Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lord Sydney and The Convict Arrow

What is the origin of the convict broad arrow that is such a familiar symbol in our convict history?

Andrew Tink in his recent book, Lord Sydney [the life and times of Tommy Townshend] (Australian Scholarly Publishing Pty Ltd 2011), explains that broad arrows (pheons) were used by Lord Sydney's ancestors, Algernon and Henry Sidney in their family coats of arms. Henry Sidney, 1st Earl of Romney, was Master-General of Ordinance (1693-1702) in charge of government supplies. He introduced the use of the broad arrow heads to mark all government property in the United Kingdom.

And so with the decision to transport convicts to New South Wales, the broad arrow was exported on convict property providing a significant, if incidental, link to Lord Sydney's family.

Congratulations to Andrew Tink for his book on Lord Sydney, providing us with a fascinating biography of the person for whom our great city of Sydney was named.

Lord Sydney was Home Secretary in the British Government at the time of the passage of the Transportation Act of 1784. He was responsible for overseeing the logistics of the venture to send convicts to Botany Bay.

Had it was not for his wise choice of Captain Arthur Phillip to command the First Fleet and for his diligent planning of the outfitting of the Fleet, our destiny may have been very different.

If you are interested in Australian history or are researching a convict ancestor, go to our web site at:

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