari and her incredible life. This complete account is meticulously researched and a valuable and important contribution to the literature in the area of French-Australian Studies, given the time that Madame Callegari spent here and in the surrounding region. Readers everywhere can be very grateful that Douglas Wilkie came across Madame Callegari’s true identity, that he has set the record straight, and that he has shared her fascinating story with us.”

Dr Kerry Mullan, Senior lecturer, Coordinator French Studies, RMIT University Melbourne

The Journal of Madame Callegari, The True Story Behind Alexandre Dumas’s 1855 Journal de madame Giovanni, Douglas Wilkie, Historia Incognita, 2015, pp.410. ISBN 9781320395878

Review in History News, Issue No.322, Feb-Mar 2016 (Newsletter of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria), p.10.

[Using]… soundly based historical method and not fictional imaginings … [the author]  … takes the reader on a fascinating trail of historical detection …”

“The author convincingly shows that Madame Giovanni, the author of Alexandre Dumas’s publication of her journal, was not a fictional character but Madame Callegari whose travels took her away from Paris in 1843 to 1853. Convicted in London, sent to Van Diemen’s Land, she briefly visited Melbourne in 1848 and 1849. the journal is mostly about Van Diemen’s Land, and then the South Pacific, California and Mexico where her ‘adventures’ took her after serving her sentence. Wilkie has reconstructed Callegari’s life and rewritten her journal in the first person in what he shows to be soundly based historical method and not fictional imaginings. The journal first translated in 1944 is not well-known and the author has not only revealed its content but also takes the reader on a fascinating trail of historical detection.”

The Journal of Madame Callegari is also reviewed by the Société des Amis d’Alexandre Dumas

“Ouvrage présenté comme « La véritable histoire derrière le livre d’Alexandre Dumas : Journal de voyage d’une parisienne – Marie Giovanni ».

Douglas Wilkie, professeur à Melbourne University, fait paraître son livre The Journal of Madame Callegari présenté comme « La véritable histoire derrière le livre d’Alexandre Dumas : Journal de voyage d’une parisienne – Marie Giovanni« .

Alexandre Dumas a publié en effet en 1855 un journal de voyage dont une première version lui aurait été confiée par une dame se dissimulant sous le nom de Marie Giovanni.

Cette dame est souvent identifiée à Gabrielle-Anne Cisterne de Courtiras, épouse du Poilloüe de Saint-Mars, dite la comtesse Dash. Est-ce là la vérité ?

Douglas Wilkie a mené l’enquête et nous révèle la personnalité de Madame Callegari qui se cache derrière le nom de Giovanni…”

    Who was Madame Callegari? 1
    The Journal of Madame Callegari 5
    To My Readers 7
    Prologue: The Departure 9
    Isle de France 11
    Part One : The Merchant of Venice 17
    Awaiting Exportation 19
    Pietro Callegari & John De Castaños 27
    A Ship of Desperate Mutineers 35
    Van Diemen’s Land 37
    Barlatier Demas 39
    The Governor & the Forty Thieves 42
    Part Two : A Treacherous, Bad Woman 45
    Louise Mirabello 47
    Coldbath Fields House of Correction 54
    Viscountess La Grange 59
    You Have Abandoned Me 63
    Louise Mirabello Becomes Louisa La Grange 71
    Faithful Wives & Good Servants 76
    A Ship of Hysterical Women 80
    A Ship of Troublesome Characters 83
    Hobart 86
    A Gracious & Kind Governor 88
    Part Three : Madame Callegari 99
    Madame Callegari 101
    Polyglot Academy 102
    Mauritius 107
    Mount Wellington 111
    Curious Madrigals 118
    Le berger et le l’ingot d’or 124
    Freedom, Bellini & Governor’s Balls 129
    Part Four : South Pacific Adventures 139
    Sailing Ships 141
    Part Five : California— Un fichu pays 157
    San Francisco 159
    Twist’s Flat 166
    Honolulu 178
    Part Six : Mexico 185
    Acapulco 187
    President Santa Anna 194
    Mexico City 199
    Part Seven : Madame Giovanni 205
    Paris 207
    New York 214
    Tehuantepec 220
    War 228
    An Outrage at La Puerta 232
    United States of America 243
    President Ulysses S Grant 246
    Part Eight : A Quiet & Simple Life 257
    San Antonio 259
    The Heart of a Woman 268
    The Women of Mexico 273
    Postscript Postmortem 283
    The End of My Journey 285
    Maps & Illustrations 291
    Annotations and Sources 307
    The Voice of Marie Callegari 309
    Acknowledgements 336
    Annotations and Sources 339



Purchase The Journal of Madame Callegari (ISBN: 9781320468312) from Blurb; or from Amazon (USA); Amazon (UK); The Book Depository; Fishpond (NZ); AbeBooks; Wheelers; Readings Books; or Search Google for ISBN: 9781320395878)


Madame Callegari in Libraries

Auckland City Library

San Antonio Public Library

State Library of Victoria

State Library of Tasmania

National Library of Australia

Hawaii State Public Libraries

Baillieu Library, (University of Melbourne).

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Earth, Wind, Fire, Water – Gold!

Black Thursday StruttEarth, Wind, Fire, Water — Gold: Bushfires and the Origins of the Victorian Gold Rush

Douglas Wilkie

Originally published in History Australia, vol.10, no.2, August 2013


Many historians have noticed the coincidence of the 1851 Black Thursday fires in the Port Phillip District of New South Wales (Victoria) with the beginning of the Victorian gold rush but a possible relationship between these events has not been investigated in any depth. This article will demonstrate that the gold rushes in Victoria occurred when they did in mid-1851, not simply as a reaction to gold discoveries at Bathurst, nor because of prevailing economic circumstances, but largely as the result of a sequence of events that occurred over the preceding two years. Foremost among these events was the combination of fire and flooding that occurred before the outbreak of the gold rush.


Come, see! … They are the four elements: fire, wind, water, and dust … and from them come gold and silver and copper and iron.

 Shim‛on ben Yohai – 2nd century C.E.[1]

The ‘discovery’ of gold in Victoria a few days after separation from New South Wales on 1 July 1851 has served as a convenient marker of the end of one era and the beginning of another. The habit of thinking about the Victorian colonial past in this manner, however, has unfortunately hindered our understanding of the origins of the Victorian gold rushes.[2] Many of the events of 1851 were, in fact, set in motion in 1849 and earlier. In particular, an almost forgotten gold discovery in Port Phillip in 1849 was inseparably linked to the never forgotten discoveries of 1851.

The connections between these events are complex and involve not only human, but also environmental factors. This article will briefly discuss the actions and decisions of a number of individuals between 1849 and 1851 — the Governor of New South Wales, Charles FitzRoy; the Superintendent of the Port Phillip District of New South Wales, Charles La Trobe; three ex-convict jewellers and silversmiths, Charles Brentani, Joseph Forrester and Alexandre Duchene; an exiled shepherd, Thomas Chapman; and the man who was later accredited with the first ‘official’ discovery of gold in Australia, Edward Hargraves.[3] But while these characters, and others, form the cast of the drama that played out following the 1849 gold discovery, the emphasis of this article is on the environmental setting in which that action took place — in particular that created by earth, wind, fire and water — and their influence in determining the nature and timing of the gold discoveries of 1849 and 1851.

Geoffrey Blainey has written of the ‘tyranny’ imposed by the vast distances encountered within and surrounding the Australian continent.[4] The distance from Melbourne to Sydney influenced government decision-making in Melbourne during the pre-1851 period when Port Phillip was still a reluctantly dependent outpost of New South Wales, and it was one of the reasons that Port Phillip residents so passionately wanted a separate and independent government. Blainey has also suggested physical distance and a sparse population as environmental and demographic factors influencing the discovery of minerals throughout Australia, but he indicated that ‘economic winds’ were ultimately more relevant in hastening or slowing minerals development.[5] Historians have debated Blainey’s arguments, but most investigation of the relationship between environment and gold has concentrated on the effects of gold mining rather than the origins of the rushes.[6]

There have been admirable studies of the impact of mining upon the environment; the environmental requirements of mining, such as water supply; and the impact of bush fires in general, in studies by Libby Robin, Stephen J Pyne, Donald Garden, Paul Collins and others.[7] Discussing the impact of mining on forests, Tom Griffiths notes that fires ‘opened up the forests, the rivers and outcrops of rock’ for prospectors after the initial gold rushes of 1851, and he speculates whether gold seekers might have started the devastating Black Thursday fires of February 1851.[8] Griffiths’ question possibly eludes a certain answer, but Emily O’Gorman adds that ‘[f]loods and droughts sometimes aided the quest for gold’, citing news reports of floods revealing gold deposits along the Turon River.[9] Leaving aside the observations of Griffiths and O’Gorman, the historiography has been mainly concerned with the impact of mining after the gold rushes began.[10]  This paper will by way of contrast explore in some detail the role of environmental events — in particular drought, flood and bush fires — in facilitating the initial discovery of gold in Port Phillip in 1849 and 1851.

Contemporary newspapers, letters and books not only give detail about what people were doing or saying, but also describe the environment in which they were doing it. On one hand Port Phillip became a popular destination for pastoralists and immigrants because of its climate and pastoral lands — hence the appellation Australia Felix — but on the other, it was also seen as a harsh environment by many colonists, who suffered frequent droughts, floods, and bushfires….

This is a short extract from the original paper. The full article can be downloaded from UniMelb Minerva, from Academia, or from Taylor & Francis.

[1] Raphael Patai The Jewish Alchemists: A History and Source Book, Princeton: Princeton University Press 1995, 162.

[2] See, for example, AGL Shaw, A History of the Port Phillip District, Carlton: Melbourne University Press 2003, 237; AGL Shaw ‘Separation and Federation’, Victorian Historical Journal, 68 ( 1), April 1997, 13.

[3] For a full discussion see Douglas Wilkie, The Rush That Never Started: Forgotten Origins of the Victorian Gold Rushes, PhD Thesis, The University of Melbourne 2011-2013.

[4] Geoffrey Blainey The Tyranny of Distance, Melbourne: Sun Books 1966, 139.

[5] Ibid, 139; Geoffrey Blainey ‘A Theory of Mineral Discovery: Australia in the Nineteenth Century’, Economic History Review, New Series, 23 ( 2), August 1970, 298.

[6] For example, Barry McGowan ‘Environmental Effects of Alluvial Goldmining’ in Iain McCalman, Alexander Cook and Andrew Reeves, (eds) Gold: Forgotten Histories and Lost Objects of Australia, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2001.

[7] Tom Griffiths and Libby Robin (eds) Ecology and Empire: Environmental History of Settler Societies, Edinburgh: Keel University Press 1997; Libby Robin How a Continent Created a Nation, Sydney: University of New South Wales Press 2007 121; Stephen J Pyne The Still-Burning Bush, Melbourne: Scribe 2006, 33; Stephen J Pyne World Fire: The Culture of Fire on Earth, Seattle: University of Washington Press 1997, 38; Stephen J Pyne Fire: A Brief History, Seattle: University of Washington Press 2001, 121; Don Garden Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific: An Environmental History, Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO 2005, 77; Paul Collins Burn: The Epic Story of Bushfire in Australia, Melbourne: Scribe 2009; Asa Wahlquist Thirsty Country: Options for Australia, Sydney: Allen & Unwin 2008, 105.

[8] Tom Griffiths Forests of Ash: An Environmental History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2001, 62-73.

[9] Emily O’Gorman Flood Country: An Environmental History of the Murray-Darling Basin, Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing 2012, 66. For fire exposing gold deposits, O’Gorman cites Griffiths, Forests of Ash, 63-4.

[10] In her research notes for Nothing But Gold, Robyn Annear mentions the Black Thursday fires of 1851 at the Loddon and Pyrenees and asks, ‘Instrumental in discovery of gold?’ but the question was not discussed in her book and was left unanswered: Robyn Annear, Research Notes for Nothing But Gold. Accessed 22 April 2012. Available from:



Frankenstein, Convicts, and Wide-Awake Geniuses: The Life and Death of Charles Brentani

Frankenstein 1837

Originally published as

Douglas Wilkie, ‘Frankenstein, Convicts and Wide-Awake Geniuses: The life and death of Charles Brentani’, Victorian Historical Journal, Vol. 87, No. 1, June 2016


In 1838 Alexander Maconochie, private secretary to the Van Diemen’s Land Governor, Sir John Franklin, wrote a damning report on the state of prison discipline in the colony. Maconochie’s report led Sir William Molesworth to describe to the British parliament a community where honest settlers were continually ‘surrounded by crime, and haunted by the spectacle of cruel and degrading punishment’; where ‘gangs of wretched beings in chains, displaying all the outward tokens of misery’; where shopkeepers in the main street had ‘probably been convicted of swindling’; where women were, ‘at best, drunken prostitutes’; and the men ‘hardened ruffians’.

In Van Diemen’s Land, although there was widespread criticism of Maconochie’s report, questions arose as to whether such a community of criminals, if it existed, was in fact the monstrous creation of misguided British government policy. The stage version of Mary Shelley’s story of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus had been performed at the Theatre Royal in Hobart in February 1837, and thus the analogy drawn between the creation of a local community of criminals and Shelley’s monster seemed appropriate and timely, and it had become common to refer to the creation of anything unpleasant or unintended as a Frankenstein monster. Indeed, as the Hobart Town Courier said:

 We do not blame Captain Maconochie that the condition of this colony should be looked upon at home with horror from the frightful iniquities, which are supposed to abound in it, and the fearful degree of vice, which it is imagined stalks abroad with impunity. Bent on the reformation of the present system of transportation, and with the best intentions for the welfare of mankind, he looked but to the worst side of the picture, until, like Frankenstein, he grew frighted at the monster of his own creation. This vision of his imagination has pursued, and will pursue him still.

But Victor Frankenstein’s monster, like many of the convicts of Van Diemen’s Land, though loathed by those who saw only the worst attributes, also had feelings.

I am content to suffer alone, while my sufferings shall endure; when I die, I am well satisfied that abhorrence and opprobrium should load my memory. Once my fancy was soothed with dreams of virtue, of fame, and of enjoyment … But now vice has degraded me beneath the meanest animal. No crime, no mischief, no malignity, no misery, can be found comparable to mine. … But it is even so; the fallen angel becomes a malignant devil. Yet even that enemy of God and man had friends and associates in his desolation: I am quite alone.

Mary Shelley’s description of how Frankenstein’s creature lamented his existence may well have reflected what some Vandemonian convicts felt about the way society vilified and punished them, even beyond the term of their sentences. But not all Vandemonian convicts suffered, or were vilified, in this way.

This is the story of one whose entrepreneurship freed him from his convict origins…

 This is an extract from the original article which can be downloaded here.


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The Convict Ship Hashemy at Port Phillip: a case study in historical error


This article was originally published as:

‘The convict ship Hashemy at Port Phillip: a case study in historical error’ Victorian Historical Journal, vol 85, no 1, June 2014

[Download the original article from UniMelb Minerva or Academia]

Citations should refer to the pagination of the original article.

Responses to this paper Tweeted when presented in summary to the 2016 Working History Conference of the Professional Historians Association.

“Douglas Wilkie’s audit of the portrayal of convict ship Hashemy in 1849 by historians should be on History School reading lists!” – Yvonne Perkins (PHA NSW)

“A cautionary tale!” – Alicia Cerreto (President PHA Vic)

“A genealogy of sources, the archaeology of historic errors using the Hashemy – insightful, funny even – valuable cautionary tale!” – Rebecca Carland (Curator, History of Collections, Museum Victoria)

“Douglas Wilkie tracks back through the Chinese whispers of interpretations of sources.” – Katrina Hodgson (PHA Vic)

“Big lesson from Douglas’s work: go back to sources, don’t rely on word of X number of historians copying each other!” – Dr David Stephens (Honest History)

“Douglas Wilkie’s tale of erroneous history a valuable warning to us all. Check, re-check, re-re-check your sources!” – PHAVic Tweet

“Dr Douglas Wilkie shares a cautionary tale of the importance of checking sources – myth of the Hashemy.” – Jen Rose (Public Historian and Social Policy Consultant.)


The story of the convict ship Hashemy arriving at Sydney in June 1849 after being turned away from Melbourne has been repeated by many professional, amateur and popular historians. The arrival of the Hashemy, and subsequent anti-convict protest meetings in Sydney, not only became a turning point in the anti-transportation movement in Australia, but also added to an already existing antagonism on the part of Sydney towards its colonial rival, Port Phillip, or Melbourne.

This article will demonstrate that the story of the Hashemy being turned away from Port Phillip is based upon a fallacy; investigates how that fallacy developed and was perpetuated over a period of 160 years; and demonstrates that politicians and historians encouraged this false interpretation of history, effectively extending the Intercolonial discontent that began in the 1840s, into the 20th century and beyond.

The Convict Ship Hashemy at Port Phillip: a case study in historical error.

This article will show that the story of the convict ship Hashemy being turned away from Melbourne and sent to Sydney in 1849—an account repeated by many historians—is based upon a fallacy. The article investigates how that fallacy developed and was perpetuated by historians over a period of 160 years; and demonstrates that politicians and historians used this false interpretation of history to feed an enduring antagonism felt by Sydney towards its colonial rival, Port Phillip or Melbourne. The wider implications of this case study touch upon the credibility given to historians in their interpretations of historical events.

The stories written by historians are interpretations of the past, and most historians write credible, well-written historical interpretations. But the stories written by historians can sometimes inadvertently misrepresent the past—even though the historian undoubtedly believes they have presented a credible interpretation. Indeed, if the historian writes well enough, their ‘well-written history can lull us into thinking that it is the only possible story’.[1]

What follows is a case study in how an error in Australian Colonial history has been perpetuated by historians, whether deliberately, for political motives, or through careless methodology—and how the stories they wrote in turn became quoted as secondary sources, causing the error to be repeated—eventually entering the realm of popular historical myth.

In 1849 the British government was still transporting large numbers of serving convicts to Van Diemen’s Land, but the transportation of convicts to New South Wales had been discontinued for several years. On the other hand, since 1846, smaller numbers of ‘exiles’ were being sent to the Port Phillip District of New South Wales. Exiles were generally young convicts who had served two years of their sentences, supposedly learning useful trades at prisons such as Millbank, Parkhurst or Pentonville, and were then given the option of serving the rest of their sentences in prison, or being sent to Port Phillip where they would immediately be given an conditional pardon and allowed to live an essentially free life — the condition of their pardon being that they were not to return to Great Britain until the term of their original sentence had expired. Many of these so-called ‘exiles’ went on to live good and productive lives, but there were sufficient numbers who caused trouble that they soon became known as ‘Pentonvillains’ and by 1849 the program of sending exiles was not only opposed by most residents of Port Phillip, but also by Superintendent Charles La Trobe who had originally, if hesitantly, supported the scheme to help address a shortage of labour. Growing opposition to exiles was compounded by many thousands of ex-convicts moving to Port Phillip from Van Diemen’s Land during the late 1840s. Again, many of these ‘expirees’ went on to live honest and productive lives, but there were sufficient numbers of dishonest expirees for public opinion to become polarized against convicts of any description.

While opposition to transportation was growing in Australia, W. E. Gladstone, the Colonial Secretary in London, had other ideas and in 1846 suggested that a ‘modified and carefully regulated introduction of Convict Labourers into New South Wales or some part of it’ would be desirable.[2] This proposal stimulated the formation of an Anti-Transportation Committee in Sydney, but in 1847 the New South Wales Legislative Council tentatively agreed to the idea as long as the men were sufficiently of good character to be deserving of tickets of leave; that the wives and children of the convicts should also be sent out; as well as an equal number of free immigrants. Governor Charles Fitz Roy misleadingly told London that the scheme would be supported by the majority of the population, with the result that in September 1848 Earl Grey announced that ships would be chartered to transport serving convicts to New South Wales.[3] These ships were the Hashemy and the Randolph.

In her 2011 study From Convicts to Colonists: the Health of Prisoners and the Voyage to Australia, 1823 – 1853, Katherine Foxhall made the statement—‘In 1848, Lord Grey re-introduced transportation to New South Wales. Rejected by colonists at Port Phillip, the Hashemy would be the first convict ship in a decade to sail to Sydney. Historians have vividly described the mass opposition that the Hashemy received as it arrived in Melbourne and Sydney, but the circumstances of its departure from Britain were equally traumatic’.[4] Foxhall’s article is an excellent account of the role of surgeons on convict ships; however it was the relationship between the Hashemy and Port Phillip that raised questions.

Foxhall gave her sources for the Hashemy statement as Kirsten McKenzie, Scandal in the Colonies; Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore; and A. G. L. Shaw, Convicts and the Colonies. A check of these sources reveals that in 2004 McKenzie told how the Hashemy arrived at Sydney in June 1849 ‘having nearly provoked riots in Melbourne en route’.[5] This appears to have its origins in Shaw’s 1966 work‘in May the Hashemy and in August the Randolph almost provoked riots [at Port Phillip] and had to be sent to Sydney’.[6] However, Hughes’ 1987 Fatal Shore states that Earl Grey dispatched the Hashemy ‘direct to Sydney’.[7] So which historians did so ‘vividly described the mass opposition that the Hashemy received as it arrived in Melbourne’—or did the Hashemy actually sail direct to Sydney?

In his 2003 History of the Port Phillip District A. G. L. Shaw stated—‘When the Hashemy arrived three months after the Eden, [that is, in May 1849] La Trobe, fearing trouble sent her on to Sydney with her passengers still on board—to arouse protests there. In August, when the Randolph reached Port Phillip, the Argus prepared for action again’.[8] Shaw said ‘my “original” sources have been the correspondence between officials in Melbourne, Sydney and London’.[9] Indeed, he referred to his own Convicts and the Colonies—which does cite the correspondence; and to Alan Gross’s 1956 Charles Joseph La Trobe, and Ernest Scott’s 1911 article ‘Resistance to Convict Transportation’—neither of which referred directly to primary documentary sources regarding the Hashemy.[10]

Scott’s 1911 article stated, ‘when in May, 1850, the Hashemy arrived in the bay, she was at once directed to proceed to Port Jackson’ by Charles La Trobe, Superintendent of the Port Phillip District.[11] Scott repeated this in his 1918 Short History of Australia.[12] How Scott concluded the Hashemy arrived at Port Phillip in May 1850 is unclear, as it arrived in Sydney on 10 June 1849, left again on 10 August, and was back in England by May 1850, preparing to sail to Western Australia.[13] If it was simply a mistake in writing 1850 instead of 1849 then the Hashemy would have been the ‘first vessel’ rather than the ‘second vessel’. Nevertheless, Scott’s error was subsequently repeated by numerous historians over the next sixty years.[14] In 2003 A. G. L. Shaw moved the 1850 date back to May 1849 but still had La Trobe sending the Hashemy ‘on to Sydney with her passengers still aboard’.[15]

Some, such as T. A. Coghlan, weren’t so sure, and avoided giving a specific date—‘the ship Hashemy arrived in Sydney … a landing having been refused them at Melbourne in accordance with Governor Fitzroy’s promise’.[16] Others, like Margaret Kiddle, enhanced the description—‘The crowd which collected to prevent the landing of the men looked so ugly that La Trobe, watching anxiously, ordered the captain [of the Randolph] to proceed to Sydney with his unwanted cargo. When a second ship the Hashemy arrived a few months later he followed the same procedure’.[17] Kiddle cited the Argus of 9 August 1849, which referred only to the Randolph and said it was ‘the first of the polluting ships’; and the Argus of 22 August, which referred to an anti-transportation meeting but said nothing about the Hashemy.[18] Her source for the ‘ugly men’ was not given.

Because of Ernest Scott’s influence, it must be asked where did he, despite having the wrong date, get the idea that the Hashemy came to Port Phillip anyway? Historians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century were divided in their opinion. In 1917, Robert Thomson said the Randolph was bound for Melbourne and the Hashemy for Sydney.[19] In 1904, Henry Gyles Turner also clearly stated the ‘Hashemy was ordered to Sydney and the Randolph to Port Phillip’.[20] Similarly, in 1905 Arthur Jose made no mention of the Hashemy calling at Port Phillip.[21] In the 1883 edition of his History of Australia, G. W. Rusden, after observing that ‘Melbourne as usual was demonstrative’ about transportation, simply said the Hashemy arrived at Port Jackson in June, with no mention of a stop at Port Phillip, and went on to describe the arrival of the Randolph in August.[22] However, by 1897 Rusden had changed his mind and also claimed the Hashemy came to Port Phillip before being turned away.[23]  Likewise, in 1906 Philip Gibbs claimed the Hashemy ‘entered Port Phillip’.[24]

To understand the development of this confusion about the Hashemy we must go back to the primary sources of 1849 and look at contemporary reports and correspondence.

In Convicts and the Colonies A. G. L. Shaw said he had referred to original correspondence. Most of the letters relevant to the 1849 convict ships are contained in Further Correspondence on the subject of Convict and Transportation (In continuation of Papers presented February and July 1849) presented to both houses of the British Parliament on 31 January 1850.[25] However, nowhere in this correspondence is there a reference to the Hashemy calling at Port Phillip. Fitz Roy’s letter to Earl Grey dated 27 June 1849 reported on the arrival of the Hashemy at Sydney and the distribution of the convicts, but made no reference to it being diverted from Port Phillip.[26] Letters from La Trobe to Deas Thompson dated 4 and 17 December 1849 refer to the diversion of the Adelaide to Sydney in a similar manner to the Randolph—but ignores the Hashemy.[27] When Grey replied to Fitz Roy on 18 April 1850 he approved of the diversion of both the Adelaide and Randolph and made no mention of the Hashemy.[28] In 1850 Joshua Jebb presented his Report on the Discipline and Management of Convict Prisons and referred only to the departure of the Hashemy from England and its arrival in Sydney.[29] In presenting the case for a Bill for the better government of Convict Prisons to parliament in March and April 1850, Grey referred to the arrival of the Hashemy in Sydney but made no reference to Port Phillip.[30] In his original despatch to Fitz Roy on 4 December 1848, Earl Grey said that the Hashemy convicts ‘will be sent to New South Wales’ which by normal usage meant Sydney rather than Port Phillip. Indeed, the despatch arrived in Sydney with the Hashemy.[31]

If the official correspondence regarding the arrival and diversion of convict ships made no reference to the Hashemy coming to Port Phillip in 1849, what did contemporary newspapers say?

First rumours of the despatch of the Hashemy appeared in the Hobart Courier on Saturday 24 February 1849 when it was reported the Hashemy was to sail from Woolwich to Hobart.[32] Nothing more was heard until 4 April 1849 when the Courier reported its destination was Sydney.[33] In the meantime, Governor Charles Fitz Roy arrived in Melbourne in March 1849 and promised the people of Port Phillip, and Superintendent Charles La Trobe, that, should any convict ships arrive at Port Phillip, they could be diverted to Sydney. At the time, all that was known was that London intended sending convicts—the actual names and destinations of the ships were unknown, apart from the rumours that the Hashemy had already left England.[34] News was slow in arriving—the Sydney Morning Herald of 12 April reported—‘The Hashemy and other ships with convicts; being expected to arrive at this port from Great Britain, it has been directed by the Port Officer that the distinguishing flag for the same to be hoisted at Fort Phillip Signal Station, shall be the pendant No. 0, (being blue with white ball in centre), placed between the ship flag and the pilot’s report’.[35] Fort Phillip—not Port Phillip—was the signal station on Windmill Hill, above the Rocks in Sydney. On 17 April Henry Parkes and the Anti-Transportation Committee in Sydney met to prepare for the arrival of the convict ship at Sydney.[36] On 20 April the Sydney Morning Herald listed the Hashemy as being ‘expected in Sydney from London’, and on the same page ran a sustained criticism of Fitz Roy’s promise to divert other convict ships from Port Phillip.[37] A few days later the Anti-Transportation Committee was demanding an explanation from Fitz Roy.[38] Criticism of both Fitz Roy’s promise, and Port Phillip’s wishes, was also expressed in the Legislative Council in May.[39] Nevertheless, the Herald continued reporting the Hashemy being bound for Sydney throughout May and June, and its arrival on 8 June.[40] It reported the ship made only one stop during the voyage—at the Cape of Good Hope on 26 Apriland had been ‘looked for from day to day’ in anticipation.[41]

Despite the claims by A. G. L. Shaw and others that the Hashemy had stopped at Melbourne a careful reading of the Argus for all of May 1849 shows the only mention of the ship was on 21 May when it reported that the Hashemy had left Portsmouth on 7 February. [42] Melbourne knew nothing about the Hashemy’s voyage or arrival until 15 June when the Argus carried the news from Sydney.[43] It is clear that there was no public expectation that the Hashemy would be calling at Port Phillip, and when the Argus of 15 and 18 December 1849 reported the Adelaide had been diverted to Sydney, in a similar manner to the Randolph in August, it made no mention of the same happening to the Hashemy.[44] Indeed, in anticipation of the Hashemy passing by on its way to Sydney, settlers near Twofold Bay had applied in advance for an assignment of one hundred of the convicts.[45]

When the Randolph arrived at Port Phillip on 9 August 1849 the Argus proclaimed, ‘Colonists of Port Phillip! The hour has come and the men! … the convicts are in the bay, and it behoves us to see that they obtain no footing here’. Henry Gyles Turner recalled that, although the newspapers expressed some degree of animation, ‘the public did not evince any excitement’ and two days later the ship was on its way to Sydney.[46] The diversion of the Randolph in August was without precedent. If the story that the Hashemy had already been rejected by Port Phillip in May came from neither the official correspondence, nor the contemporary press—where did it originate?

The story originated in Sydney when the separate issues of Fitz Roy’s promise to Port Phillip in March, and the arrival of the Hashemy in June, gradually became merged. After the Hashemy arrived at Sydney a protest meeting, planned several weeks earlier, saw Robert Lowe, Henry Parkes and Archibald Michie among the leading speakers—but none referred to the Hashemy having been diverted from Port Phillip, and when Mackinnon, MLC representing Port Phillip, addressed the crowd, he was greeted with cheers.[47] On 30 June Fitz Roy wrote to Earl Grey, submitting the petitions drawn up at the meeting, and describing many of the protesters as the ‘idlers’ and ‘mob of Sydney’.[48] The repercussions would be felt over twelve months later when the despatch was eventually published in the Australian press in August 1850. Indignation erupted in Sydney at the Governor’s apparently dismissive attitude. Gideon Lang wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald on 14 August 1850 and engaged in a long discussion of the issues surrounding the arrival of the Hashemy, and Fitz Roy’s promise to Port Phillip. Although Lang did not connect the two, the juxtaposition of the issues set the pattern for linking the Hashemy with Fitz Roy’s promise. The Bathurst Free Press took the connection a step further on 17 August 1850 when it criticized Fitz Roy’s ‘notorious despatch’ and complained of ‘his unaccountable blundering in the partiality he showed for the Port Phillipians in his disposal of the Hashemites’.[49] By late 1850 many in Sydney imagined a direct connection between Fitz Roy’s March 1849 promise to divert ships from Port Phillip, and the arrival of the Hashemy in June.

When Isaac Aaron wrote to the Herald on 19 August 1850 in response to Lang’s letter, he correctly made the point that while the Hashemy was unwelcomed, it was actually the Randolph that was sent to Sydney ‘in pursuance of Sir Charles’ promise to the Port Phillip people.[50] But hostility towards both Fitz Roy and Port Phillip had become entrenched, and on 30 September 1850 the idea that the Hashemy had originally been intended for Port Phillip was presented to the New South Wales Legislative Council during a debate on transportation. W.C. Wentworth, who supported a limited resumption of transportation, and was opposed to Port Phillip separation, observed that during the late 1840s Port Phillip employers had been happy to receive ‘exile’ labour. However, Wentworth complained, after free emigration satisfied Port Phillip’s labour needs the exiles became ‘bounceable’ and the residents delivered a petition to ‘prevent their community from being contaminated by the convicts expected to arrive in the Hashemy’. On this point Wentworth was wrong—as shown above, Port Phillip was not expecting the Hashemy, and did not know it had arrived until news came from Sydney—nevertheless, always looking for an excuse to criticize Port Phillip, Wentworth concluded that ‘It would have been far better had they received the people by the Hashemy … than have been receiving … thousands of much worse fellows from Van Diemen’s Land’.[51] Wentworth, like many in Sydney, wanted to blame the arrival of the Hashemy on Port Phillip.

Thus began the myth that Sydney only received the Hashemy convicts because Port Phillip had rejected them. But the myth could have soon died out—most subsequent contemporary historians of Victoria and Van Diemen’s Land either ignored the Hashemy or reported it going directly to Sydney—and despite his error in having it come to Port Phillip, Ernest Scott said in his 1911 article ‘the Hashemy incident belongs rather to the history of New South Wales than Victoria’.[52] In 1852 John West wrote The History of Tasmania and made passing reference to the Hashemy in Sydney and the Randolph in Melbourne but did not suggest the Hashemy went to Melbourne first.[53] In 1858 Thomas McCombie’s History of the Colony of Victoria described how the Randolph sailed into Hobson’s Bay in August 1849, and La Trobe ‘wisely averted bloodshed’ by diverting the ship to Sydney.[54] Despite not previously giving any account of the Hashemy arriving at Port Phillip, McCombie curiously noted that, ‘On the 11th June, a violent meeting was held at Circular Wharf, Sydney, in consequence of the arrival of the Hashmey [sic] from Port Phillip.’[55] Nevertheless, when William Fairfax published his Handbook to Australasia in 1859 he mentioned Fitz Roy’s promise and the Hashemy arriving at Sydney separately, but drew no connection between the two.[56]

While the early historians from Victoria and Van Diemen’s Land generally kept the Randolph diversion from Port Phillip separate to the Hashemy incident in Sydney, it is clear that some in Sydney preferred to connect the two, and they might have taken heart from press reports of William Kerr’s address to an anti-transportation meeting in Melbourne on Monday 23 October 1854. The South Australian Register reported Kerr as saying London ‘had tried direct transportation in the shape of the Randolph and the Hashemy’ and the people had proclaimed—‘The convicts by the Randolph and the Hashemy shall not land on our shores’.[57] The Argus reported the same speech with the words—‘the ships Randolph and Hashemy had arrived with convicts. But these ships had also been obliged to leave our shores’[58] On the morning of the October meeting the Argus had presented a case for no transportation—‘In 1849 our tone was decided enough to secure the sending away of the convict ships Hashemy and Randolph. It would be a poor spectacle indeed for Victoria of 1854 to take lower ground than that achieved by the Port Phillip of 1849’[59] But the Argus was presenting a case against transportation to the whole of Australia, not just Victoria, and Kerr’s inclusion of the Hashemy and Randolph in the one slogan was rhetoric rather than fact, and his address came after one by Archibald Michie in which the opposition of ‘all the colonies of the Southern Hemisphere’ to transportation was being expressed.[60] Michie had moved to Melbourne in 1852 after being involved in the Hashemy protests in Sydney in 1849.

On 16 May 1856, the Argus observed that the current edition of Melbourne Punch had published a satirical cartoon depicting ‘the resistance offered by Mr La Trobe and our fellow colonists to the landing of convicts brought by the Randolph and the Hashemy’.[61] In fact the illustration in Punch, depicting La Trobe as Boadicea fending off the Romans, was simply titled La Trobe and the Chieftains resist the landing of the convicts, and made no mention of the Hashemy or Randolph.[62] Further reinforcement of the myth occurred in July 1863 when former editor of the Argus, Edward Wilson wrote from London on the subject of transportation and mistakenly recalled ‘In 1849 when Lord Grey sent to Port Phillip the Randolph and the Hashemy … we adopted as our motto “The Convicts shall not Land” … and Mr. La Trobe sent the ships away again’.[63] Wilson wrote again in August and repeated the same statement.[64] Despite Wilson’s version, on 20 August 1864 the Argus published a history of transportation and clearly stated that in 1849 ‘it became known that the British Government had chartered two ships, the Randolph and the Hashemy, to proceed to Melbourne and Sydney respectively with convicts. With the former vessel the people of Melbourne were chiefly concerned’—and when the Randolph arrived in Melbourne ‘“The convicts shall not land”’ was the watchword’.[65]

Nevertheless, the myth persisted and the 1866 Handbook to Sydney and Suburbs informed newcomers, ‘In 1849, the Home Government, of their own motion and without reference to the wishes of the colonists, despatched from England the “Hashemy” convict ship, with orders to disembark the convicts at Melbourne’, and La Trobe sent them on to Sydney.[66] And again, on 15 October 1881, the Clarence and Richmond River Examiner claimed, in an unsourced story – ‘In the reign of governor Fitzroy an attempt was made to arrest transportation from England to Australia, and in the height of excitement the ship Hasemy [sic], with convicts, arrived in Hobson’s Bay, when the residents of Victoria refused to allow them to be landed, and Governor Fitzroy ordered the vessel on to Port Jackson’.[67] This was clearly from a writer more closely aligned with Sydney. A few years later, in his Chronicles of Early Melbourne, Edmund Finn, who was in Melbourne in 1849, described the Randolph being diverted to Sydney in August 1849 and the Adelaide in December, but made no mention of the Hashemy.[68]

By the 1890s memories were fading—in 1890 James Sheen Dowling, a Sydney barrister in 1849, remembered the Hashemy ‘with upwards of 200 convicts not allowed to land at Melbourne, coming to Sydney to discharge her objectionable cargo … It was on this occasion that Robert Lowe made a brilliant oration which stamped him as an orator’.[69]  Robert Lowe, another barrister and a leader the anti-transportation protests in Sydney in 1849, was the subject of two biographies published in 1893—one by James Francis Hogan, the other by Arthur Patchett Martin. An extract from Hogan’s work was widely published in the Australian and New Zealand press during 1893 and described the day the Hashemy arrived at Sydney after supposedly being driven from Melbourne—‘so intense and demonstrative was the popular fury that the captain did not dare even to attempt to discharge his repulsive living cargo’.[70]

The second biography, by Arthur Patchett Martin, claimed the Hashemy, ‘being unable to land her cargo at Melbourne, sailed for Port Jackson with a view to depositing them in Sydney’, where Lowe protested that Fitz Roy had ‘rescued Port Phillip from the infamy of receiving a criminal cargo, which he now wished to inflict upon Port Jackson’.[71] In 1883 Patchett Martin left Melbourne ‘under a cloud … embittered by friends shunning him’.[72] In return he complained that the ‘best informed writers in Victoria … entirely overlook, or rather, have quite forgotten, the magnificent stand which Robert Lowe made in Sydney’ on their behalf.[73] Martin was especially critical of George Rusden’s 1883 mild account of anti-transportation sentiment in Melbourne—‘Melbourne, as usual was demonstrative’—and claimed that ‘There were men … among the “demonstrative” early colonists, who marched down to Hobson’s Bay with the view, if necessary, of preventing by force the landing of this first batch of Earl Grey’s criminal hordes’.[74] Dismissing Rusden’s account, Martin said he preferred the version given in an 1868 lecture by Archibald Michie in which Michie recalled how ‘a large body of spirited colonists … marched down to Sandridge, resolved that a newly arrived cargo of convicts, per ship Hashemy, should not land here’.[75]

Martin ignored the fact that Michie’s 1868 lecture had been criticized by the Argus as betraying ‘the lecturer’s political bias’;[76] of indulging in ‘abstract arguments and theoretical doctrines which might or might not apply to existing circumstances’;[77] and of making statements that were ‘altogether untrue, and nothing more than the every-day experience of a Victorian resident is required to show their complete fallacy’.[78] In addition to this criticism, Michie’s account of marching down to Sandridge to send off the Hashemy in May 1849 simply could not have happened—as a Sydney barrister he was involved in an important court case in Sydney during May 1849; he was giving lectures in Sydney; and he was a prominent speaker, along with Robert Lowe, at the protests against the Hashemy in Sydney on Monday 11 June 1849.[79] He may have marched down to Circular Quay, but he certainly did not march down to Hobson’s Bay.

With two biographies of Robert Lowe now circulating, and both Lowe’s and Michie’s flawed versions of the Hashemy affair being given prominence, those who wrote new histories or those who tried to remember old histories had a new source upon which to draw. In 1895 Edward Jenks told how ‘the unfortunate Hashemy was driven with her convict cargo from Melbourne to Sydney’.[80] In 1897 GW Rusden, undoubtedly conscious of the criticism of his earlier work by Patchett Martin and others, revised his 1883 History of Australia to reflect a similar version of events. But not all were so influenced—in 1904 Henry Gyles Turner and Alexander Sutherland clearly stated that, ‘Of the two ships which had been chartered, the Hashemy was ordered to Sydney and the Randolph to Port Phillip’.[81] Nevertheless, by the first two decades of the twentieth century the story of the Hashemy was evenly divided between those who claimed it had sailed to Port Phillip first—Scott, Coghlan and Gibbs —and those who claimed it sailed directly to Sydney—Turner, Sutherland, Thomson and Jose. The opinions of later historians seem to have varied depending upon which of these secondary sources they preferred.

Charles Bateson’s 1959 The Convict Ships 1787-1868 has been described by Foxhall as ‘the only substantial study of convict voyages’ despite being ‘over half a century old’, and by popular historians as ‘the definitive guide to Australia’s period of transportation’—thereby giving credence to anything listed by Bateson—and he listed the Hashemy as arriving at Port Phillip in May 1849.[82]  How he came to this conclusion is uncertain, although he claimed to have referred to Captain’s and Surgeon’s journals—but he clearly could find no conclusive evidence, and simply listed the Hashemy being at Port Phillip sometime during the month of May, whereas he gave every other ship a specific date of arrival.[83]

An exact date of arrival is given in a curious document compiled a few years after the Martin and Hogan biographies of Lowe; the Rusden second edition; and the Jenks history had all reinforced the story of the Hashemy stopping at Port Phillip. Nineteen year-old James Cripps was part of the military contingent on board the Hashemy in 1849 and was on his way to join the 99th Regiment in Van Diemen’s Land. In 1906, fifty seven years after the Hashemy arrived at Sydney he wrote his Reminiscences and claimed to have arrived at Hobson’s Bay, Port Phillip, on 1 June 1849.[84] Cripps related how, after stopping at the Cape of Good Hope, the Hashemy set sail ‘bound for Melbourne; where we intended to land our prisoners’.

There was nothing particular occurred during the voyage from the Cape to Melbourne worth recording. We arrived in Hobson’s Bay on the evening of 1st June 1849. When it became known that the convict ship Hashemy was in the harbour, it aroused the inhabitants of Melbourne to the highest pitch of indignation, and so intense and demonstrative was the popular fury, that the Captain did not dare even attempt to discharge his living cargo. … Physical force was threatened but it was probably the kind heart rather than the fears of Mr Latrobe which induced him to insist that the Hashemy should proceed to Sydney. The Captain was therefore ordered to clear out with all possible speed, which was immediately complied with.[85]

There are major problems with Cripps’ narrative. If this really happened we would expect the official correspondence and the press of the time to have mentioned it—but there is silence. When James Cripps died in Melbourne on 24 March 1917 an obituary appeared in the Argus.

Sergeant-Major James Cripps, who died on March 24, aged nearly 88 years, formed an interesting link in Australian history. He was born in Ireland May, 1829. In 1848 he enlisted in the 99th Foot, and sailing as one of the guard on the Hashemy, the last convict ship to come here. He saw the angry, threatening crowds on Circular Quay, Sydney, whose deputies drew up the historical “Protest” in June, 1849. Sergeant Cripps served at Hobart, Norfolk Island, Melbourne, first at the time of the gold discoveries, and two years later, and at Ballarat twice, the first time just missing the Eureka affair. The term of his enlistment ending, in January, 1860, he was appointed drill instructor of volunteers, a position he held until 1884.[86]

We might assume that some mention of the Hashemy being turned away from Port Phillip—if it happened—would have been of greater interest to Melbourne readers than the Sydney protest meeting—but again, there is silence.

The question must be asked whether Cripps included the stop at Hobson’s Bay in his Reminiscences of 1906 simply because that is what a number of historians at the time were saying had happened. Indeed his choice of words betrays his inspiration—‘so intense and demonstrative was the popular fury that the Captain did not dare even attempt to discharge his living cargo’. Compare this to the phrase used by James Francis Hogan in his biography of Robert Lowe—‘so intense and demonstrative was the popular fury that the captain did not dare even to attempt to discharge his repulsive living cargo’. Hogan’s account had been widely circulated in the Australian press, and, apart from one word, Cripps’ phrase is identical.[87] Nevertheless, Audrey Oldfield, in The great republic of the southern seas, accepts Cripps’ story and adds, without further reference, that ‘La Trobe, on Fitzroy’s orders, ordered the Hashemy to Port Jackson’.[88]

Finally, if many of the secondary sources are unreliable, and the supposed first-hand witness account of James Cripps is suspect, we might ask whether the Master of the Hashemy, Captain John Ross, the Surgeon, Colin Arrott Browning, or the Religious Instructor, John Henderson, had anything to say about Port Phillip. The journal kept by Captain John Ross mentions passing Cape Otway and Wilson’s Promontory early in June, but makes no mention of a detour into Port Phillip Bay.[89] Nicholson’s Log of Logs combined the Cape Otway and Wilson’s Promontory entries in Ross’s journal into ‘Port Phillip’—which is technically correct as they were both in the Port Phillip District—but the Hashemy was passing Port Phillip on 1 June 1849, not stopping there as Cripps claimed.

Surgeon Colin Browning, not only compiled the required Surgeon’s Report for the voyage, but also wrote The Convict Ship, in which he described the Hashemy’s departure from England and its arrival at Sydney—neither document made any mention of stopping at Port Phillip.[90] Indeed, the Health Officer’s Report clearly responds to the question, ‘At what Ports have you touched on your passage?’ with a single port—‘Cape of Good Hope 26th April 49’.[91] Katherine Foxhall quoted extensively from Browning’s report as Surgeon to the Hashemy, but did not detect the discrepancy between his account of the voyage and those of the historians she cited.

John Henderson, the Religious Instructor, kept a diary during the voyage. He described the arrival at Cape Town on 19 April, and being ‘sorry at leaving the land’ on 26 April. By 1 June Henderson registered the ship’s location as 39.26° south and 131.44° east, which is south of South Australia; by 4 June they were at 39.12° south and 142.22° east—‘Entered Bass Straits between Cape Otway & Kings Island in the afternoon … sailed on under easy sail but going pretty fast’; the next day, 5 June, they were close to Wilson’s Promontory, at 39.31° south and 146.11° east—‘beating about in the eastern part of Bass Straits the wind being unfavourable for passing out’; by 6 June—‘beat out of Bass Strait’; 7 June—‘Sailing along the coast of Australia all day’; and on 8 June—‘Coasting along, arrived between the heads at dusk … find that the people are averse to the reception of the prisoners’.[92] Not a word about a visit to Port Phillip—indeed, from 1 May until 7 June the Hashemy maintained an almost unwavering course along 39° south latitude.

In 1966—the year Shaw wrote Convicts and the Colonies—Joan Ritchie submitted her Master of Arts thesis on Charles Joseph La Trobe to the University of Melbourne. After discussing Fitz Roy’s visit to Port Phillip in March 1849, Ritchie referred to the Hashemy arriving “a few weeks later”, citing Turner—who actually said the Hashemy went directly to Sydney— and Gilchrist—who vaguely said the people of Sydney and Melbourne protested ‘so the vessels were ordered to Sydney and Moreton Bay’.[93] However, in a footnote Ritchie expressed reservations about the accuracy of the secondary accounts.[94] Ritchie’s thesis was not published and her concern about the secondary sources was not made known—but Shaw’s article was published, and his statement about how ‘in May the Hashemy and in August the Randolph almost provoked riots and had to be sent to Sydney without unloading their ‘passengers’’, was subsequently cited by many historians, both amateur and professional.[95] For example, Gregory Woods said, ‘The Hashemy arrived, first at Melbourne, where Governor Latrobe refused it permission to land: it proceeded to Sydney and arrived in Port Jackson on 8 or 9 June’.[96] Francis Crowley claimed the arrival of the Hashemy ‘roused great public alarm in Sydney and Melbourne’.[97] Anthony Baker—‘When the Hashemy arrived in Melbourne in 1849 with a band of “exiles”, a tumult prevented their disembarkation’.[98] Russell Ward—‘When the convict ship, Hashemy, arrived in Melbourne in 1849, the Superintendent of the Colony, Charles Joseph Latrobe, prudently ordered her to Sydney’.[99] And so the list goes on.

Perhaps most significant in disseminating the error to genealogists was Keith Clarke in his 1999 Convicts of the Port Phillip District, where he cited Shaw’s statement as his only source for claiming the Hashemy ‘arrived in Port Phillip Bay and La Trobe defied the Imperial Government by refusing permission for the convicts to land. After a delay the Hashemy was sent on to Sydney’.[100] Clarke was wrong on two counts—not only did the Hashemy not stop at Port Phillip, but La Trobe had the Governor’s approval to divert them had they done so. Such errors are easily perpetuated and multiplied in popular literature, and even more easily on the internet. A popular ‘convict website’, Convicts to Australia, claims the Hashemy ‘arrived in Sydney on June 9, 1849, but not before discharging her surviving Parkhurst boys in Victoria in May 1949’.[101] The website gives its source as Ian Nicholson’s Log of Logs, and Paul Buddee’s Fate of the Artful Dodger.[102] Perhaps in an attempt to correct such errors the official Guide to convict records in the Archives Office of New South Wales states the ‘Prisoners did not disembark at Port Phillip but were sent on to Sydney’.[103] Only partly correct—the prisoners did not disembark at Port Phillip because the ship was never there. Fortunately, there are some, such as Peter Cochrane, who do not included Port Phillip in the voyage of the Hashemy.[104]

The secondary sources on the Hashemy incident are often unreliable and contradictory, and many cite equally other unreliable secondary sources as their sole evidence. The primary sources—not only the correspondence between La Trobe, Fitz Roy and London, but also the journals left by the Master, Surgeon and Religious Instructor on the Hashemy, and contemporary press reports and shipping lists—provide clear and conclusive evidence that the Hashemy did not stop at Port Phillip in May 1849 before arriving at Sydney on 8 June.

Of course, we could ask does it matter whether the Hashemy went to Port Phillip or not? It matters partly because historians should correct mistaken perceptions when new evidence is found; when the old evidence itself is valid but belongs to a different puzzle; or when what was thought to have been valid evidence is found to have been fabricated or imagined. It is also important because many people in Sydney came to believe the arrival of the Hashemy was a direct consequence of Fitz Roy’s promise that La Trobe could divert convict ships from Port Phillip. That belief, together with Fitz Roy’s failure to fully explain the reasons for his promise, led to a dramatic escalation in the already bitter antagonism towards Port Phillip. In the atmosphere of such hostility it was easy for politicians, journalists, and ultimately historians, to write about and perpetuate myths that suited their own parochial prejudices—for example, Arthur Patchett Martin’s account of the Hashemy voyage combines not only Robert Lowe’s prejudice against convicts and Port Phillip, but also Michie’s mistaken recollections of a protest against the Hashemy in Melbourne, as well as Martin’s own bitterness against former friends in Melbourne.

During the 1840s, the Middle District of New South Wales, based on Sydney, was heavily reliant on wealth from the Port Phillip District, yet, since the late 1830s the independently-minded people of Port Phillip had blamed Sydney for appropriating revenue that should have been spent in Port Phillip—and they were justified in that complaint.[105] But Governor Gipps complained that if Port Phillip’s money was spent solely on Port Phillip, Sydney would not be able to pay its bills.[106] By 1849 Port Phillip’s imminent independence, cutting off Sydney’s major revenue source, was bad enough—but the idea that Port Phillip had persuaded the Governor to transfer the Hashemy convicts to Sydney was just too much. The people of Sydney blamed Port Phillip not only for their loss of revenue, but also for an influx of new convicts. They were wrong on both counts. Charles Joseph La Trobe was entitled to wish that Port Phillip revenue should be expended in Port Phillip alone—and he did not send the Hashemy to Sydney—that idea originated from and was perpetuated mainly by people such as W.C. Wentworth in Sydney itself, and repeated by historians ever since.

[1] Barbara Thayer-Bacon and Diana Moyer, ‘Philosophical and Historical Research’, in Kenneth George Tobin and Joe L. Kincheloe (eds), Doing Educational Research: A Handbook, Rotterdam, 2006, p. 150.

[2] A. G. L. Shaw, Convicts and the Colonies– A Study of Penal Transportation from Great Britain and Ireland to Australia and other parts of the British Empire, London, 1966, p. 318.

[3] These despatches are reproduced in NSW Parliament, Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council during the session of the year 1849, vol. 1, Sydney, 1849; A. G. L. Shaw, Convicts and the Colonies, p. 324.

[4] Katherine Foxhall, ‘From Convicts to Colonists: the Health of Prisoners and the Voyage to Australia. 1823 – 1853,’ Journal of Imperial Commonwealth History, vol. 39, no.1, 2011, pp. 1–19.

[5] Kirsten McKenzie, Scandal in the Colonies, Melbourne, 2004, pp. 173-4.

[6] A. G. L. Shaw, Convicts and the Colonies, pp. 317, 318, 324.

[7] Robert Hughes, The fatal shore: a history of the transportation of convicts to Australia, 1787–1868, London, 1987, p. 555.

[8] A. G. L. Shaw, A History of the Port Phillip District: Victoria Before Separation. Melbourne, 2003, pp. 208-9, 294 n. 36; A. G. L. Shaw, ‘Victoria’s First Governor’, La Trobe Journal, no. 71, August 2003, p. 89.

[9] Shaw. History of the Port Phillip District, p. xvi.

[10] Alan Gross, Charles Joseph La Trobe, Melbourne, 1980, p. 84; Ernest Scott, ‘Resistance to Convict Transportation, 133.

[11] Ernest Scott, ‘Resistance to Convict Transportation in Victoria, 1844-1853,’ Victorian Historical Magazine, vol. 1, no. 4, 1911, p. 133.

[12] Ernest Scott, A Short History of Australia, 2nd edn. London, 1918, p. 161.

[13] Sydney Morning Herald, 11 August 1849, p. 2; Perth Inquirer, 30 October 1850, p. 3.

[14] For example Victoria: the first century: an historical survey, Melbourne, 1934, p. 160; Brian Charles Fitzpatrick, The British Empire in Australia: an economic history 1834-1939, Melbourne , 1949, p. 91; Ken Inglis, The Australian Colonists: an exploration of social history. Melbourne, 1974, p. 11; Edward Sweetman, The Constitutional development of Victoria 1851-6, Melbourne, 1920, p. 148; James Alexander Allan, Men and manners in Australia: being a social and economic sketch history, 1945, p. 48.

[15] A.G.L. Shaw, ‘Victoria’s First Governor’, ’La Trobe Journal, no. 71, August 2003, p. 89.

[16] T.A., Coghlan, Labour and Industry in Australia : From the First Settlement in 1788 to the establishment of the Commonwealth in 1901. Melbourne, 1918, pp. 348, 444.

[17] Margaret Kiddle, Men of Yesterday, Melbourne, 1962, p. 161.

[18] Argus, 9 August 1849, p. 2; 22 August 1849, pp. 2, 4.

[19] Robert Thomson A National History of Australia, New Zealand and the adjacent islands. 1917, p. 244.

[20] Henry Gyles Turner, A History of The Colony of Victoria From Its Discovery To Its Absorption Into The Commonwealth of Australia in Two Volumes, Vol. II. A.D. 1854-1900, London, 1904, p. 274

[21] Arthur W. Jose, History of Australasia, Sydney, 1913, p. 105

[22] George William Rusden, History of Australia, 2 vols. Melbourne, 1883, vol 2, pp. 563-65.

[23] George William Rusden, History of Australia, 1883, vol. 2, p. 474.

[24] Philip Gibbs, Romance of Empire, 1906, p. 314.

[25] ‘Further Correspondence on the subject of Convict and Transportation (In continuation of Papers presented February and July 1849)’,  House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP), 1850 [1153] [1285].

[26] Fitz Roy to Earl Grey, 27 June 1849, HCPP, 1850 [1153] [1285].

[27] La Trobe to Deas Thompson, 4 December 1849; 17 December 1849, 49/735, HCPP, 1850 [1153] [1285].

[28] Earl Grey to Fitz Roy, 18 April 1850, HCPP, 1850 [1153] [1285].

[29] Joshua Jebb, Report on the Discipline and Management of Convict Prisons 1850, London, 1851, p. 13.

[30] Empire, 6 February 1851, pp. 3-4.

[31] Earl Grey to Fitz Roy, 4 December 1848, HCPP, 1850 [1153] [1285]; Argus, 15 June 1849, p. 2; 19 June 1849, p. 1 supplement; Shaw, Convicts and the Colonies, p. 324.

[32] Hobart Courier, 24 February 1849, p. 2;

[33] Hobart Courier, 4 April 1849, p. 2.

[34] Hobart Courier, 24 February 1849, p. 2; 4 April 1849.

[35] Sydney Morning Herald, 12 April, 3, p. 2.

[36] Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April 1849, p. 2; Allan William Martin, Henry Parkes: a biography, Melbourne, 1980, p. 56.

[37] Sydney Morning Herald, 20 April 1849, p. 2.

[38] Sydney Morning Herald, 25 April 1849, p. 2.

[39] Sydney Morning Herald, 23 May 1849, p. 2.

[40] Sydney Morning Herald, 21 May 1849, p. 2; 2 June 1849, p. 2; 21 May 1849, p. 2.

[41] Sydney Morning Herald, 9 June 1849, p. 2; 12 June 1849, p. 2.

[42] Shaw, History of the Port Phillip District, pp. 208-9, 294 n. 36; Argus, 21 May 1849, p. 1 supplement; Maitland Mercury, 6 June 1849, p. 2; Colonial Times, 12 June 1849, p. 4.

[43] Argus, 15 June 1849, p. 2.

[44] Argus, 15 December 1849; 18 December 1849

[45] ‘Report of the Principal Superintendent of Convicts of the Arrival, Inspection and Disposal of the Convicts by the Ship “Adelaide” 14 January 1850’, enclosure with Fitz Roy to Grey, 17 January 1850, HCPP [1253] [1285].

[46] Turner, History of the Colony of Victoria, vol. 1, p. 74-75.

[47] Sydney Morning Herald, 12 June 1849, p. 2.

[48] Fitz Roy to Earl Grey, 30 June 1849.

[49] Bathurst Free Press, 17 August 1850, p. 4.

[50] Sydney Morning Herald, 20 August 1850, p. 2.

[51] Sydney Morning Herald, 1 October 1850, 2; p. 7 October 1850, p. 3.

[52] Scott, ‘Resistance to Convict Transportation’, p. 133.

[53] John West, The History of Tasmania, 2 vols, Launceston, 1852, vol. 1, p. 283.

[54] Thomas McCombie, The History of the Colony of Victoria. Melbourne, 1858, p. 174.

[55] McCombie, History of the Colony of Victoria, p. 176.

[56] William Fairfax, Handbook to Australasia; being a brief historical and descriptive account of Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, New South Wales, Western Australia and New Zealand, Melbourne, 1859, p. 165.

[57] South Australian Register, 1 November 1854, p. 2.

[58] Colonial Times, 1 November 1854, p. 2; Argus, 24 October 1854, p. 5.

[59] Argus, 23 October 1854, p. 5.

[60] Argus, 24 October 1854, p. 5.

[61] Argus, 16 May 1856, p. 8.

[62] Melbourne Punch, 15 May 1856, p. 116.

[63] Argus, 14 September 1863, p. 5.

[64] Argus, 13 October 1863, p. 6.

[65] Argus, 20 August 1864, p. 4.

[66] S. T. Leigh, The Handbook to Sydney and Suburbs. Sydney, 1866, p. 12.

[67] Clarence and Richmond River Examiner, 15 October 1881, p. 2

[68] Garryowen (Edmund Finn), The Chronicles of Early Melbourne 1835-1852, Melbourne, 1888, p. 523

[69] James Sheen Dowling, Reminiscences of a Colonial Judge, Anthony Dowling (ed.), Sydney, 1995, pp. 73-74.

[70] Hobart Mercury, 6 March 1893, p. 3; For example, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 April 1893, p. 10; Colac Herald, 14 March 1893, p. 4.

[71] Arthur Patchett Martin, Life and Letters of the Right Honourable, Robert Lowe, Viscount Sherbrooke, London, 1893, vol 1, pp. 381-85.

[72] Suzanne G. Mellor, ‘Martin, Arthur Patchett (1851-1902), Australian Dictionary of Biography.

[73] Martin, Life and Letters, p. 327.

[74] Martin, Life and Letters, pp. 381-82; Rusden, History of Australia, 1883, vol 2, pp. 563-64.

[75] Martin, Life and Letters, p. 382, citing Archibald Michie, A Lecture on the Westminster Reviewer’s Version of Victorian History, Melbourne, 1868.

[76] Argus, 19 September 1868, p. 4.

[77] South Australian Advertiser, 3 October 1868, p. 2.

[78] Hobart Mercury, 9 October 1868, p. 2.

[79] Sydney Morning Herald, 15 May 1849, p. 2; 19 May 1849, p. 2; 6 June 1849, p. 3; 12 June 1849, p. 2.

[80] Edward Jenks, A History of the Australasian Colonies from their foundation to the year 1893. Cambridge, 1895, p. 110.

[81] Turner, History of the Colony of Victoria, vol. 1, pp. 274-75.

[82] Foxhall, ‘Convicts to Colonists’, p. 2; ‘Convicts to Australia’, at

[83] Charles Bateson, The Convict Ships 1787-1868,  1959, 2nd edn., pp. 297, 372.

[84] Charles Cripps, ‘Reminiscences’, handwritten manuscript, 1906, Mitchell Library MSS 1524.

[85] Cripps, ‘Reminiscences’.

[86] Argus, 27 March 1917, p. 8.

[87] Hobart Mercury, 6 March 1893, p. 3 citing James Francis Hogan, Robert Lowe: Viscount Sherbrooke. London, 1893.

[88] Audrey Oldfield, The great republic of the southern seas: republicans in nineteenth-century Australia, Sydney, 1999, p. 106.

[89] Captain John Ross, ‘A journal of a voyage from England to New South Wales in the ship Hashemy John Ross commander. Commencing on Tuesday November 7th 1848-25 June 1849, by Captain John Ross’. Mitchell Library. DLMSQ 19.

[90] Colin Arrott Browning, The Convict Ship. London, 1856, pp. 264-269; Medical Journal of the Hashemy, Medical Journals,  ADM 101/32/5, The National Archives, online at UK Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857.

[91] Health Officer’s Report, Hashemy, State Records Authority of New South Wales: Shipping Master’s Office; Passengers Arriving 1855 – 1922.

[92] John Henderson, ‘Diary kept by an unidentified person, believed to be Mr Henderson, during the voyage of the convict ship Hashemy from England to Australia, 20 Nov. 1848 – 8 June 1849’, National Library of Australia, manuscript MS 7902

[93] Turner, History of The Colony of Victoria , p. 275; A. Gilchrist, ed., John Dunmore Lang: Chiefly Autobiographical 1799-1878, 2 vols, Melbourne, 1951, vol. 2, p. 456.

[94] Joan Ritchie, ‘A Study of Charles Joseph La Trobe Superintendent of the Port Phillip District of New South Wales from 1839 to 1851, unpublished MA Thesis. University of Melbourne, 1966, p. 276 n.113; Convicts on Hashemy – Register of assignment and history, 4/4526, NSW State Records.

[95] Shaw, Convicts and the Colonies, pp. 317, 318, 324.

[96] Gregory Woods, A history of criminal law in New South Wales: the colonial period, 1788-1900. Sydney, 2002, p. 166, citing Shaw, Convicts and the Colonies, pp. 317, 318, 324.

[97] Francis Crowley, A Documentary History of Australia: Colonial Australia, 1841-1874. Sydney, 1980, p. 154.

[98] Anthony William Baker, Death is a good solution: the convict experience in early Australia. Brisbane, 1984, p. 88.

[99] Russel Braddock Ward, Australia since the coming of man, Sydney, 1987, p. 98.

[100] Keith M. Clarke, Convicts of the Port Phillip District. Canberra, 1999, p. 98.

[101] ‘Convicts to Australia’, at

[102] Ian Hawkins Nicholson, Log of logs: a catalogue of logs, journals, shipboard diaries, letters, and all forms of voyage narratives, 1788 to 1988, for Australia and New Zealand and surrounding oceans. Brisbane, 1990; Paul Buddee, Fate of the Artful Dodger: Parkhurst boys transported to Australia and New Zealand 1842-1852, Perth, 1984.

[103] Guide to convict records in the Archives Office of New South Wales, Archives Authority of New South Wales, 1981, p. 303; Bateson, Convict Ships, pp. 332, 328.

[104] Peter Cochrane, Colonial Ambition: foundations of Australian democracy. Melbourne, 2006, p. 204.

[105] Shaw, History of Port Phillip District, pp. 238, 195; Hobart Courier, 15 January 1841, p. 2; Argus, 1 August 1848, p. 2; Petition to Earl Grey – Argus, 8 August 1848, p. 2.

[106] Gipps to Stanley, 31 January 1841, cited in Argus 17 July 1846, p. 2.


From The Edges of Empire


From the Edges of Empire: Convict Women from Beyond the British Isles. Edited by Lucy Frost and Colette McAlpine.

This book tells the remarkable stories of women transported to Australia from the British Isles.  These stirring accounts remind us that the colonies were, from their beginning, populated by people from many cultures, and encourage us to envision the  long reach of the British justice system during the heyday of Empire.

Douglas Wilkie has contributed two chapters to this book:

  1. Where, oh where, is Eugenie Lemaire? pp.172-187

  2. How Louisa La Grange became the narrator in Alexandre Dumas’s Impressions de voyage: Journal de madame Giovanni. pp.206-219.

Format: paperback
Edition: 1st Edition
Published: 2015
ISBN: 9780987144386


Purchase this book

From The Edges of Empire is available from the Convict Women’s Press.


Exodus and Panic

S T Gill, Successful diggers on way from Bendigo, Ballarat Gold Museum Collection

S T Gill, Successful diggers on way from Bendigo, Ballarat Gold Museum Collection

Exodus and Panic: Melbourne’s reaction to the Bathurst gold discoveries of May 1851

Commendation1This article was shortlisted for the “Best Peer Reviewed History Article” in the 2015 Victorian Community History Awards.

Originally published as:

Douglas Wilkie, ‘Exodus and Panic: Melbourne’s reaction to the Bathurst gold discoveries of May 1851’, Victorian Historical Journal, vol. 85, no. 2, December 2014, pp. 189-217.


When news of potentially rich goldfields near Bathurst, west of Sydney, reached Melbourne late in May 1851, there was a ‘migration of the population to New South Wales and … panic [was] created throughout the whole Colony’. At least, that is what a Victorian Legislative Council Select Committee reported in March 1854.[i] By contrast, in October 1851, just four months after the Bathurst news, Victoria’s Lieutenant Governor, Charles La Trobe believed that although the discoveries at Bathurst had ‘unsettled the public mind of the labouring classes … few comparatively of the labouring classes’ actually left Melbourne for Bathurst.[ii] La Trobe’s description of comparatively few leaving Melbourne, does not match the panic and exodus of the Committee’s report; yet historians have repeated the report’s sentiments and ignored La Trobe’s ever since.

This paper investigates the initial response of Melbourne, between late May and mid July 1851, to the news of the Bathurst gold discovery. News between Sydney and Melbourne was usually sent by the overland mail or on the regular steamer Shamrock. The time taken for despatches to arrive varied considerably, depending upon whether the mail was about to leave and unforseen delays along the way. An example of this uncertainty followed the publication of a vague report of gold near Molong in the Sydney Morning Herald on 29 March 1851.[iii] Apart from this unconfirmed gold news, the Sydney correspondent for the Argus had several other reports to send back to Melbourne, the most important concerning a debate in the Legislative Council about the imminent creation of the colony of Victoria. The correspondent had the choice of sending the urgent report either by the overland mail, or by the steamer Shamrock, both of which were due to leave Sydney on 1 April. He decided that, ‘The overland mail and the mail by the Shamrock, close about the same hour to-day, and as it is uncertain which will reach Melbourne first, I think it necessary to send you duplicate communications.’ The overland mail reached Melbourne in time for the Legislative Council report to be published on Tuesday 8 April.[iv]  The gold report, which he considered of lesser importance, was sent by the Shamrock which arrived on Wednesday 9 April, and was published on 11 April.[v] The correspondent dismissed the Molong gold as simply as ‘another gold mine’ and wondered why ‘nothing seems to come of these wonderful discoveries’.[vi] The gold report appears to have created no discernible reaction in Melbourne; the report of impending separation from New South Wales was of much greater interest…

This is an extract from the full article which can be downloaded from Unimelb Minerva or  Academia.

[i] ‘Report of the Select Committee of the Legislative Council on the Claims for the Discovery of Gold in Victoria, together with the Proceeding of Committee, Minutes of Evidence, and Appendix, 10 March 1854’, Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council during the Session 1853–1854, vol. iii, Melbourne, 1854, pp. 4, 10–12; Hereafter ‘1854 Select Committee’.

[ii] La Trobe to Grey, 10 October 1851, House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP), 1852 (1430) (1508).

[iii] Sydney Morning Herald, 29 March 1851, p. 6.

[iv] Argus, 8 April 1851, p. 2.

[v] Argus, 10 April 1851, p. 2.

[vi] Argus, 11 April 1851, p. 2.


Ten Thousand Fathoms Deep

S. T. Gill, Forest Creek (Castlemaine, Victoria) 1852

S. T. Gill, Forest Creek (Castlemaine, Victoria) 1852

Eighteen fifty-one was the year in which Port Phillip was separated from New South Wales and became Victoria. It was also the year in which the great Victorian gold rushes started. Many historians, and even a greater number of non-historians, believe these two events occurred within weeks of each other simply by coincidence. However, the origins of many of the events and decisions of 1851 can be found in events that took place over the preceding two or three years.
In particular, this article discusses the extent to which Charles La Trobe’s response to a largely forgotten 1849 gold discovery in the Pyrenees Ranges of the Port Phillip District may have been influenced by Port Phillip’s anticipated separation from New South Wales, and the inequitable financial arrangements that existed between Sydney and Melbourne.

Originally published as – Douglas Wilkie, ‘Ten Thousand Fathoms Deep: Charles Joseph La Trobe’s decision to postpone gold exploitation in the Port Phillip District until after separation from New South Wales in 1851’, La Trobeana, The Journal of the C. J. La Trobe Society, Vol. 14, No. 1, March 2015, pp. 6-14.

Download the full article.


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