Maurice Margarot was one of the Scottish Martyrs, the first political prisoners shipped to Australia. Joseph Holt was an Irish rebel who commanded an independent rebel band of approximately 1500 men in Wicklow County, Ireland. He was shipped to Australia in 1800 on the convict ship
. When Holt arrived in Sydney, the Irish convicts were pretty much constantly planning rebellions and uprisings. Even though nothing could be pinned on Holt directly, Governor King had his suspicions.
The British ruling class most likely survived the 18thC intact due to their policy of dispersement. Any seditionists, democrats, or anyone that challenged the political and social hierarchy was sent off to Australia. This started with the Scottish Martyrs in 1794. Dissidents were sent out to Australia as late as the 1850s until the Western Australian colony complained of Britain dumping political prisoners on them.
The Scottish Martyrs were Jacobins. Thomas Muir was vice-president of a Glaswegian Jacobin group. Robert Hughes writes;
Muir was an ardent constitutionalist whose offence was to advocate yearly elections of Parliament and a broadening of the Scottish franchise. He stood trial for sedition in Edinburgh in 1793, and every juror was hand-picked from the rolls of a Scottish Tory organisation.
Muir was found guilty of distributing Thomas Paine's
Right of Man
. An Englishman Thomas Palmer was charged soon after for distributing seditionist pamphlets which promoted parliamentary reform. He was charged, tried and sentenced in Scotland. Soon after Maurice Margarot, Joseph Gerrald and William Skirving were charged with sedition after appearing and speaking at the National Convention of British reformers meeting.
On the trip to Australia Margarot denounced his fellow martyrs and claimed they were in a mutiny plot to take over the ship. Mutinies were pretty common and the ship's captain didn't think hard before locking Muir, Palmer and Skirving up for the rest of the voyage. Lynette Ramsey Silver writes;
He [Margarot] was, however, considered by many to be a poor character, quite untrustworthy and false to his friends - an opinion which was borne out by the actions of his former comrades who, upon arrival in Sydney, publicly declined to continue to associate with him.
Once in Sydney they were set up with houses, and later given land grants. None of them did hard labor as long as they did not dabble in politics. Other than Margarot, the rest of the Scottish Martyrs held to that compromise. Margarot, however, still fancied himself a subversive but wisely did not throw his lot in publicly or openly with any of the convict rebellions which were constantly stewing with the arrival of the United Irish in 1800.
Margarot appeared to like the intrigue of it all, but was more a person of letters and speeches than any direct action. In Cunningham's plan at one point appears the notion of planting a tree of liberty in Sydney once they have conquered Parramatta and marched to the Quay. Governor King long suspected Margarot's involvement in the 1804 rebellion and was even more convinced of it when papers were seized from Margarot's house. King waited to collect more evidence, but when he was unable, he dispersed Margarot to Norfolk Island - a local form of dispersement.
Like Margarot, Holt had a knack for self-preservation. He was also rather conceited. His book, "A Rum Story" is very difficult to read for that reason. Holt was a farmer in Wicklow County and originally a Loyalist. This was until a group of Loyalists burnt his house down. Holt reacted by killing the group's leader and then burning the leader's house down in reprisal. Holt then joined the United Irishman and successfully managed a large guerrilla force in the wake of the the defeat at the Irish battle of Vinegar Hill. This poem is attributed to Holt;
They burned my house,
They blighted all my hope -
In the king's name,
And drove me to the Pope.
They made me take a rebel's chance;
To save my life -
My children and my wife,
I would have even fought for France.
The "they" in the first two lines is a bit disingenuous. It was a money dispute between Joseph Holt and Thomas Hugo which led to the violence and house burning. After becoming rebel, Holt managed to avoid being captured for five months or so, with no-one giving him up either despite a hefty reward being on his head. In the end he surrendered believing he could take advantage of an amnesty. He also offered to switch sides again if the Loyalists gave him a pardon and compensated him for his house being burnt down. He was charged and sent to Australia. Holt managed to have his pregnant wife and child sail out with him.
Skilled labor was in high demand in Sydney. The colony was having trouble feeding itself, and the knowledge of a farmer, which Holt had been in Ireland, was invaluable. William Cox was sailing on the same ship to Australia. He had a farm out in the Hills district at Dundas and Cox quickly made Holt superintendent of the farm. By all accounts Holt ran the farm efficiently.
Though Holt was amongst the first group of Irish political prisoners sent to New South Wales, planning insurrections were pretty much constant from his arrival until he was sent off to Norfolk Island by Governor King.
Holt was implicated in the foiled rebellion of August 1800 along with James Harrold of being a ringleader, but the Governor and Samuel Marsden did not have sufficient evidence to determine if he really was. They didn't for Harrold either, but packed him off to Norfolk Island just in case. Holt was permitted to remain in Castle Hill, but was forced to watch the flogging of two Irishmen suspected of pike-making;
The place they flogged them their arms pulled around a large tree and their breasts squeezed against the trunk so the men had no power to cringe ... There was two floggers, Richard Rice and John Johnson the Hangman from Sydney. Rice was left-handed man and Johnson was right-handed, so they stood at each side, and I never saw two threchers in a barn move their strokes more handier than those two man-killers did. ...
I [Holt] was to the leeward of the floggers ... I was two perches from them. The flesh and skin blew in my face as it shook off the cats. Fitzgerald received his 300 lashes. Doctor Mason - I will never forget him - he used to go feel his pulse, and he smiled, and said: "This man will tire you before he will fail - Go on." ... During this time [Fitzgerald] was getting his punishment he never gave so much as a word - only one, and that was saying, "Don't strike me on the neck, flog me fair."
When he was let loose, two of the constables went and took hold of him by the arms to keep him in the cart. I was standing by. [H]e said to them, "Let me go." He struck both of them with his elbows in the pit of the stomach and knocked them both down, and then stepped in the cart. I heard Dr. Mason say that man had enough strength to bear 200 more.
Next was tied up Paddy Galvin, a young boy about 20 years of age. He was ordered to get 300 lashes. He got one hundred on the back, and you could see his backbone between his shoulder blades. Then the Doctor ordered him to get another hundred on on his bottom. He got it, and then his haunches were in such a jelly that the Doctor ordered him to be flogged on the calves of his legs. He got one hundred there and as much as a whimper he never gave. They asked him if he would tell where the pikes were hid. He said he did not know, and would not tell. "You may as well hang me now," he said, "for you never will get any music from me so." They put him in the cart and sent him to the Hospital.
Making suspected conspirators watch the inhumanity of a flogging appears to have been normal for suspects that couldn't be charged. After the 1804 Rebellion Father Dixon was forced to watch the flogging of rebels in Sydney and even put his hands in the broken and open flesh that had been churned up by the cat o' nine-tails.
In his book Holt claims no responsibility, or participation in the 1804 rebellion, going as far to claim that he warned Cunningham and Johnston from embarking on any such path as it was folly;
In February 1804 the Devil was busy in New South Wales as ever he was in Ireland. Both Irish and English men, seeing the torment increasing, they formed an opinion that they could conquer the army and get out of the country, and so they could if the steps was taken. Several of them hinted to me about the business and I told them, as they knew after, I said: "Don't attempt any such thing. You seen in Ireland you could not depend on one another and I am sure you will be worse here."
I reasoned the case and showed them cause what would happen. As bad as laws was in Ireland they were worse there, and I told them that there was as much false swearers in New South Wales as was in Ireland, according to number more. They had not army enough, nor could they ever rally or get together.
Holt notes that the English got as attached to the idea as the Irish did. Holt was definitely aware of exactly when the uprising was to begin, he told his workers to remain at the farm and defend it. Brush Farm was left by the rebels as well. After the rebellion nothing could be pinned on Holt, but Governor King decided not to chance it - and sent Holt to Norfolk Island.
Were They Involved?
The answer is probably - but as agitators, not as active conspirators. Both Margarot and Holt were guided by selfishness to actually get their hands dirty in such a dangerous plot and plan of action. Margarot and Holt had it pretty easy in colonial New South Wales so were unwise to give that up. They were very vain men, and probably could not help meddling, hoping to come out at advantage no matter which way the rebellion went.
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and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak
or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb
and Bell Pass
. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak
is a long and difficult hike.
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC]
which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.