Following are random page extracts covering Thomas Massey’s transportation to Australia. The aim is to relate something of the writing style and content.

 Example Text Extracts from Chapter 1

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Transported HMS Gorgon 1791

Thomas   Massey   was   committed   for   desertion   as   a   soldier   in   the   47th Regiment    (given    a    life    sentence    for    desertion)    and    then    charged    in company   of   two   others   with   breaking   and   entering   the   house   of   Thom. Hammon”    near   Knutsford   in   1789.   Massey   was   not   charged   with   the   act of   burglary,   but   with   being   in   the   company   of   two   felon    burglars.   One stole    a    shirt,    value    5    shillings,    from    Hammon’s    house.    Massey    was sentenced   to   death   at   Chester,   England   on   3rd   Sept   1789.   Sentence   was reprieved   on   the   condition   of   transportation   for   life.   [See   Appendix   1   for more detail - Mackenzie (2005)] It   is   hard   to   know   the   real   circumstances   behind   Thomas   Massey’s charge   of   desertion.   His   actions   in   later   life,   his   respect   for   authority,   his early   pardon   and   his   later   generous   donation   to   the   Widows   of   Waterloo and   the    Crimean   Patriotic   War   Fund    do   not   fit   the   pattern   of   a   soldier   who hated   army   life   and   tried   to   run   from   service.   Thomas   liked   his   drink   and it   was   more   likely   he   overstayed   his   leave,   or   he   may   have   been   the victim    of    a    disciplinary    example,    or    a    lark    gone    wrong.    The    real circumstances   we   will   likely   never   know,   but   there   is   little   doubt   his service   record   and   the   reason   for   the   desertion   charge   would   have   been thoroughly    investigated    by    Governor    King    in    1800    and    Governor Macquarie   in   1810   and   it   would   seem,   from   their   actions,   Thomas   met with their approval on both occasions.

“Better to be born lucky than rich!”

So   goes   the   old   saying   that   my   mother   was   always   quoting.   It   had   its roots   in   Massey   family   mythology   and   seems   to   me   likely   it   was   often quoted by Thomas himself. Thomas    Massey    sailed    along    with    29    other    male    convicts,    from Spithead,   the   15   March   1791   on   board   the   Royal   Navy   Frigate   HMS Gorgon .   The   Gorgon   was   one   of   eleven   vessels   of   the   Third   Fleet    and   was converted   to   bring   out   stores   and   provisions   to   the   starving   colony   of   New South    Wales.    Her    lower    deck    guns    were    left    in    England    and    her complement   reduced   to   100   men   including   officers.   No   doubt   Massey learned   something   about   sailing   –   due   to   the   reduced   complement,   the 30 male convicts assisted in working the ship. Also   passenger   on   Gorgon   was   Philip   Gidley   King   (2nd   Lieutenant   to Captain   Arthur   Phillip,   HMS   Sirius    -   First   Fleet).   King   who   had   been   sent by   Governor   Arthur   Phillip   to   establish   a   colony   on   Norfolk   Island   had returned   to   England   to   report   on   the   difficulties   of   the   settlements   at   New South   Wales.   King   was   now   returning   on   the   Gorgon   to   take   up   his   post as   Lieutenant-Governor   of   Norfolk   Island.   King   later   became   the   third Governor   of   New   South   Wales   on   28   September   1800,   and   was   Governor from     1800-1806.     King,     like     Arthur     Phillip     and     later     Macquarie, considered   that   ex-convicts   should   not   remain   in   disgrace   forever.   He appointed emancipists to positions of responsibility, regulated the
employment   conditions   of   assigned   servants,   and   laid   the   foundation   of the “ticket of leave” system for deserving prisoners. The   journey   took   six   months,   in   a   wooden   vessel   some   150ft   (50m) long.   King,   although   a   passenger,   was   a   trained   Naval   Officer.   Massey although   a   convict   and   a   crewman   was   a   trained   and   experienced   soldier. It   is   not   hard   to   imagine   their   paths   crossed   on   more   than   one   occasion. In   view   of   the   rapid   preferment   Massey   later   received,   starting   with   his conditional   pardon   in   1800,   it   is   logical   that   King   was   likely   to   have formed opinions as to his character on the voyage out.

A Voyage Round the World, in the Gorgon Man of War

It   is   our   luck   to   have   a   rare   record   of   Thomas   Massey’s   long   voyage   to Australia.   Command   of   Gorgon   was   given   to   Captain   John   Parker.   Mary Ann   Parker,   his   wife,   sailed   with   him   to   Sydney   and   records   the   voyage   in her   1795   book   A   Voyage   Round   the   World,   in   the   Gorgon   Man   of   War. [Parker (1795)] She   writes:   “despite   the   first   fortnight   spent   receiving   a   good   seasoning and   buffeting   in   the   Channel,   it   was   a   good   trip   South.”   Gorgon   stopped first   at   Tenerife   for   nine   days   to   resupply.   Thomas   by   now,   was   becoming just   one   of   the   crew   and   enjoyed   his   share   of   work   and   the   ribbing   and skylarking that constituted the crew at play. Thomas   had   always   had   an   eye   for   the   ladies   and   found   the   Captain’s wife   and   Mrs   King   worthy   of   a   quick   glance   whenever   possible   as   they strolled    the    deck.    He    soon    learned    that    Mrs.    Parker    was    a    most competent    individual,    with    a    cool    judgement    and    a    quick    mind.    He discovered   she   was   fluent   in   Spanish   and   even   heard   her   act   as   an interpreter from time to time. On   29   April   they   crossed   the   line   and   Thomas   found   himself   a   victim   of a   sort   of   baptism   against   which   his   convict   origin   offered   no   protection. As Mary Ann Parker writes: On    the    29th    we    crossed    the    line,    and    paid    the    usual    forfeit    to   Amphitrite    and      Neptune.   Those   sailors   who   had   crossed   the   line   before   burlesqued   the   newcomers     as   much   as   possible,   calling   themselves   Neptune   and     Amphytrite   with   their   aquatic attendants. They   have   the   privilege   to   make   themselves   merry   ;   and      those   who      have never   been   in   South   latitudes   purchase   their   freedom   by   a   small   quantity   of   liquor. But   the   sailor   or   soldier   who   has   none   to   give   is   the   object   of   their   mirth   ;   and   the more restive he, the more keen they are to proceed to business. A   large   tub   of   salt   water,   with   a   seat   over   it   is   placed   in   the   fore-part   of   the   ship,   on     which   the   new   comer   is   reluctantly   put—   the   seat   is   drawn   from   under   him   and when   rising   from   the   tub,   several   pails   of   water   are   thrown   over   him—he   is   then pushed   forward   amongst   his   laughing   shipmates,   and   is   as   busy   as   the   rest   to   get     others in  the  same  predicament. The   next   re-supply   stop   was   St.   Jago   in   the   Cape   Verde   Islands   just   off the    western    coast    of    Senegal,    itself    the    most    westerly    territory    of continental    Africa.    Here    Thomas    learned    from    the    gossip    that    soon circulated   amongst   the   crew   that   even   the   might   of   the   British   Navy deemed   it   wise   to   restrict   shore   visits   to   St.   Jago.   The   islands   had   been colonised   by   the   Portuguese.   They   were   a   major   operating   centre   for   the slave trade … … ...
1. Convicts to a new life

The heavens open - an unforgettable welcome to a new land

On   the   night   of   19   September   1791   at   8pm   Gorgon   was   just   past   the northern   headland   of   what   is   now   Jervis   Bay   when   they   were   hit   by   a “tremendous   thunder   squall   attended   with   most   dreadful   lightening   and constant heavy rain”. About    half    past    eight    the    ship    was    hit    by    lightening.    Mary    Ann describes the event in detail. …   “the   lightning   struck   the   pole   of   the   main-top-gallant-mast,   shivered   it   and   the head   of   the   mast   entirely   to   pieces   ;   thence   it   communicated   to   the   main-top-mast, under   the   hounds,   and   split   it   exactly   in   the   middle,   above   one   third   down   the   mast; it   next   took   the   main-mast   by   the   main-yard,   on   the   larboard   side   and   in   a   spherical direction   struck   it   in   six   different   places;   the   shock   electrified   every   person   on   the quarter-deck;   those   who   were   unfortunately   near   the   main-mast   were   knocked   down, but recovered in a few minutes.” Hit   by   a   fireball:   …   “this   [the   lightening]   continued   until   about   half   past   ten,   when a   most   awful   spectacle   presented   itself   to   the   view   of   those   on   deck;   whilst   we   who were   below   felt   a   sudden   shock,   which   gave   us   every   reason   to   fear   that   the   ship   had struck   against   a   rock;   from   which   dreadful   apprehension   we   were   however   relieved upon   being   informed   that   it   was   occasioned   by   a   ball   of   fire   which   fell   at   that moment.   The   lightning   also   broke   over   the   ship   in   every   direction   :   it   was   allowed, to   be   a   dismal   resemblance   of   a   besieged   garrison;   and,   if   I   might   hazard   an   opinion, I   should   think   it   was   [resembled]   the   effect   of   an   earthquake.   The   sea   ran   high,   and seemed   to   foam   with   anger   at   the   feeble   resistance   which   our   lone   bark   occasioned.     At   midnight   the   wind   shifted   to   the   westward,   which   brought   on   fine   clear   weather, and   I   found   myself   once   more   at   leisure   to   anticipate   the   satisfaction   which   our arrival would diffuse throughout the colony.”

Thomas Massey arrived in Sydney September 1791

Just   where   Thomas   was,   when   the   lightening   and   fire   ball   hit   the   ship, and   what   thoughts   ran   through   his   head,   will   never   be   known,   but   he would   have   been   awestruck,   part   relieved,   part   anxious,   as,   “in   fine   clear weather”,   Gorgon   slid   through   the   gap   in   the   sandstone   cliffs   into   Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) one of the finest harbours in the world. The   Gorgon   arrived   in   Sydney   Cove   on   the   21   September   1791.   At   the time   the   colony   was   suffering   extreme   privation,   made   worse   by   the   non- arrival   of      Guardian,   wrecked   at   the   Cape   of   Good   Hope.   While   3   bulls,   6 cows,   3   rams   and   9   ewes   died   on   the   passage,   recent   deaths   aside,   the crew,   the   convicts   and   the   several   passengers   all   arrived   alive   and   well; due in no small part to the excellence of Captain Parker’s command. This   is   in   sharp   contrast   to   other   ships   arriving   at   the   time.   Many convicts    were    transported    using    private    contractors,    many    of    whom reduced   rations   to   the   bare   minimum   to   increase   profit.   Contractors   were paid    a    fixed    rate    per    head    by    the    government    for    each    individual transported whether they arrived in the colony or not. Mary   Ann   Parker   wrote,   that   her   husband’s   distress   and   disgust   at   the state   of   some   of   the   arrivals   would   remain   forever   in   her   memory.   He   had told   her   “I   visited   the   hospital   and   was   surrounded   by   mere   skeletons   of men—   in   bed   and   on   every   side   lay   the   dying   and   the   dead.   Horrid spectacle!”
1. Convicts to a new life
For   example   Albemarle    arriving   on   13   October   1791   bought   250   male and   6   female   convicts.   Of   these   32   male   convicts   died   on   the   passage   and 44   were   sick   on   arrival.   Britannia    arriving   on   14   October   that   year   had 129   male   convicts   of   which   21   died   on   the   passage   and   38   were   sick when landed. Thomas   would   have   been   acutely   aware   that   he   was   lucky   indeed   to have    made    his    trip    across    the    world    in    a    British    Navy    vessel,    as    a member   of   the   working   crew   and   under   the   eyes   of   someone   as   important as   King.   Was   it   luck,   or   was   he   picked,   or   a   volunteer?   Just   how   this came   to   pass   would   be   a   story   worth   exploring.   In   any   event   it   seems   to have   been   recognised   by   Thomas   as   the   start   of   a   new   life   and   there   is nothing in the records to suggest he ever wanted to return to England.

Reflections on the voyage and a new life

For   a   short   time   after   his   arrival   Thomas   remained   attached   to   the crew   of   Gorgon   as   the   cargo   was   unloaded   and   repair   of   the   lightning damage   commenced.   What   he   found   on   shore,   was   not   at   all   what   he expected.    The    crew    of    Gorgon    were    saviours    who    had    bought    much needed   supplies   to   a   starving   colony.   They   were   welcomed   wherever   they went.   Captain   Parker   was   a   man   held   in   high   esteem   and   his   wife   was the    talk    of    the    town.    All    who    arrived    on    Gorgon,    convicts    included, basked in the reflected glory of the association. For   Thomas   this   was   the   first   glimmer   of   the   possibilities   of   a   new   life. He   had   arrived   as   a   convict,   initially   unsure   of   the   tyranny   his   sentence might   impose,   but   he   quickly   observed,   fellow   convicts   in   the   settlement happily   involved   in   the   daily   aspects   of   colony   business.   He   did   know   of the   labour   gangs   used   to   punish   repeat   offenders   and   the   stories   of   theft, treachery   and   brutality   that   led   to   hangings,   but   he   learned   also   there were rewards for loyalty, honesty and hard work. As   the   weeks   passed   Thomas   would   have   found   some   time   to   reflect   on the   last   traumatic   weeks   of   his   voyage.   The   horror   of   the   drownings   in   a cold    heavy    sea;    the    sudden    and    unexpected    terror    of    the    lightening strike;   the   fire   ball   in   the   middle   of   a   wild   unknown   sea;   the   looming unknown   of   his   sentence   in   a   strange   land.   Slowly,   he   must   have   come   to realise,   it   had   all   been   like   a   baptism   of   fire.   He   had   survived.   He   was being   given   a   new   start   in   life,   and   he   resolved   to   make   the   best   of   it, come   what   may.   He   had   learned   so   much.   On   Gorgon   he   saw   the   respect given   to   men   of   justice   and   principle.   He   observed   the   finer   aspects   of command   structure.   He   thought   again   of   the   lessons   learned   in   the   Cape Verde    Islands    of    the    evils    of    slavery    and    how    greed    and    treachery marched hand in hand. … He would apply what he had learned and build a better life.
Sydney Cove as seen by newly arrived convict Thomas Massey 1791 View of Parramatta as known to Thomas Massey 1793
Sydney Cove as known to Thomas Massey 1793 – by Fernando Brambila
Parramatta as known to Thomas Massey 1793 – by Fernando Brambila
Sydney Cove 1791 - as it looked to arriving convict Thomas Massey
Sydney Cove c1791 at the time of Thomas Massey’s arrival in Australia Watercolour by Lieutenant William Bradley (Mitchell Library of NSW - Safe 1/14)
Thomas Massey and the first 50 years of Launceston Tasmania -Biography
Thomas Massey biography - front cover image
1. Convicts to a new life
1. Convicts to a new life
Early images of Sydney life c.1791-93
1. Convicts to a new life