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The politics of grievance : society and political controversies in New South Wales, 1819-1827


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Connor, Michael Charles 2002 , 'The politics of grievance : society and political controversies in New South Wales, 1819-1827', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis studies three controversies of the time and place, namely the
settler's petition of 1819 and the subsequent questioning of the legal status of
emancipists, the Dinnerist Crisis of 1825, and the Sudds-Thompson Case in 1826
— 1827.
In background to the study stands a statement by Michael Roe, 'As
settlement spread, the relative importance of the gaols declined and the penal
method of government became inadequate. What new form of power was to take
its place concerned all interests in the colonies' . 1 Although Roe was discussing the
period 1835 to 1851 this concern with future power had long been present in the
colony. In the period of this thesis that concern was expressed as a desire for the
granting of constitutional reforms, particularly trial by jury and some form of
representative government. When these demands were discussed the colony was
troubled by a question, should the emancipated convicts be allowed to participate
in these boons if they were granted? While following these political concerns, the
individuals placed in the foreground of this study are examined and an attempt is
made to delineate the personal within their public actions. Some of the familiar
building blocks of colonial history are re-examined, and the claims are made that
there were no 'exclusives', William Wentworth was not the author of a book
which appeared over his name, and Laurence Hynes Halloran caused the SuddsThompson
The three clashes studied in this thesis occurred under the administration
of different governors, Macquarie, Brisbane and Darling. They took place
without, and with, a free press. Not all the same protagonists were involved in
each dispute. The first two incidents appear to have common political aims, while
the third protested against a parade ground ceremony and the death of a soldier.
The law courts, public dinners, and iron collars served as occasions for colonial
conflict and political manoeuvring. Each event was political, and personal.
In 1819 an elite, a blended group of emancipated convicts and free
emigrants, organized a widely supported settler petition. At the head of a wish list
of commercial reforms they placed a plea for the introduction of trial by jury —
whether the emancipated convicts were to take part was not clearly represented.
Shortly afterwards, and as Commissioner Bigge was conducting his Inquiry for the
Colonial Office, the legal rights of the freed convicts were disturbed as the
implications of a London trial, Bullock v. Dodd, spread to the colony.
The `dinnerist crisis' of 1825 occurred around the trivial matter of
Governor Brisbane's departure from Sydney. A dinner organized to farewell him
developed into a confrontation between factions. Then, at the end of 1826, the
Darling government became enmeshed in the disastrous Sudds-Thompson Case.
The thesis is largely drawn from an examination of primary sources, and
suggests different perspectives and parameters for the study of colonial society.
Throughout, it is argued that much of the accepted historiography is inaccurate,
partial, and often based on confused chronology. Attention is particularly drawn
to the increasing role of the newspapers, and their powers of choosing matters to
dispute, their ability to sustain and direct argumentation, and their questionable
legacy as historical sources. Also, two men, Edward Eagar and Laurence
Halloran, are brought forward and examined for their contributions to the
confrontations which marked the period 1819— 1827. As its title suggests, 'The
Politics of Grievance' highlights the personal resentments which underpinned the
public face of progressive colonial politicking.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Connor, Michael Charles
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2002 the Author

Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2003. Includes bibliographical references

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