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Francis Macnamara

** community contributed record **

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Francis Macnamara
Aliases: Frank The Poet, Hill
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1810
Occupation: -
Date of Death: 1861
Age: 51 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 60 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 7 years

Crime: Stealing
Convicted at: Ireland, Kilkenny
Sentence term: 7 years
Ship: Eliza
Departure date: 2nd February, 1831
Arrival date: 29th May, 1831
Place of arrival Van Diemen's Land
Passenger manifest Travelled with 224 other convicts


Primary source: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/macnamara-francis-13073
Source description:

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Community Contributions

Tim Flynn on 23rd May, 2013 wrote:

Francis MacNamara (c.1810-1861), convict, known as ‘Frank The Poet’, was possibly from County Clare, Ireland, although he was reported at his trial at Kilkenny in January 1832 to be ‘a real Corkonian’ in his speech. His writings show that he had a good education in English literature and was familiar with the Irish Bardic tradition and its poetic forms. MacNamara was entered in the convict records as both Protestant and Catholic and with different places of origin and occupations. Sentenced to seven years transportation for smashing a shop window and stealing a piece of cloth, he entertained the court to an extempore epigram expressing his happiness at being sent to ‘Botany Bay’. Aboard the convict transport Eliza he composed ‘a mock heroic poem’ about his trial; this did not prevent him from incurring a flogging for ‘bad conduct’.

Reaching Sydney on 6 September 1832, MacNamara was assigned to John Jones, but within three months was put in an ironed gang for an undisclosed offence. During the next eight years he received fourteen floggings (650 lashes) and served three and a half years in road gangs, thirteen days of solitary confinement and three months on the treadmill. Early in 1838 he was assigned to the Australian Agricultural Co. at Calala on the Peel River, before being moved to Stroud and in 1839 to the company’s coalmines at Newcastle. Apparently refusing to work underground, he was transferred to an ironed gang at Woolloomooloo and from there to Parramatta, then to Berrima to work on road making. For escaping and carrying arms stolen from their guards, he and four others were sentenced to seven months transportation to Van Diemen’s Land in July 1842.

Apart from being punished for leading a successful go-slow protest, MacNamara did not get into trouble at Port Arthur. He received his ticket-of-leave in January 1847, his conditional pardon late that year and his full pardon in July 1849. Moving to Melbourne, he subsequently vanished from the record apart from an appearance in 1861 at the Mudgee goldfields in New South Wales where he made a genealogy for a local innkeeper and an illuminated copy of Burns’s ‘Man Was Made To Mourn’. An 1868 description by Marcus Clarke of an Irish poet in one of the ‘low’ Melbourne pubs sounds very like MacNamara, but there is no record of what became of him.

There is dispute over how many of the verses that circulated orally and were written down by other people late in the nineteenth century were composed by ‘Frank the Poet’. Incontestably, he wrote his magnum opus, ‘The Convict’s Tour to Hell’, while working as a shepherd at Stroud in October 1839, and subsequently at Newcastle composed three petitions to the authorities, in verse. Other works which can be more or less confidently attributed to him were: ‘Dialogue Between Two Hibernians in Botany Bay’, ‘Labouring with the Hoe’, ‘The Seizure of the Cypress Brig’, ‘The Ballad of Martin Cash’, the celebrated ‘The Convict’s Lament’ (also known as ‘Moreton Bay’) and some epigrams. While possessing an extensive knowledge of classical literary allusions, he was also an extempore versifier. His poems and songs had instant appeal to the convict population for their spirited opposition to the ‘System’ and were enthusiastically rendered around the evening campfire wherever convicts gathered.

Select Bibliography
? J. Meredith and R. Whalan, Frank the Poet (Melb, 1979)
?B. Reece, ‘Frank the Poet’ in B. Reece (ed), Exiles from Erin (Lond, 1991).

Convict Changes History

Tim Flynn on 23rd May, 2013 made the following changes:

convicted at, term years, voyage, source, firstname, surname, alias1, alias2, alias3, alias4, date of birth 1810, date of death 1865, gender, occupation, crime

Tim Flynn on 23rd May, 2013 made the following changes:

convicted at, term 7 years, date of death 1861, crime

Tim Flynn on 23rd May, 2013 made the following changes:

alias1 Frank The Poet (prev. The Poet)

Tim Flynn on 23rd May, 2013 made the following changes:


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