The Rebel Ship Minerva: Ireland to Sydney, 1800, by Barbara Hall
“I hope you have fortitude to withstand this great trouble and distress for tho we may be separated in this life, we should get happiness. Pray keep up your spirits we may meet again…”
So writes Dubliner Joseph Davis, convicted of high treason for administering rebel oaths, to his wife Mary while on board the Minerva awaiting transportation. The year is 1799, one year on from the biggest uprising Ireland had witnessed in recent history. Davis was one of around 200 men and women sent to New South Wales that year. Many were involved in the 1798 rebellion, which meant the Minerva was carrying the largest contingent of rebels of any ship yet sent to Sydney. What this meant for the fragile colony was anyone’s guess.
In The Rebel Ship Minerva, Barbara Hall traces the lives of the human cargo on board. Hear about their trials, which captivated Ireland at the time. Some had chosen voluntary exile, others were tried by court martial. There were rebel priests and urban criminals, such as Ann Kelly, aka Croppy Nance. A few would become the colonial ‘glitterati’ of Sydney, including General Joseph Holt, and free immigrant, artist John Lewin. Others would be involved in the first Irish rebellion on Australian soil, in September 1800.
These were men and women whose story is integral to the story of colonial Sydney. Hear from the convicts themselves, through court documents and letters they wrote to their family. Learn about their fate as they struggled with their new life, and the legacies they left behind.
Published March 2015; 253 pages with bibliography and index