Sunday, October 17, 2010

Plymouth - The Australian Connection

On our recent visit to the United Kingdom we were interested in finding any references to Australian history, in particular to the convicts that were transported to our shores.

Although we passed through many places that were familiar to us as to where our convicts ancestors came from, it was not until we got to Plymouth that we found some memorial plaques on the Barbican that celebrated the Australian connection.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs

The Tolpuddle Martyrs were six convicts (James Hammett, James Brine, brothers George and James Loveless and father and son Thomas and John Standfield) from the village of Tolpuddle in Dorset, who were transported to Australia on the Surrey in 1834.

They were sentenced for unlawfully administering oaths of loyalty to the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. This Society had been established to fight the continuing reduction in wages and was the beginning of trade unionism in England.

History Services NSW holds records on these six convicts.

They were later pardoned and four of the group returned to England embarking at Plymouth in 1838. The above plaque next to the Mayflower Steps at Plymouth commemorates this.

The First Fleet Ships

Another marble plaque commemorates the loading of convicts onto the transport ships,
Friendship and Charlotte at Plymouth in March 1787. These two ships then left to join
the rest of the First Fleet at Portsmouth from where they set sail to Australia on 13 May 1787.

Unveiled on 13 March 1987, it reads as above:

Another memorial on the Barbican is one to:

"Plymouth Men who Helped to found Modern Australia" including John Macarthur and William Bligh.

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