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Thomas Pamplett [pamphlett]
Thomas Pamplett [Pamphlett], one of 200 convicts transported on the Guildford, August 1811
Name, Aliases & Gender
||Thomas Pamplett [pamphlett]
||Groom, James Or Thomas (alias)
Birth, Occupation & Death
|Date of Birth:
|Date of Death:
||1st December, 1838
life span was 60 years*
* Median life span based on contributions
Conviction & Transportation
Sentenced to 14 years
||Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 87, Class and Piece Number HO11/2, Page Number 48
||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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Eric Harry Daly on 15th January, 2013 wrote:
Thomas Pamphlett was a brickmaker in Manchester, England. In 1810, he was charged with stealing a horse and five pieces of woolen cloth. The Justices of Assize sentenced him to 14 years’ transportation.
He worked at Brickfield Hill just south of Sydney town and lived at The Rocks. On 28 May 1814, Pamphlett was charged with two others of stealing the windows from Birch Grove House, the first and only building on the Balmain Peninsula, on 13 May. His punishment was 100 lashes at the marketplace and six months in the Sydney gaol gang in double irons.
After four months he absconded, only to be recaptured and put in the carpenter’s gang, but he escaped again. Finally, on 29 March 1815, he was sent to Newcastle, a place of secondary punishment 100 miles north of Sydney and now the second largest city in New South Wales. Within a few weeks, he disappeared once more. On recapture, Pamphlett was given 50 lashes for “absenting from government labour”. In October, he received another 50 strokes for “neglect of government work”.
On 31 January 1820, Pamphlett successfully applied to the Governor for commutation of sentence, receiving a conditional pardon. He was returned to Sydney, evidently with a wife and three children. They lived in the Hawkesbury River area west of Sydney, where Pamphlett worked on the river in some capacity. He was sentenced to seven years at Port Macquarie penal settlement for stealing from a house at Pitt Town in early 1822 but was let off due to “unsound mind”. He was also reported as “occasionally insane”.
Pamphlett and fellow “ticket of leave” convicts Richard Parsons and John Thompson, along with full convict John Finnegan, were hired by settler William Cox to fetch cedar from the Illawarra District, or the Five Islands, now known as Wollongong, 50 miles south of Sydney. They set sail on their maiden voyage on 21 March 1823 in an open boat 29 feet in length and 10 feet in beam. On board were large quantities of pork and flour and five gallons of rum to buy cedar from the timber cutters, plus four gallons of water.
They got to within sight of Illawarra when a strong breeze blew them away from the coast. The wind became stronger, heavy rain fell and it got dark. They were blown further out to sea. It was five days before they could use any sail, and they drank the water and the rum.They were hopelessly lost. They thought they had drifted south and headed northwest to try to get back to Illawarra and Sydney. Pamphlett spotted land on their twenty-second day at sea. Before they could land, Thompson succumbed to the lack of fresh water and the elements, and collapsed and died.
Pamphlett, Finnegan and Parsons finally landed on Moreton Island. Thinking Sydney was to the north, the set off along the beach in this direction with two sacks of flour and a few other items. They spent the next seven and a half months walking around Moreton Bay, island hopping, and following river and creek banks until they could find a way of crossing them. They lived for periods with several Aboriginal tribes who fed them fish and fernroot and thought they were the ghosts of dead kinsmen due to their pale colour.
While Pamphlett attended a series of organised fights with an Aboriginal friend, Parsons and Finnegan headed further north. The pair quarrelled and Finnegan returned to Bribie Island to the south. Pamphlett also returned to this spot. Parsons continued northwards.
On 29 November 1823, Pamphlett and some aborigines were on the beach at Bribie Island cooking the day’s catch when he saw a cutter in the bay. It was explorer John Oxley who had been searching up and down the coast for a new convict settlement. Only then did Pamphlett learn that Sydney was over 500 miles to the south rather than to the north. He told part of his story to crew member John Uniacke. Next day they picked up Finnegan who was returning from a tribal fight. He showed Oxley the Brisbane River while Pamphlett assisted Uniacke and others with aspects of Aboriginal culture. Parsons was picked up by Oxley on another trip nearly a year later.
Oxley took Pamphlett and Finnegan back to Sydney. A year and a half later, as a labourer at Portland Head west of Sydney, Pamphlett committed another crime. He stole two bags of flour, the very food that had initially kept him alive at Moreton Bay. In a further irony, he was sentenced to seven years’ transportation to the new Moreton Bay penal colony, which had been set up after a favourable report on the area by Oxley, thanks to Pamphlett and Finnegan. The Moreton Bay settlement became Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, Australia.
n October 1833, Pamphlett had served his seven year sentence and was returned to Sydney. His remaining years were uneventful, and he died of unknown causes on 1 December 1838 at Penrith, west of Sydney
Convict Changes History
Eric Harry Daly on 15th January, 2013 made the following changes:
surname Pamplett [pamphlett] (prev. Pamplett [Pamphlett]), alias1 Groom, James Or Thomas (alias) (prev. Groom, James or Thomas (Alias)), date of birth 1788, date of death 1st December, 1838, gender, occupation, crime