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
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’.
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. 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. 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’. 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’. 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’. However, Hughes’ 1987 Fatal Shore states that Earl Grey dispatched the Hashemy ‘direct to Sydney’. 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’. Shaw said ‘my “original” sources have been the correspondence between officials in Melbourne, Sydney and London’. 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.
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. Scott repeated this in his 1918 Short History of Australia. 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. 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. 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’.
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’. 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’. 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. 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. In 1904, Henry Gyles Turner also clearly stated the ‘Hashemy was ordered to Sydney and the Randolph to Port Phillip’. Similarly, in 1905 Arthur Jose made no mention of the Hashemy calling at Port Phillip. 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. However, by 1897 Rusden had changed his mind and also claimed the Hashemy came to Port Phillip before being turned away. Likewise, in 1906 Philip Gibbs claimed the Hashemy ‘entered Port Phillip’.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. Nothing more was heard until 4 April 1849 when the Courier reported its destination was Sydney. 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. 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’. 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. 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. A few days later the Anti-Transportation Committee was demanding an explanation from Fitz Roy. Criticism of both Fitz Roy’s promise, and Port Phillip’s wishes, was also expressed in the Legislative Council in May. Nevertheless, the Herald continued reporting the Hashemy being bound for Sydney throughout May and June, and its arrival on 8 June. It reported the ship made only one stop during the voyage—at the Cape of Good Hope on 26 April—and had been ‘looked for from day to day’ in anticipation.
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.  Melbourne knew nothing about the Hashemy’s voyage or arrival until 15 June when the Argus carried the news from Sydney. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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’. 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’. 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. 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’. 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’. 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. 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. 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.’ 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.
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’. 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’ 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’ 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. 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’. 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. 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’. Wilson wrote again in August and repeated the same statement. 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’.
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. 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’. 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.
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’. 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’.
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’. In 1883 Patchett Martin left Melbourne ‘under a cloud … embittered by friends shunning him’. 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. 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’. 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’.
Martin ignored the fact that Michie’s 1868 lecture had been criticized by the Argus as betraying ‘the lecturer’s political bias’; of indulging in ‘abstract arguments and theoretical doctrines which might or might not apply to existing circumstances’; 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’. 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. 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’. 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’. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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’.
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. 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. 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’. 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’. 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’. However, in a footnote Ritchie expressed reservations about the accuracy of the secondary accounts. 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. 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’. Francis Crowley claimed the arrival of the Hashemy ‘roused great public alarm in Sydney and Melbourne’. Anthony Baker—‘When the Hashemy arrived in Melbourne in 1849 with a band of “exiles”, a tumult prevented their disembarkation’. 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’. 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’. 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’. The website gives its source as Ian Nicholson’s Log of Logs, and Paul Buddee’s Fate of the Artful Dodger. 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’. 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.
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. 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. 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 Kirsten McKenzie, Scandal in the Colonies, Melbourne, 2004, pp. 173-4.
 A. G. L. Shaw, Convicts and the Colonies, pp. 317, 318, 324.
 Robert Hughes, The fatal shore: a history of the transportation of convicts to Australia, 1787–1868, London, 1987, p. 555.
 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.
 Shaw. History of the Port Phillip District, p. xvi.
 Alan Gross, Charles Joseph La Trobe, Melbourne, 1980, p. 84; Ernest Scott, ‘Resistance to Convict Transportation, 133.
 Ernest Scott, ‘Resistance to Convict Transportation in Victoria, 1844-1853,’ Victorian Historical Magazine, vol. 1, no. 4, 1911, p. 133.
 Ernest Scott, A Short History of Australia, 2nd edn. London, 1918, p. 161.
 Sydney Morning Herald, 11 August 1849, p. 2; Perth Inquirer, 30 October 1850, p. 3.
 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.
 A.G.L. Shaw, ‘Victoria’s First Governor’, ’La Trobe Journal, no. 71, August 2003, p. 89.
 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.
 Margaret Kiddle, Men of Yesterday, Melbourne, 1962, p. 161.
 Argus, 9 August 1849, p. 2; 22 August 1849, pp. 2, 4.
 Robert Thomson A National History of Australia, New Zealand and the adjacent islands. 1917, p. 244.
 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
 Arthur W. Jose, History of Australasia, Sydney, 1913, p. 105
 George William Rusden, History of Australia, 2 vols. Melbourne, 1883, vol 2, pp. 563-65.
 George William Rusden, History of Australia, 1883, vol. 2, p. 474.
 Philip Gibbs, Romance of Empire, 1906, p. 314.
 ‘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  .
 Fitz Roy to Earl Grey, 27 June 1849, HCPP, 1850  .
 La Trobe to Deas Thompson, 4 December 1849; 17 December 1849, 49/735, HCPP, 1850  .
 Earl Grey to Fitz Roy, 18 April 1850, HCPP, 1850  .
 Joshua Jebb, Report on the Discipline and Management of Convict Prisons 1850, London, 1851, p. 13.
 Empire, 6 February 1851, pp. 3-4.
 Earl Grey to Fitz Roy, 4 December 1848, HCPP, 1850  ; Argus, 15 June 1849, p. 2; 19 June 1849, p. 1 supplement; Shaw, Convicts and the Colonies, p. 324.
 Hobart Courier, 24 February 1849, p. 2;
 Hobart Courier, 4 April 1849, p. 2.
 Hobart Courier, 24 February 1849, p. 2; 4 April 1849.
 Sydney Morning Herald, 12 April, 3, p. 2.
 Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April 1849, p. 2; Allan William Martin, Henry Parkes: a biography, Melbourne, 1980, p. 56.
 Sydney Morning Herald, 20 April 1849, p. 2.
 Sydney Morning Herald, 25 April 1849, p. 2.
 Sydney Morning Herald, 23 May 1849, p. 2.
 Sydney Morning Herald, 21 May 1849, p. 2; 2 June 1849, p. 2; 21 May 1849, p. 2.
 Sydney Morning Herald, 9 June 1849, p. 2; 12 June 1849, p. 2.
 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.
 Argus, 15 June 1849, p. 2.
 Argus, 15 December 1849; 18 December 1849
 ‘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  .
 Turner, History of the Colony of Victoria, vol. 1, p. 74-75.
 Sydney Morning Herald, 12 June 1849, p. 2.
 Fitz Roy to Earl Grey, 30 June 1849.
 Bathurst Free Press, 17 August 1850, p. 4.
 Sydney Morning Herald, 20 August 1850, p. 2.
 Sydney Morning Herald, 1 October 1850, 2; p. 7 October 1850, p. 3.
 Scott, ‘Resistance to Convict Transportation’, p. 133.
 John West, The History of Tasmania, 2 vols, Launceston, 1852, vol. 1, p. 283.
 Thomas McCombie, The History of the Colony of Victoria. Melbourne, 1858, p. 174.
 McCombie, History of the Colony of Victoria, p. 176.
 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.
 South Australian Register, 1 November 1854, p. 2.
 Colonial Times, 1 November 1854, p. 2; Argus, 24 October 1854, p. 5.
 Argus, 23 October 1854, p. 5.
 Argus, 24 October 1854, p. 5.
 Argus, 16 May 1856, p. 8.
 Melbourne Punch, 15 May 1856, p. 116.
 Argus, 14 September 1863, p. 5.
 Argus, 13 October 1863, p. 6.
 Argus, 20 August 1864, p. 4.
 S. T. Leigh, The Handbook to Sydney and Suburbs. Sydney, 1866, p. 12.
 Clarence and Richmond River Examiner, 15 October 1881, p. 2
 Garryowen (Edmund Finn), The Chronicles of Early Melbourne 1835-1852, Melbourne, 1888, p. 523
 James Sheen Dowling, Reminiscences of a Colonial Judge, Anthony Dowling (ed.), Sydney, 1995, pp. 73-74.
 Hobart Mercury, 6 March 1893, p. 3; For example, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 April 1893, p. 10; Colac Herald, 14 March 1893, p. 4.
 Arthur Patchett Martin, Life and Letters of the Right Honourable, Robert Lowe, Viscount Sherbrooke, London, 1893, vol 1, pp. 381-85.
 Suzanne G. Mellor, ‘Martin, Arthur Patchett (1851-1902), Australian Dictionary of Biography.
 Martin, Life and Letters, p. 327.
 Martin, Life and Letters, pp. 381-82; Rusden, History of Australia, 1883, vol 2, pp. 563-64.
 Martin, Life and Letters, p. 382, citing Archibald Michie, A Lecture on the Westminster Reviewer’s Version of Victorian History, Melbourne, 1868.
 Argus, 19 September 1868, p. 4.
 South Australian Advertiser, 3 October 1868, p. 2.
 Hobart Mercury, 9 October 1868, p. 2.
 Sydney Morning Herald, 15 May 1849, p. 2; 19 May 1849, p. 2; 6 June 1849, p. 3; 12 June 1849, p. 2.
 Edward Jenks, A History of the Australasian Colonies from their foundation to the year 1893. Cambridge, 1895, p. 110.
 Turner, History of the Colony of Victoria, vol. 1, pp. 274-75.
 Foxhall, ‘Convicts to Colonists’, p. 2; ‘Convicts to Australia’, at http://members.iinet.net.au/~perthdps/convicts/ships.html.
 Charles Bateson, The Convict Ships 1787-1868, 1959, 2nd edn., pp. 297, 372.
 Charles Cripps, ‘Reminiscences’, handwritten manuscript, 1906, Mitchell Library MSS 1524.
 Cripps, ‘Reminiscences’.
 Argus, 27 March 1917, p. 8.
 Hobart Mercury, 6 March 1893, p. 3 citing James Francis Hogan, Robert Lowe: Viscount Sherbrooke. London, 1893.
 Audrey Oldfield, The great republic of the southern seas: republicans in nineteenth-century Australia, Sydney, 1999, p. 106.
 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.
 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 Ancestry.com. UK Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857.
 Health Officer’s Report, Hashemy, State Records Authority of New South Wales: Shipping Master’s Office; Passengers Arriving 1855 – 1922.
 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
 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.
 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.
 Shaw, Convicts and the Colonies, pp. 317, 318, 324.
 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.
 Francis Crowley, A Documentary History of Australia: Colonial Australia, 1841-1874. Sydney, 1980, p. 154.
 Anthony William Baker, Death is a good solution: the convict experience in early Australia. Brisbane, 1984, p. 88.
 Russel Braddock Ward, Australia since the coming of man, Sydney, 1987, p. 98.
 Keith M. Clarke, Convicts of the Port Phillip District. Canberra, 1999, p. 98.
 ‘Convicts to Australia’, at http://members.iinet.net.au/~perthdps/convicts/park14.html.
 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.
 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.
 Peter Cochrane, Colonial Ambition: foundations of Australian democracy. Melbourne, 2006, p. 204.
 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.
 Gipps to Stanley, 31 January 1841, cited in Argus 17 July 1846, p. 2.