Sunday, December 2, 2018

A convict-free colony please

Unlike every other state in Australia except Victoria South Australia was not founded as a convict colony. In 1834 the British Parliament passed the South Australia Act that decreed that the new colony would be convict free and in 1836 the first ships arrived with government officials and new settlers.

At some time in the early years of the settlement my husband's 4th great-uncles, Alexander and William Honeyman, travelled to Adelaide by ship from Tasmania. The brothers were born in Falkirk, Scotland and had travelled to Sydney, New South Wales in 1821 with their mother to join their father. (There is much more to this story but I'm cutting to the chase.)

The father had died by the time the family arrived and both boys were placed in an orphanage when their mother remarried. Details are vague but it appears that the boys later joined whaling ships that sailed out from Sydney and Hobart.

In February 1845 there was a petition, a memorial signed by South Australian residents, asking for a guarantee that the state of South Australia would remain convict free and it was published in the newspaper together with the names of the signatories.

South Australian 14 February 1845
On the list is one of the brothers, Alexander Honeyman, who was living at Port Adelaide at the time.

The irony is that the father of Alexander and William (and their sisters Annie and Margaret) was a convict!! William Honeyman Snr was transported to New South Wales in 1816 for robbery. And their older sister Annie had married a convict in Tasmania in 1828 (and died in childbirth the same year).

I suspect that if Alexander and William had been told that their father was a convict (he was in prison and then transported when the boys were just toddlers) they would not have talked about it because in those days a convict background was shameful.

There must have been a lot of people with secrets in the early days of colonisation.

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