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Michael Downing, one of 184 convicts transported on the Phoenix, November 1821
Name, Aliases & Gender
Birth, Occupation & Death
|Date of Birth:
|Date of Death:
life span was 58 years*
* Median life span based on contributions
Conviction & Transportation
Sentenced to Life
||Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 88, Class and Piece Number HO11/4, Page Number 120
||This record is one of the entries in the British convict transportation registers 1787-1867 database compiled by State Library of Queensland from British Home Office (HO) records which are available on microfilm as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project.
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Peter on 10th August, 2014 wrote:
was one of 12 transported for High Treason in WRY 1820 - the other 11 were sent per “Lady Ridley” in 1821.
employed as Hospital Constable in Hobart.
Free Pardon 1826; departed VDL soon after.
The ship he was on went to Sydney, but not yet established if MD stayed in Sydney or moved on.
Maureen Withey on 3rd February, 2020 wrote:
Michael Downing was charged with High Treason for taking part in the Yorkshire West Riding Revolt of 1820.
The Yorkshire West Riding Revolt of April 1820 was an uprising planned by working class radicals. It is thought to have been associated with Scottish uprisings, and occurred just as those arrested in the Peterloo Massacre and other reform demonstrations of 1819 were coming to trial. The desire for universal suffrage, annual elections and an end to the Corn Laws were the main motivation for radicals.
On 1 April, about 2,000 armed men approached the town of Huddersfield from four directions, with the intention of taking the town from the garrison stationed there. About 400 men within Huddersfield itself were part of the plan. However, for some reason the plan was aborted, the insurgents withdrew and returned to their homes and only four men were arrested, after the event.
On the evening of 11 April, a group of from 300 to 500 men from Barnsley and the nearby villages of Dodworth and Monk Bretton marched to Grange Moore, near Huddersfield. They believed that they were part of a rising postponed from 1 April and that they would meet with other groups and take Huddersfield. They carried arms and provisions, marched to a drum beat and carried political banners which they had used in meetings in 1819. On arriving at Grange Moore, they found that only about 20 men from Huddersfield had come to join them, and that the other towns had not mobilised. Most fled, and when the military arrived to confront them, they arrested a small group who did not resist.
In Sheffield, a simultaneous event did take place, although as on 1 April, a planned attack on a barracks was apparently aborted. About 200 armed men assembled, marched, split into two groups then reassembled in the Haymarket. They chanted ‘ Hunt and Liberty’, ‘The Revolution, the Revolution’ and ‘All in the Mind for the Barracks’. Their leader, John Blackwell, symbolically fired off a pistol, but this was the only shot fired. The men simply dispersed.
At Halifax, as in Sheffield, there was a meeting of men who chanted loudly and fired off a rocket, before dispersing.
At Mirfield and Dewsbury there were general strikes.
On 12 April at Wigan in Lancashire, about 300 men assembled, thinking they were to be part of a general rising, but as in Grange Moore, dispersed in confusion.
Four men were prosecuted as a result of the events on 1 April. John Peacock and John Lindley were transported to Van Diemen’s Land and Nathaniel Buckely and Thomas Blackburn served two years imprisonment before being pardoned.
Twenty two men were prosecuted for High Treason as a result of the events of 12 April at Grange Moore. They admitted their actions and entered a group plea of guilty, relying on William Comstive, their leader, to be their spokesman. They were sentenced to death but recommended for mercy and the sentences were commuted to imprisonment or transportation to Van Diemen’s Land.
Eleven of the 22 were told they would be deported to Van Dieman’s Land – the Australian penal colony which was later renamed Tasmania, while the rest were sent to the ‘hulks’ (prison ships). John Burkinshaw and his brother George Burkinshaw were among those charged with high treason. One pleaded guilty, the rest including John and George pleaded not guilty. The penalty if the charge was proved was death, however they were told if they changed their plea to guilty, they would be spared. The guilty plea was subsequently entered and the death sentence was replaced with transportation – 11 of them, including John, for life and the remainder, including George, for 14 years. The ‘lifers’ were sent to Van Dieman’s Land.
Eleven arrived in 1820 on the ‘Lady Ridley’ and a twelfth transportee, Michael Downing, arrived on the ‘Phoenix’ in 1822.
Convict Changes History
Peter on 10th August, 2014 made the following changes:
convicted at, date of birth: 1772 (prev. 0000), gender: m, occupation, crime