The Further References on this Page are from J.J. Knight's 'In The Early Days'
Towards the end of the forties and throughout the fifties of last century there was in Brisbane a small band of indefatigable fighters who were unending in their efforts to prevent the further introduction of convicts from Great Britain and to obtain separation from New South Wales.
Democratic agitation had compelled the abandonment of transportation to the southern towns some years previously, and a few years later the Imperial Government was looking for a place to which to dump convicted felons, and it was thought that Moreton Bay was admirably suited for the purpose. Click Here for Further Reference
It was so far removed from the centres of population in the south and was so sparsely populated that no great objection to the renewal of the system was anticipated by the British authorities. It had been estimated by some of the old residents that in 1849 there were between 400 and 500 convicts in Brisbane and neighbourhood probably about a fourth of the whole population.
Forty had arrived in the Hashemy about the middle of the year 1849, and a number of others by the Rudoph. Later in the same year the Mount Stuart Elphinstone bought 225 while the Bangalore arrived in Moreton Bay on April 30, 1851, with nearly 300 felons. Click Here for Further Reference
Almost coincident with the arrival of these convict ships these three vessels chartered in England by Dr. John Dunmore Lang the ships Fortitude, Chaseley and Lima arrived in Brisbane with about 600 immigrants, and the new arrivals soon began to make their influence felt in the city. They entered the contest freemen versus bondmen with enthusiasm and determination.
The passengers by these immigrant ships had been personally selected by John Dunmore Lang himself. They belonged to the cream of British artisan classes and were endowed with more than the average intellectual equipment; and possessed courage, endurance and self-reliance.
They had come to Australia to raise the level of their lives (said the late Mr. William Clark, who was a passenger on the Lima, to the present writer a few years ago), and they were not likely to willingly submit to the degradation of sharing the country with convicted felons; while passengers by the ship Fortitude emphatically declared, "We do not intent to let our children hear the swish of the lash or the clank of the chain."
Their eyes were focused on a State whose institutions should be absolutely free, and every part of which may be occupied by freemen of their own race and colour.
A splendid optimism dominated them, and they had a high conception of citizenship. These pioneers neither have nor accepted quarter and did not cease to fight until they were assured of a successful consummation of their efforts. Perhaps it is not too much to say that the work done by these fine old pioneers had a more important influence on the industrial development of Queensland than anything that has since been done by State Parliament.
Their love of liberty has been strengthened by a long sea voyage, and the blue skies and wider horizons of this new land, had given a larger meaning to the word "patriotism". Besides deep down in their hearts they felt what Lord Curzon had once described as the "ineradicable pride of race. " Anything therefore inimical to the welfare of the community was condemned by them and in this matter they allowed neither profession nor creed to divide them.
They were bound together by the strongest ties and sympathies and permitted no jealousies to separate them from their efforts to secure the general good. They felt that they were laying the foundations of a great State, and they could not allow inferior material to be used in the cement.
Owing to some difference which had arisen between Dr. Lang and the Colonial Office in London, Captain Wickham the representative in Brisbane of the Sydney Government was instructed that "the immigrants should not be allowed, even temporarily to occupy Crown lands, nor yet be supplied with Government rations."
As Captain Wickham would have nothing to do with them, they had themselves to pay for their conveyance to Brisbane. No accommodation was provided for them in town, but they had permission to camp out of sight beyond the ridge, and from this encampment Fortitude Valley derived its name. Click Here for Further Reference
When the next ship the Chaseley arrived a few months later Captain Wickham informed the passengers that he had received instructions from the authorities in Sydney that he was not to render them any assistance.
There was however, the old convict barracks in Queen Street; but a shipload of convicts was expected in a few days and he would give them accommodation in this building if they would promise to vacate it when the felons arrived.
This they readily agreed to do and bark huts were erected by sympathetic residents for their accommodation on the slope where now stands Central Railway Station and the Normal School. Click Here for Further Reference
The last ship - the Lima - arrived in Moreton Bay on November 3, 1849. She had previously put into Sydney Harbour, and found lying there the Mount Stuart Elphinstone, with convicts on board.
The Sydney people however, had refused to allow them to land, and the ship was ordered to take her cargo of felons to Moreton Bay, where she arrived two days in advance of the Lima. This action on behalf of the New South Wales authorities intensified the dissatisfaction in Brisbane, and strengthened the movement in favour of separation.
As with the two previous ships, no arrangements had been made to convey the passengers and their luggage to town. A meeting was held on board the ship, and a committee was appointed to proceed to Brisbane to make the best possible arrangements for their conveyance to the town wharves.
The delegates interviewed the late Mr. Henry Buckley who was then Brisbane agent for the Hunter River S.N. Company, from whom they chartered, at a cost of £30, the steamer Tamar, which bought the passengers and their belongings to Brisbane. But the people of Brisbane were determined to put a stop to the further importation of transported felons. Click Here for Further Reference
In November 1849, a few days after the arrival of the Lima with free men, and the Mount Stuart Elphinstone with convicts, a great anti-transportation meeting was help in Brisbane. At this meeting Dr. Lang's immigrants rolled up in great force.
One of the passengers by the Fortitude declared that "he and others had given up such prospects as they had in the Old Country, and removed themselves and their families to this one in the hope and expectation that they would not be contaminated by association with convicts, and he objected to being placed in disadvantageous competition in this new country with the convicted felons of England. Let England keep her convicts," he concluded, "and let us have free, poor, but honest artisans." Click Here for Further Reference
- Nut Quad