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James Aquinas Reid and family

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)

With Dr SHELAGH NODEN (University of Aberdeen)


To cite this:

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney) with Shelagh Noden (University of Aberdeen), "James Aquinas Reid and family", Australharmony (an online resource toward the history of music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia):; accessed 3 April 2020

James Aquinas Ried (Reid), Chile, c.1860s

Dr. Aquinas Ried, in the uniform of the Valparaíso German Fire Brigade, c.1860s

REID, James Aquinas

(Dr. J. A. REID; in Chile, Dr. Aquinas RIED [sic])

Musician, organist, flute player, composer, surgeon, naturalist, explorer, diarist

Born Aberdeen, Scotland, 7 September 1809, child of William REID and Elizabeth FRASER
Baptised "James", St. Peter's Catholic Chapel, Aberdeen, 17 September 1809
Arrived Sydney, NSW, 1 April 1839 (passenger on the Augustus Caesar, from London, 17 November 1838)
Reparted Sydney, ? 23 February 1840 (passenger on the Nautilus, for Norfolk Island)
Departed Norfolk Island or Sydney, ? early 1844 (for Valparaíso)
Arrived Valpariaso, Chile, by September 1844
Died Valparaíso, Quinta Región de Valparaíso, Chile, 17 May 1869 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)

REID, Catherine Ann (Mrs. William J. Howard BOWER)


Born ? Aberdeen, Scotland
Arrived Sydney, NSW, 1 March 1839 (passenger on the Augustus Caesar, from England)
Married William J. Howard BOWER, Sydney, 15 February 1840
Departed Sydney, 21 January 1846 (passenger on the Jane Goudie, for London)

REID, Mary


Born ? Aberdeen, Scotland
Arrived Sydney, NSW, 1 March 1839 (passenger on the Augustus Caesar, from England)
Departed Sydney, 21 January 1846 (passenger on the Jane Goudie, for London)


The immediate purpose of this page is to document as closely as possible the early life and musical and medical career of James Aquinas Reid, from his birth in Scotland in 1809, to his arrival in Australia in 1839, and his final embarkation from Norfolk Island, for Chile, sometime during the summer of 1843-44.

I had been trying to flesh out the biography of the mysterious Dr. J. A. Reid since writing about his brief musical career in Sydney, Australia (March 1839-February 1840) in my 2011 doctoral thesis.

I had then already made contact with Scots musicologist Shelagh Noden (University of Aberdeen), who had found evidence of Reid's musical and medical career in Aberdeen and Glasgow during the 1830s, and letters and later copies of some of his compositions (Noden 2010, Noden 2014).

But only after I had submitted my thesis did I discover that, in March 1840, Reid had gone to Norfolk Island as an assistant colonial surgeon under the new commandant and fellow Scot Alexander Maconochie. There Reid also become a key contributor to the implementation of Maconochie's famous reform system, and very plausibly the source of the latter's oft-reported interest in music as a reformative tool (see below). But although I was collecting what little information I could find about his Norfolk Island sojourn, I had no idea of what happened to Reid after around 1844-45.

Then, early in November 2012, I received an email from Rob Wills, of Brisbane, who had been researching some convict memoirs in the State Library of New South Wales. The catalogue record for this collection refers to Dr. J. A. Reid also as "Dr. Aquinas Reid", and a quick google search led me directly to a very unexpected conclusion: that Reid and Dr. Aquinas Ried [sic] of Valparaíso, Chile, were one and the same person.

I had already for some time suspected that the eminent Australian medical historian, the late Bryan Gandevia (1925-2006), had taken an interest in Reid, and this crucial clue also led me to material he had collected on "Aquinas Ried" now in the History of Medicine Library, of the Royal Australian College of Physicians in Sydney. These include Gandevia's own copies of several Chilean publications dealing with Reid/Ried, notably Keller and Fonck's 1927 Dr. Aquinas Ried: Leben und Werke.

As I then realised, there is a mass of references to Aquinas Ried (as it is always spelt there, a Spanish phonetic variant of his original surname) in Chilean and other American sources, literature both primary and secondary, historical and contemporary. In Chile, Ried is not only himself clearly considered to be something of a minor national hero (a civic leader, medical pioneer, explorer, naturalist, founder of fire brigades), but he also fathered two sons later prominent in Valparaíso affairs.

As a musician, Aquinas Ried is credited with having composed the first Chilean "national opera", Telésfora (the libretto only of which now survives), and he also composed several more operas there.

Chilean accounts agree that the "English Doctor" had, nevertheless, been born in Regensburg, Bavaria. But whether there, or more likely in Scotland, Reid was, indisputably, born into a prominent Aberdeen Catholic family, and, as was family tradition, he was sent to be schooled at the Scots College in Regensburg.

According to his countryman and fellow Catholic, the Sydney journalist (and keen musical amateur) W. A. Duncan, who had met him previously in Scotland, Reid had composed an oratorio based on Milton's Paradise lost that was performed in Glasgow. Among works composed by Reid that were performed in Sydney during 1839 were his Mass no. 1 in C, sung at St. Mary's Cathedal, and excepts from an opera Zriny, performed in a concert.

Reid appears to have gotten into serious financial trouble after contracting to buy the business and stock of the Sydney music retailer Andrew Ellard (not to be confused with his son Francis Ellard) early in 1840. After having spent less than a year in Sydney, Andrew Ellard sold up his stock and returned to Dublin. In what he might well have though to be an inspired move, Reid contracted to sell off much the stock to his new employer Alexander Maconochie, for use by the Norfolk Island prisoners. But, having received only 46 pounds from Maconochie (which he, Maconochie estimated more likely valued at 200 or 300  pounds), Reid remained saddled with further debts to Ellard and others, which dogged him for several years to come, as he recorded in a series of 9 letters (now in the State Library of New South Wales) written from Norfolk Island to his friend, the artist Henry Curzon Allport (brother and brother-in-law of Joseph and Mary Morton Allport of Hobart).

Reid was Maconochie's highly valued assistant early in his reform project, and, since Maconochie had never before expressed any professional interest in music, it is likely that Reid prompted and possibly even scripted parts of the policies Maconochie outlined in documents in 1840.

A couple of years later, when Maconochie's own position was increasingly in question, Reid had a spectacular falling out with his employer after it was discovered that Maconochie's daughter, Mary Ann (Reid had been her music teacher) had conceived a passion for him, which he eventually returned, leading to her father charging him with breach of parental trust, this apparently having occurred sometime around the new year of 1842.

Mary Ann (d. May 1855, aged 32) was of marriageable age, and one might have thought that Reid, a well-educated and cultured surgeon and musician, might have been considered a good catch, were it not that his debts disqualified him, as perhaps also the fact that he was a Catholic.

Reid later claimed that the affair with Mary Ann was only a pretext, and that Maconochie was eager to distance himself in order to be able to blame Reid for the failure of his reforms. Reid was moreover vindicated when, shortly afterwards, in mid 1842, Mary Ann Maconochie similarly conceived a similar passion for her new music teacher, the convict Charles Sandys Packer, and had to be sent back to London and the custody of an aunt.

A long and detailed letter from Reid to the Anglican chaplain T. B. Naylor, charting the history of his relationship with Miss Maconochie, now in the State Library of New South Wales, is transcribed below as DOCUMENT 12; as so too, in a different collection in the State Library, is a letter from Maconochie to Reid reprimanding him for being too lenient with prisoners (see DOCUMENT 10) below).

There is, I suspect, considerably more to the story of Reid's time on Norfolk Island than I have yet been able to document.

There would seem to be some likelihood that he went there originally partly at the behest of the Catholic hierarchy in Sydney, and perhaps more specifically of the vicar-general Bernard Ullathorne, to provide assistance to Maconochie, if at all possible, in his reforms, a project of crucial importance to the Catholic party in Sydney.

He also appears to have acted, on at least one occasion, as a Norfolk Island correspondent for the Catholic newspaper the Australasian Chronicle, then still being edited by its founder W. A. Duncan, who had not only known Reid in Scotland, but who was also a member of St. Mary's choir, in Sydney, during Reid's tenure there.

Interestingly, after Ullathorne's successor as vicar-general, Francis Murphy, removed Duncan from the editorship of the Chronicle late in 1842, Reid was encouraged by a clerical friend (perhaps the priest Joseph Platt) to consider returning to Sydney to take up the editor's chair, combining that post with that of organist of St. Mary's Cathedral. That this never eventuated (and was, perhaps, never likely to) was yet another of the many disappointments Reid suffered, before making, late in 1843, the radical - and as it turns out, personally transforming - decision to seek his future in the Catholic colonies of South America.

An otherwise unidentified mid 20th-century author, named, Evans, also ascribed to Reid the collection of the series of 9 original manuscript convict lives now preserved in the State Library of New South Wales; see below Convict autobiographies.

Rob Wills considered this proposition in his excellent 2015 study, Alias Blind Larry, a biography of the author of one of the 9 accounts, James Lawrence (Laurence). In his afterword dedicated to Reid, Wills also discussed the accounts of the other authors in some detail, in particular that of David Jones, comparing Jones's original manuscript with Reid's later recounting of his story in Chile, as printed (in German) in Keller 1927 (see DOCUMENT 13).

I have received information and kind messages from two of Ried's Chilean direct descendants, Ana Maria Ried Undurraga (2012-13) and Jens Bücher (2015). According to the latter, Aquinas had three sons, not two as usually reported. The eldest Hermann was born c.1847; he played the violin being a young boy, and went probably to Buenos Aires where he worked as an artist (or perhaps musician?), and never came back to Chile. Bücher warns that he has no proof of this, but draws on memories of what his my mother told him about a family member that he now believes may have been Hermann. The second son, therefore, was Gustavo (1850-1927), and the third Arnold (1856-1927/8).

Aquinas Ried is mentioned in a very large number of Chilean and other American sources - musical, cultural, medical and scientific - both historical and modern. For the time being, I have only cited the earliest and most important of these below.


1809 September 7

Birth of James Reid (Records of the Scots Colleges 1906)

1809 September 17

Baptism of James Reid, St. Peter's Catholic Chapel, Aberdeen; James son of William REID and Elizabeth FRASER (born October 1784, Lonmay, Scotland; baptised 30 October 1784, Strichen) (Aberdeen Catholic Register, Scottish Catholic Archives; sighted Noden August 2015)

Later in Valparaíso, he was supposed to have been born at "Strahlfels" [recte Strahlfeld], in Regensburg, Bavaria, in about 1810 (Fonck 1895).

The Aberdeen and Regensburg records identify him only as James; he assumed the second forename "Aquinas" later, perhaps as a confirmation name.

In correspondence, James Reid referred to his "uncle", the Catholic priest and composer, Charles Fraser (1789-1835), of Aberdeen (Gillis 1835), also an alumnus of the Scots school in Regensburg. Charles Fraser was indeed his mother's brother. Another family member was Elizabeth's maternal uncle James (Gallus) Robertson, OSB (1758-1820), ordained priest in 1782, who was still a professed monk at the Scottish monastery at Regensburg when James Reid arrived there as a boy in 1817 (Noden). He was a missioner at Strichen, Scotland, in 1784 when Elizabeth Fraser was baptised.

At the time of Reid's birth, the priest-in-charge at Aberdeen since 1799, and until his death, was Charles Gordon (1772-1855), popularly known as "Priest Gordon", also himself a composer, and much later copyist of the Dufftown manuscripts that contain 2 works ascribed to "J. A. Reid".

I do no yet know whether James's sisters were younger than him, older, or both; since W. A. Duncan described them in his concert review (23 August 1839) as Miss Reid and Miss M. Reid, Catherine, by convention, must have been the elder of the two.

1819 April 18

Birth of James Reid's younger brother, John Reid. He was already studying for the priesthood when his siblings left for Australia in 1838. Also a composer, he served under Charles Gordon as priest and choirmaster at St. Peter's Catholic Chapel in Aberdeen until his death in 1854, aged 35 (Noden).

1817 November 1

James Reid entered the school of the Scots Benedictine Monastery, Regensburg (Ratisbon) as one of 3 new scholars; under abbot Benedictus, alias of Charles Arbuthnot (1737-1820) (Records of the Scots Colleges 1906); his maternal uncle Charles Fraser had been a pupil there from 1799 until c.1805.


James Reid completed studies at Regensberg and returned to Scotland (Records of the Scots Colleges 1906).

1830 August

James Reid graduated with a doctorate from Ludwig-Maximilians Universitat, Munich (Lira 1969).

? 1832

Having, with help of a paternal uncle, studied medicine, James Reid was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons, London (Lira 1969); Noden has seen a letter of the 1830s in which he refers to "the expense of graduation in London."

? 1832-35

After graduation, James Reid returned to Aberdeen, "for more than four years", after which (? after Charles Fraser's death in 1835) he moved to Glasgow.

1835 March 12

Reid's uncle, Charles Fraser, died at Aberdeen. In a letter James Reid states that all the music sung at his funeral, on 19 March, was composed by Charles (only one work survives, in the Dufftown MSS) (Noden)

1837 April:

Oratorio on Paradise Lost performed at St. Andrew's Catholic Chapel, Glasgow; in Australia in 1839, W. A. Duncan identifies it as James Reid's composition.

1838 March

James Reid conducts concert at Ducrow's Arena, Glasgow. Noden cites a letter in which Reid writes:

In Glasgow I have laboured a good deal both in the medical profession and as director of the choir . . . As director of the choir I succeeded in raising a splendid orchestra and in giving 4 Oratorios.

1838 November 17

Three Reid siblings sail from London on the Augustus Caesar; also on board are Catherine's future husband William Bower, and Henry Allport and family.

1839 April 1

James, Mary, and Catherine Reid arrive in Sydney, NSW, on the Augustus Caesar. Only Catherine and Mary Reid appear on any of the published incoming passenger lists; perhaps due to lack of space, James arrived among the 22 steerage passengers. Since Bower's name did not appear on the departing cabin passenger departure list, perhaps James changed places with him during the voyage because he (Bower) was ill.

1840 February 15

Catherine Reid marries William J. Howard Bower, Sydney.

1840 February 22

James Reid almost certainly sailed of Norfolk Island, either with his new employer Alexander Maconochie, on the convict transport Nautilus, or on the Governor Phillip.

1842 January

Reid's affair with Mary Ann Maconochie having been discovered by her parents, his ongoing personal relationship with Maconochie is broken, and their professional relationship compromised.

1844 May

News of Reid's resignation as assistant surgeon, Norfolk Island, received in Sydney (HRA).

1844 September 18

After arriving in Valparaíso, he phonetically altered the spelling of his surname, and identified himself as Dr. Aquinas Ried. His first professional engagement was the performance of a mass composed by him at the Iglesia Matriz, Valparaíso ("la misa de gracias compuesta pro D. Aquinas Ried") (Lira 1969).

1846 January 21

Mary Reid and Catherine and Henry Bower sail from Sydney on the Jane Goudie for London.

1846 November

The lyric company of the Teatro de la Victoria, Valpariaso, produces the opera Teléfora.

? 1846

In Valparaíso, James Aquinas Ried marries Catalina Canciani (b. Genoa, 1826; arrived Chile 1834), daughter of an Italian merchant, Antonio Canciani, and sister-in-law of Fernando Flindt.

? 1846

? Hermann Ried Canciani born; played violin as a child (Parker de Bassi 2001)

1850 September 11

Gustavo Ried Canciani (died 4 June 1927) born in Valparaíso, Chile.

1851 June 4

Ried is one of the founders of the Cuerpo de Bomberos, Valparaíso.

1856, April 28:

Arnoldo Ried Canciani (died 1928) born in Valparaíso, Chile.

1866 March 31

In the Spanish bombardment of Valparaíso, Aquinas Reid lost his house, together with his library and musical, medical and literary manuscripts, valued at the time at $54,000 (Fonck 1927, Lira 1969).

1869 May 17

Death of James Aquinas Ried died in Valparaíso (Lira 1969).


Hermann Ried Silva (JAR's grandson) born (died 1950), musician (Ried 1956)


Records of the Scots monastery, Regensburg, 1817-29, Records Scots Colleges 1906, 255

Anno 1817. 1ma Novembris sub conductu Rvdi. P. Galli ex Scotia ad nos venerunt: . . . 99. James Reid, natus anno 1809, 7 Septembr. (A 1829 in patriam reversus est.)

ASSOCIATIONS: Scots College, Regensburg


[Advertisement], Aberdeen Press and Journal (13 February 1833), 3

ORATORIO. In compliance with the anxious solicitations of many of their Frienids, the Ladies and Gentlemen of the CHOIR of ST. PETER'S CHAPEL have kindly consented to give their assistance at a GRAND ORATORIO, Which is to to take place in that Chapel on Monday next the 18th inst. MR. REID will preside at the Organ, and several Professional Gentlemen of the Town have kindly offered their Support as Instrumental Performers . . .

ASSOCIATIONS: St. Peter's Chapel, Aberdeen


James Reid, letter, 28 March 1835, from his then residence 20, Castle-street, Aberdeen (SCA/ BL/6/119/1; BL/6/178/4); Noden 2010

Reid referred to the musical compositions of his "late lamented uncle" (Charles Fraser); he hoped to get them published and make some money thereby: "Since I have had the labour [of preparing them for publication] I would wish to have some of the profit".


James Reid, letter, ? mid 1835, SCA/?; Noden 2010

Reid was moving to Glasgow to take up an organist's post, and also find medical employment there: "I am fully aware the blow that my moving from Aberdeen choir will inflict on the music".


"Glasgow. Royal Infirmary", The Scotsman (13 May 1837), 2

The intolerance of the dominant Church has been exhibited among us within these few days. The great increase of fever in Glasgow, had induced the Directors of the Infirmary to call for extraordinary support to that excellent Hospital; and the Roman Catholics, grateful for the benefits it has conferred upon many of their persuasion, offered the use of their handsome chapel, excellent organ, band, and choristers, for an Oratorio for its benefit, in addition to a collection at the chapel door, as at other churches - not, as a contemporary yesterday stated, in place of such collection. The Committee of Directors gladly availed themselves ofl the opportunity of drawing something for the hospital and the Oratorio was advertised, under the patronage of the Provost and Directors of the Infirmary, to take place in the chapel on Tuesday next. The Established clergy of Glasgow, however, could not look upon this good work with favour. A meeting of Presbytery was held, at which the conduct of the Infirmary Directors was denounced; and the Directors were assembled on Monday last, to reconsider the propriety of countenancing an Oratorio in a Popish Chapel. Eighteen attended. Two humble individuals believed themselves to be incapable of deciding upon so grave a subject; and the remainder divided - seven for withdrawing all countenance, and nine for the previous question. - Glasgow Argus.

NOTE: Though this article does not mention Reid by name, it seems likely that, as both a surgeon and musician, he was involved in the proposed oratorio, perhaps even the instigator of it, and was accordingly disheartened by the dispute over it.


James Reid, letters, 1838,(BL/6/217/12); Noden 2010

In Glasgow, Reid found that Protestants would not employ a Catholic doctor: "In Glasgow I have laboured a good deal, both in the medical profession and as director of the Choir . . . I succeeded in raising a splendid orchestra and in giving four Oratorios." He then announced that he planned to emigrate to Australia, where he hoped to set up a "musical warehouse and Academy" in New South Wales.

Elizabeth Reid, letter, to John Reid, 1 August 1838; BL/6/217/8; Noden 2010

James and the girls are not away yet.


"SHIPPING . . . PASSENGERS TO INDIA", The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Miscellany (January 1839), 77 

Per Augustus Caesar, for N.S. Wales: Mrs. Gravenor and child; Mrs. George, three ladies, and two children; Mr. and Mrs. Allport and six children: Dr. Reid, surgeon; Mr.and Mrs. Logie; Mr. and Mrs. Hill; two Misses Reid; Messrs. Godwin, Earle, Williamson, Niblock, Smith, Pettel and two sons, and C. Forbes.


Sydney, NSW (April 1839 to January 1840)

"Shipping Intelligence", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (2 April 1839), 2 

From London, same day [1 April], whence she sailed the 17th November, the ship Augustus Caesar, 41 1/2 tons, Captain Lacey, with merchandise. Passengers, cabin - Mr. and Mrs. Allport and six children, Messrs Thomas Niblook, George Goodwin, Thos. Earl, William Bower, Thomas Williamson, Jacob Goode, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Logie and two children, Mr. and Mrs. Still, Mrs. Grosvenor and child, Mrs. George and family, Misses Mary and Catherine Reid; also 20 steerage passengers Agent, Captain Lacey.

"ARRIVALS", The Sydney Monitor (3 April 1839), 2 

"ARRIVALS", The Colonist (3 April 1839), 2 

"ARRIVALS", The Sydney Herald (3 April 1839), 2 


Bridge Street, Sydney, with the corner of George Street at right; Fowles's Sydney in 1848

The residential end of Bridge Street, Sydney, with the corner of George Street at right, and the bridge colonnade and Tank Stream at left; from Joseph Fowles's Sydney in 1848

[Advertisement], The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (24 April 1839), 3 

DR. J. A. REID, Member of the Royal Bavarian Academy of Music, INTENDING to establish himself as PROFESSOR of MUSIC in all its Branches, solicits the Patronage of the Gentry of the Colony. Lessons given in Thorough-bass, Singing, and on the Organ, Pianoforte, Seraphine, Violin, Flute, and Brass Instruments. Families attended at their own residences. For terms, apply to Dr. REID, 15, Bridge-street.

John Skinner Prout, Interior of St. Mary's Cathedral Sydney, c.1841-44; State Library of New South Wales

John Skinner Prout, Interior of St. Mary's Cathedral Sydney, c.1841-44; State Library of New South Wales (DIGITISED)


5 May 1839, St. Mary's Catherdal, Hyde Park, Sydney

[Advertisement], The Australian (2 May 1839), 1 

Benevolent Asylum Charity Sermon ON SUNDAY, (May 5th), a SERMON will be Preached in Saint Mary's Cathedral, by the Reverend Francis Murphy. A Collection will be made in aid of the Funds of the above Institution. The Choir will be augmented for the occasion, under the superintendence of Dr. Reid, Organist and Musical Composer to the Cathedral. Service to commence precisely at Eleven o'clock.

"Charity Sermon", The Australian (4 May 1839), 2 

The cause of that excellent charitable Institution, the Benevolent Asylum, will be advocated To-morrow (Sunday), in St. Mary's Cathedral, by the Rev. Mr Murphy. The distinguished eloquence of the Rev. Preacher, and the accession of the talents of Dr. Reid, lately arrived, in conducting and superintending the department of sacred music on this occasion, will, we trust, prove highly efficacious and available for the interests of the charity in whose behalf such services are enlisted.

ASSOCIATIONS: Francis Murphy


John Bede Polding, letter to Thomas Paulinus Heptonstall (20 May 1839); ed. in Henry Norbert Birt, Benedictine pioneers in Australia (London: Herbert & Daniel, 1911), volume 1, (Birt's commentary from 409) 410-11 

. . . And now I suppose I may pass to Dr. Reid. He is installed Director and Musical Composer to the Cathedral, with a stipend of £50 per ann., one half of which is paid in advance, as he stood in need of it at his first starting. He has the choir entirely under his control, has practice three times a week, has practice three times each week. I have formed the Choral Society of the Cathedral of St. Mary, and drawn up regulations; it has already within its sphere upwards of fifty respectable individuals, who will be taught music scientifically, and who engage to serve the Choir in return three years, or as long as they remain in Sydney. A degree of enthusiasm prevails amongst them which ensures success. Many others wish to join, but the above is thought to be a number sufficiently large to be manageable. By the time the organ is out, it is expected that all of the members will be so far advanced as to be useful. Our chief difficulty has been to amalgamate the former Choir with the present. There does exist a degree of jealousy on the part of the former, who are chiefly what are called professional, which will lead, I dare say, to their secession. This cannot be helped. We never could have them behave properly in the Choir, and their example would be most pernicious to the new Choir, so that the loss of their voices - and some of them are magnificent - is counterbalanced by a great good. Spencer indulged them in the first instance; and here I cannot but lament that the opportunity of establishing the Downside psalmody, so dear to me, is lost. I must now have chants from Ireland which I detest, from Scotland, - modifications of that Gregorian chant which I loved so much in dear Downside. As Dr. Reid composes very prettily, I will see if I cannot have the style of that chant restored . . .

We have an organ in the Church, one Ellard, late of Dublin, brought out on speculation. It formerly belonged to Gardiner Street [St. Francis Xavier], Dublin, and was sold when they purchased Green's from the Westminster Festival. It is a weak, vacant, ill-toned instrument, for which the speculator has the modesty to ask 500 guineas. If he obtain one half, he will have double its real value. We have had it for one half year paying £20 for it; the party lending being at the [411] expense of placing and removing . . . [The new organ] will be a great ornament to the Church, and serve the object I have most at heart - after the propagation of religion, the diffusion of sound taste and a love of the fine arts . . . I have great hopes of raising money by an oratorio or two. This is, however, uncertain, the tide of bigotry is so high at present that it is possible many families would not defile the foot by entering the popish temple. I think, however, curiosity to hear the monster will prevail. It must be an organ of astounding power . . . The Builders are the very persons I wish to be employed, but I could not recollect their names. They produced the Redditch organ, which I admired greatly . . .

ASSOCIATIONS: John Bede Polding (Catholic bishop at Sydney); John Spencer (former choir master); Andrew Ellard (music and instrument seller, recently arrived in Sydney from Dublin, with imported stock, the residue of which Reid would later arrange to be purhcased for use on Norfolk Island)


Jane Franklin, journal, Sunday, 9 June 1839; Russell 2002, The errant lady, 149 (PREVIEW)

Sophy & one gent went to Catholic church to hear Dr. Polding & singing - did not hear Burhill [Bushell] nor Dr. Polding who was there however - prayers in English & sermon . . . Sophy, who had never seen service before, was amused & shocked.

ASSOCIATIONS: Jane Franklin (wife of John Franklin, lieutenant-governor of Van Diemen's Land); Sophia Cracroft; John Bushell (convict, bass&vocalist, and assistant choral master)


Old Court House, Castlereagh Street (Elizabeth Street frontage), Sydney in 1848

Old Court House, Castlereagh Street (Elizabeth Street frontage), in Sydney in 1848: illustrated by copper-plate engravings of its principal streets, public buildings, churches, chapels, etc. from drawings by Joseph Fowles (Sydney: printed by D. Wall, and published by J. Fowles, [1848]); State Library of New South Wales, digitised (DIGITISED)

21 August 1839, concert (benefit for the Association for the Relief of the Poor), Old Court House, Castle-reagh Street, Sydney

"Concert for the benefit of the Poor", Australasian Chronicle (13 August 1839), 1s 

We have great pleasure in calling the attention of our Readers to Dr. Reid's advertisement in our present number. The object of the Concert would be itself a sufficient argument to induce an attendance; but when Dr. Reid's first-rate talents, both as a composer and director of Concerts, which are not unknown in any part of Europe, are taken into consideration, we feel confident the old Court House will not be too large for the audience. We hope Dr. Reid will be induced to bring forward some of his own compositions on this occasion. There are some beautiful movements in his Oratorio of Paradise Lost, which we think would surprise the ears of the sons of Australia.

[Advertisement], Australasian Chronicle (13 August 1839), 4

Concert. J A. REID, Member of the Royal Bavarian Academy of Music, has the honor to inform the Gentry and the Public of Sydney and its Vicinity, that he intends giving a Concert in the Old Court House, Castlereagh-street, on Wednesday, the 21st August - the proceeds to be applied to the Relief of the Distressed Poor. Particulars in future Advertisements.

"Local Intelligence", Australasian Chronicle (16 August 1839), 1 

. . . We observe that Mr. Deane and his family are to perform at Dr. Reid's concert next week.

ASSOCIATIONS: John Philip Deane (violinist) and his sons John (violinist) and Edward (cellist)

[Advertisement], Australasian Chronicle (16 August 1839), 4s

CONCERT, For the Benefit of the Distressed Poor.
DR. REID RESPECTFULLY informs the Public, that he will give a CONCERT of Vocal and Instrumental Music, in the Old Court-House, Castlereagh-street, on Wednesday, 21st August, the proceeds to be handed over to the Committee of the Association for the Relief of the Poor.



1. Overture to Zriny - Reid.
2. Terzetto - The village curfew tolls afar - Miss Reid, Miss M. Reid, and Dr. Reid - Eisenhofer.
3. Solo on the Harp - Mrs. Curtis - Labarre.
4. Recitative and Air - Fortune's frowns - Mrs. Bushell - Rossini.
5. Fantasia on the Flute - Dr. Reid - Berbiguier.
6. Cavatina - So all' impero - Miss M. Reid - Mozart.
7. Song - The Wolf - Mr. Bushel - Shield.
8. Chorus of Warriors - Away, away, the sword is drawn - C. M. v. Weber.


1. Symphony - No. 12 - Haydn.
2. Duetto - Se vedete una ragazza -Miss Reid and Miss M. Reid - Cimarosa.
3. Solo - Violin - Mr. Peck - Mayseder.
4. Duetto Buffo - Pa-pa-pa - Mr. and Mrs. Bushell - Mozart.
5. La Parisienne, with variations - Miss M. Reid - Herz.
6. Song - The Warrior's Farewell and Battle Song - Dr. Reid - C. M. v. Weber.
7. Scena and Aria - O, thou sweet star of love on high' - Miss M. Reid - Reid.
8. Chorus and Solo - Spring is come and the wars are all over - Mr. Bushell - Reid.

Mr. Deane and family, Mr. Curtis and several, other gentlemen have kindly offered their services in the Orchestra.

Tickets 7s. 6d. each, to be had at Mr. Ellard's, .George-street; Mr. Curtis's, Hunter-street; Mr. Moffit's, Pitt-street; Mr. Ellard's, Senr., Pitt-street; Mr. Tegg's, George-street; and Dr. Reid's, 15, Bridge street. Mr. Wallis, builder, has liberally offered the use of material and labour for fitting up the Orchestra. Doors open at 7 - Performance to commence at 8 o'clock precisely.

[Advertisement], The Sydney Herald (21 August 1839), 1


"CONCERT IN AID OF THE POOR, AT THE COURT HOUSE", Commercial Journal and Advertiser (21 August 1839), 2 

Dr. Reid has issued forth a very promising "Bill of Fare." Report speaks highly of Dr. Reid and his family's musical talent, who appear on this occasion. We are also to have the pleasure of hearing our celebrated Amateur and Mrs. Bushel in several favourite songs, both English and Italian, beside many other novelties. It being for the benefit of the poor, we hope to see a full room on the occasion.

[W. A. DUNCAN], "Concert", Australasian Chronicle (23 August 1839), 1s

Dr. Reid's Concert took place according to announcement on Wednesday, on which occasion a most numerous and brilliant assemblage was present. We may look upon this concert as the first introduction into this colony of that style of orchestral accompaniment generally known under the designation of the German School. Orchestral music, in its present acceptation, is comparatively of modern invention. Before the end of last century, a harpsichord, or at most a first and second violin, a tenor and a bass, moving in simple harmony, were all that the greatest composers could avail themselves of, to give effect to their conceptions. The introduction of wind instruments playing distinct parts, and thus enriching the harmony by producing innumerable new and beautiful effects, we owe to Haydn. This wonderful genius pursued his researches into the regions of harmony, to an extent alike unknown to his predecessors and contemporaries, until towards the close of his career, he himself was outstripped by Mozart; who united the melody of the Italian school to the rich harmony of the German; and left a name, which, in all probability, it will defy the powers, both of time and nature, to equal.

This style of instrumentation, though at first like every improvement, violently opposed, is now obtaining ground wherever talent and good taste are found united; and if the severe simplicity of the old classical music gave way to its power, the miserable opposition which it now meets with from those musicians who are carried away by the fantastic vagaries of Rossini and his imitators, will soon yield up its passing influence to the claims of sound taste and enlightened criticism.

The performance, considering the short time for preparation, was highly creditable to Dr. Reid, and to the performers generally. The Overture to Zriny, which we heard for the first time, is a piece of excellent music, and seemed to to be a general favourite with the audience. Mrs. Curtis's Solo was well performed. Her instrument is a little repaired since we heard it last. We sincerely wish, both for her sake and our own, that she would burn it. There are surely a good harp or two in the colony, and any lady would be proud to lend her instrument to such a performer as Mrs. Curtis. Fortune frowns. Mrs. Bushell is a very powerful singer, and we could listen to her for ever and a day; but if she expects any mercy at our hands, we advise her strongly to discard nineteen twentieths of her embellishments, and to keep her eye upon the bars; and then if Rossini won't do, why, just put Rossini on the shelf, and take down Mozart. Se all'impero. One of the finest airs in the divine Tito, and sung by Miss M. Reid with a propriety of taste, which would have delighted the good little Gottlieb himself, had he been present. We have no hesitation in saying, that this was the finest performance of the evening. The Wolf. What would we not give for Mr. Bushell's voice? This piece was deservedly encored. Chorus of Warriors. Good. Symphony. Ditto. Se vedete. Sung in fine style by Miss Reid and Miss M. Reid. Violin Solo. Mr. Peck is really a clever performer.

We pass over the others to come to the last Solo and Grand Chorus, which we believe are from a new opera by Dr. Reid. These pieces are of such a character, both as to their merit and the manner in which they were performed, as would have fully atoned for all the rest had they been deficient, but were a most pleasing termination to a performance in which, throughout, there was much to praise and little to blame. After all, as we have said, we chiefly value it as the introduction of a peculiar style of music among us, which we are in hopes to see widely cultivated.

"DR. REID'S CONCERT", The Sydney Monitor (23 August 1839), 2

We are happy to say, that this Concert was well attended. The room in Castlereagh-street was so crowded, that the avenues between the seats were filled with male standers, who by the bye, obstructed the sight from the male and female occupiers of those seats which were behind them; and which standing was as unjust as it was uncourteous, and we do consider it a sort of fraud on the sitters behind, that any persons (except they be ladies), should be allowed to stand in the avenues. If they must be there, let forms be provided, with a nuarrow passage for persons to pass. There were two six-branch chandelier lamps pendant from the ceiling; one over the orchestra, and one was pendant in front towards, but not reaching to the middle of the room. The oil being bad, and no lamplighters in constant attendance, the one towards the middle of the room threw no light on the visages of the singers who came to the front; while the splendid lamp, pendant over the orchestra (but which was behind the singers when they advanced to the front), threw their faces into the shade; so strongly, that their features could not be distinguished. They might as well have worn masks, except during such short gleams of light, as the lamp pendant in their front, threw on their faces, when revivified for a minute or two now and then by some gallants near it, who naturally wished to ascertain what sex the figures in front of the ochestra were of; and whether plain or handsome, young or old. This circumstance, so offensive to the gallantry of the audience, coupled with the crowded avenues by male standers between 5 1/2 and 6 1/2 feet high (without their hats), was a great drawback on the comfort of this concert. Nevertheless, as acknowledge it was got up with liberality, and bore evidence of an intention to do the audience justice, as well as the object for whose benefit Dr. Reid gave the concert. But the room was opposed to all good intentions. The Governor arrived, as a private gentleman, a little after the concert commenced. Tickets of occupation had been laid on the chairs which occupied the first three or four rows of seats in the front of the Orchestra, but no servants (and we should question their right of occupying if they had been present) were in attendance to maintain possession. The first row, and even the second, John Bull would, out of his instinctive loyalty, have allowed to be kept for the Governor, the Judges, and the Bishop, and other families; but "the force of loyalty, would no further go." John Bull is an indescribable fellow; foreigners cannot understand him; and no wonder, for he hardly understands himself. But all men may understand this of John; to wit: that with an instinctive obedience to the Queen, and those just near her Majesty's person, he delights in treating with a rude and blustering contempt the second best. John will bend to the ground to the Queen, and the Judges, and the Bishop; but after that, he becomes rather churlish. Bull is a monarchial democratical churl. He delights in the vulgar aristocracy of the purse. "My money's as good as yours!" is his reply to all who come after the Queen, the Judges, and the Bishop; nothing gives John a greater occasion to chuckle, than to perch himself, his wife, and his daughters, just hehind the Queen, the Judges, and the Bishop. All the rest of "Her Majesty's Govennment" he holds as "leather and prunella." Therefore we approve, as being highly prudential with regarid to Bull's vulgar but unconquerable prejudices, the leaving no chairs to he occupied by tickets, but leaving empty space for a season before the orchestra, and bringing the said chairs (as Dr. Reid's managers did) to the front of the Orchestra, when Bull and his large family have got comfortably seated on all the forms.

"DR. REID'S CONCERT", Commercial Journal and Advertiser (24 August 1839), 2 

This concert, which was held on Wednesday evening last, in the Old Court-house, for the benefit of the poor, it gives us pleasure to state, was well attended. But that is all we can say, for, with the exception of one or two performances, the concert went off but indifferently. His Excellency the Governor was present on the occasion, but he went in a strictly private manner, not having signified publicly that it was his intention to be one of the assembly. The slight shown him by the visitors must have been very galling to his feelings, for there was little or no snow of respect, much less of homage; for the very seats that had been set apart in the front for himself and family, were occupied by such as think so little of royalty, or its representative, as to think it quite unnecessary to doff their hats or to stand up in the presence of such exalted personages. The Governor is decidedly unpopular, and is now only tolerated until a change can be effected.

We have heard it is the intention of Mrs. Bushell to give a concert at the Victoria theatre, in a few days. It is understood she will be assisted by all the vocal and instrumental talent in Sydney.

"DR. REID'S CONCERT", The Colonist (28 August 1839), 4

Contrary to anticipation, the weather was fine, and the Old School room was crowded. His Excellency Sir George Gipps and Lady Gipps, the Colonial Secretary and Lady, the Attorney-General, and a large party of ladies and gentlemen, Sir John Jamison, and a number of other distinguished members of our community, were present. The concert commenced with an overture composed by Dr. Reid, which was received with great applause. Dr. Reid, as leader, exerted himself to the utmost, and was well supported by the other performers. Miss Reid and Miss M. Reid were deservedly well received throughout the evening. We think the accompaniment was too powerful for them, and that the latter had too much to do for one evening. A portion of the audience were un reasonable in encoring her; and we trust that she felt the opposite demonstration as it was meant, namely, that although she was heard with considerable gratification, it was wished not to fatigue her unnecessarily.

Mrs. Bushelle was warmly greeted on her appearance, and, as usual, highly delighted the audience. Mrs. Curtis' performance on the harp was more successful than when we last heard her, but we must still complain of the instrument. Mr. Reid's fantasia on the flute, accompanied by Miss M. Reid on the piano, gave great satisfaction. Mr. Bushelle was received with the usual applause. Mr. Peck's solo on the violin was well executed. We think he was very badly treated by a portion of the band, notwithstanding his repeated admonitions. The audience, however, were fully aware that the fault was not his, and by their timely applause, made him aware of their sentiments. There appeared to be something malicious in the affair; we hope we are mistaken.

Altogether, the evening's amusement was a treat. Dr. Reid has a very powerful voice, and his perfect knowledge of music enables him to make the most of it. His solo we preferred much to The Wolf, but some portion of the audience did not; and from remarks which we overheard, it would appear that some parties go to the Concerts to hiss or applaud, as the whim takes them, no matter what the performance. Such young gentleminer had better stop away. The rooms will fill without them, and they are an annoyance to those who go to hear and enjoy the music. We trust the reception which Dr. Reid and his sisters met with on Wednesday evening is an omen of future success, which is already enjoyed by some of those who assisted on the occasion.

ASSOCIATIONS: William Augustine Duncan (editor of Australasian Chronicle, memeber of St' Mary's choir); Eliza Wallace Bushelle (soprano vocalist); George Peck (violinist); Mrs. Richard Curtis (harpist); George Gipps (governor of New South Wales); Edward Deas Thomson (colonial secretary of New South Wales) and Anna Maria Deas Thomson; John Jamison

Diary of Alexander Brodie Spark, 27 August and 16 November 1839; ed. in Graham Abbott and Geoffrey Little, The respectable Sydney merchant, A. B. Spark of Tempe (Sydney: Sydney University press, 1976), 110, 112 

27th . . . Went to Dr. Reid's to approve of a Seraphin for our new Church.

16th Went with the Rev. Mr. Steele . . . to select a Seraphin for the Church at Dr. Reid's, and afterwards to Dick's to pruchase a Communion Service. 18th Ever engaged in preparing for the Consecration . . .

NOTE: The consecration of St. Peter's church, Cook's River-Tempe, took place on 20 November 1839; see "CONSECRATION OF ST. PETER'S CHURCH", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (23 November 1839), 2 


"Concert", Australasian Chronicle (13 September 1839), 1 

. . . We were much pleased with Mrs. Bushelle's singing generally, it was a decided improvement on her performance at Dr. Reid's concert . . .

"LOCAL NEWS", The Australian (19 September 1839), 2 

We have been requested to enquire what has become of the proceeds of Dr. Reid's concert, which has not yet been carried to the poor relief fund, for which express purpose it professed to have been given.

"DR. REID", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (21 September 1839), 2 

We have seen in the Australian of Tuesday a paragraph asking what has become of the proceeds of the concert, given by Dr. Reid with the avowed object of benefitting the poor? We have not yet seen Dr. Reid's reply, but will wait for it till our next: the public have a right to know all the particulars relative to this business.


[News], The Australian (3 October 1839), 2 

We are rather surprised that the committee have not yet acknowledged the receipt of the proceedings of the concert given by Dr. Reid in aid of the Funds for the Relief of the Poor.


[Advertisement], The Sydney Herald (2 October 1839), 2

GRAND CONCERT. UNDER DISTINGUISHED PATRONAGE. MR. PECK BEGS TO INFORM HIS FRIENDS AND THE PUBLIC, THAT HE WILL GIVE A GRAND MISCELLANEOUS CONCERT OF VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC, AT THE ROYAL VICTORIA TIIEATRE, PITT-STREET, On WEDNESDAY Evening, Next, October 2nd, WHEN he will be assisted by the entire musical talent of Sydney, being his FARE-WELL BENEFIT CONCERT prior to his departure for England . . . Leader, Monsieur Gautrot; Conductor, Dr. Reid; Violin Obligato, Mr. Peck; Flute Obligato, Mr. S. W. Wallace; Harp, Mrs. Curtis; Pianoforte, Miss FERNANDEZ . . .

"Mr. Peck's Concert", Australasian Chronicle (4 October 1839), 1

Amongst the passing events of the day, Concerts now form a prominent feature, and we could wish that they might long continue to do so if well conducted and got up with a view towards the advancement of the science. Music, although not a recognised agent in political economy, has always exerted a powerful influence over the progressive civilization of a people, and it is therefore of paramount consequence that in a young country the taste of the inhabitants receive a good direction in the beginning. We are sorry to say that the tendency of some of the late concerts has not been favourable to the cultivation of a sound musical taste. To begin our criticism with the overture Mr. Peek has proved himself a musician of decided talent, and still he selects two such overtures as the "Two Blind Men," and the "Maniac," the first (at least as performed at this concert) being a very poor oboe solo, with as poor orchestral accompaniments; the second, one of Bishop's most miserable compilations. Surely, with the wide range of modern concerted music, two more unmeaning pieces could not have been selected to bring out the power of so numerous an orchestra. We beg leave to remind the leader or leaders, that any orchestra ought to move as one mass of sound, and not drag its unwieldy, disjointed limbs in such a straddling manner as was the case on this occasion. Of the individual performances, we have the less to say . . . Of Mr. Peck, individually, we have already spoken on a former occasion; good musicians are scarce; and we are sorry that he is leaving us, but wish him every success wherever he may go - there is only a slight discrepancy between his mathematics and ours, as we could never count more than some forty odd performers, instead of the seventy as announced. [The digitised copy, from the NSW Colonial Secretary's archive, has a pen annotation / attribution ? in Duncan's hand: "Dr Reid"].

"Mr. PECK'S CONCERT", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (8 October 1839), 2 

. . . In order to account in some degree tor the limited attendance on this occasion, it may be mentioned that Concerts are at a sub of discount, never at any previous time have so many Concerts taken place during so short a period. We have had Benefit Concerts and Charity Concerts, Soirees, &c, those of Dr. Reid; but of which, perhaps, the less that is said the better, those of Mons. Gautrot and Madame Gautrot, of Miss Fernandez, Mr. and Mrs. Bushelle, Mr. Deane, and the Soirees of the latter.


"News of the Day", The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (18 October 1839), 2 

Dr. Reid has handed over to the Poor Fund, the sum of £50, the proceeds of his Concert, for the benefit of the Poor.

[News], The Australian (19 October 1839), 2 

Dr. Reid. - This gentleman has, at last, handed over the sum of £50 to the Poor Fund, as the proceeds of his Concert given at the Court House, Castlereagh-street, for that purpose.


27 October 1839, Sunday high mass, St. Mary's Cathedral, Hyde Park, Sydney

[News], Australasian Chronicle (29 October 1839), 1s

ON Sunday, a solemn Mass was celebrated in the Cathedral in thanksgiving for the safe arrival of the French missionaries who are about to proceed to New Zealand. The altar was neatly fitted up, and the grand and impressive ceremonies of the Pontifical were gone through with much dignity and effect. After the Gospel, the Vicar General delivered an eloquent discourse, suitable to the occasion, of which we regret much we cannot give an outline.

The new choir and orchestra of the Cathedral performed publicly for the first time on this occasion, and we have pleasure in adding in a style which surprised and delighted every body. The Mass was Reid's No. 1 in C, which is, upon the whole, a charming composition. The Kyrie, which, like Mozart's No. 12, is written upon the dominant of the key, is a beautiful piece of genuine church music, in which every part is a melody, and the combined effect of which is truly fine. The Gloria is chiefly remarkable for its combining brilliancy with a full body of harmony. But the Credo is our especial favourite. Its opening and concluding movements contain some of the finest natural modulation with which we are acquainted, and the melody is throughout most pleasing. We venture to predict that the succession of sounds of which this piece consists, will be speedily heard resounding in all parts of our capital, as the Jager Chor of Weber was formerly in every part of Europe.

The Benedictus, as sung by the Misses Reid, accompanied by the Seraphine and Violoncello produced a very fine effect. The subject of the Agnus Dei is the same as that of the Kyrie, and forms the conclusion of a musical composition, of which any composer might be proud. To criticise severely a first performance would be unfair, but severity itself would here be compelled to admit, that if there was evidence of its being a first attempt, there was, on the other hand, realized all the success that could be looked for.

At the conclusion of Mass, the clergy, including the missionaries, chaunted the Te Deum, which carried the mind back to other days, and must have warmed every heart present. We hope to see these solemnities often renewed. They have the best tendency, and admirably confirm the truth of Dr. Johnson's remark, that whatever carries our minds into the past, the distant, or the future, advances us in the scale of rational beings.


[Advertisement], The Sydney Herald (4 December 1839), 3 

DRAWING. - A Young Gentleman, a pupil of Landseer, gives Lessons in Drawing in crayons and the lead pencil; also, Painting in oil and water colors. For terms, apply to Dr. Reid, Castlereagh-street South, near Liverpool-street.

[Advertisement], The Sydney Herald (6 December 1839), 3 

EDUCATION. - A young Gentleman, who has received a Classical Education, and was several years resident in France, is desirous of forming classes and giving private lessons in the French, Latin, and Greek Languages. For terms, apply to Dr. Reid, Castlereagh-street South, near Liverpool-street.

[Advertisement], The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (11 December 1839), 3 

PUPIL OF LANDSEER gives lessons in Painting, in Oil and Water Colours, and in Drawing in Crayons, and the Lead Pencil. For terms, apply to MR. W. J. H. BOWER, at Dr. Reid's, Castlereagh-street, corner of Liverpool street.

ASSOCIATIONS: William Bower, who woold married Catherine Reid on 15 February 1840; see also biographical note below


[Advertisement], The Sydney Herald (13 December 1839), 1 

FOR SALE - An Elegant HARP, by Stumpff. Apply to J. Aq. Reid, D.M., Castlereagh-street South.

NOTE: Johann Andreas Stumpff (1769-1846), earlier a friend of Beethoven, was from 1790 a London-based harp and piano maker.


"MARRIED", The Sydney Herald (17 February 1840), 2 

On Saturday, 15th instant by Special License, at St. Mary's, by the Rev. F. Murphy. Wm. J. Howard Bower, Esq., to Miss Catherine Ann Reid.


[Advertisement], The Sydney Herald (13 January 1840), 2 

A. ELLARD, in retiring from his Business of Music Seller, carried on during the last year in Sydney, returns his sincere thanks to the Gentry and Public of New South Wales, for the very liberal support he has received during his short stay amongst them, and confidently hopes for a continuance of it in favor of his successors, DOCTOR REID, and his Partners, to whom he has this day disposed of his Stock and Establishment, Pitt-street, where the Business will be carried on in future, on the same liberal terms as heretofore . . . he will embark for England early in February next. Music Saloon, 1 Pitt-street, next the Theatre, January 9, 1840.


[Advertisement], The Sydney Herald (15 January 1840), 3 

TO THE GENTRY AND PUBLIC OF NEW SOUTH WALES. - REID, SMITH, and M'CROHAN, Music Sellers and Publishers, beg leave to announce to the Gentry and Public of New South Wales, that they have purchased the whole Stock-in-Trade, including Musical Instruments of every description, and the Catalogue of Music, unequalled in the Colony for variety and extent, lately the property of Mr. A. Ellard, Music Seller, 27, Pitt-street, next the Victoria Theatre, who retires to Europe, and surrenders his business to them.

In commencing this undertaking, they feel themselves called upon to inform the inhabitants of the Colony, that they have entered into the most extensive and systematic arrangements in different parts of Europe, as well as in the Colony, in older to merit a share of that patronage, which their predecessor has to amply experienced during his short residence in Sydney.

The lending features of their arrangements are the following: - A constant supply of all the Novelties of the British and Foreign Musical World, kept up through agents in London, Paris, and Vienna; A choice selection of Pianofortes, Seraphines, and other Musical Instruments, from all the leading London Makers; Repairs, Tuning, &c, will be executed by competent workmen, under the superintendence of one of the Firm, who will periodically visit all parts of the Colony for the purpose of Tuning, Repairing, and Regulating Pianofortes and Seraphines, and attending to other orders they may be favoured with.

Preparations are being made for establishing a Branch for the publication of Standard und Original Music. All additions to the Stock and ail Novelties from Europe will be duly announced. By following out the above plan, and by adhering strictly to a straightforward method of doing business, Reid, Smith, and McCrohan flatter themselves that the Gentry and Public of the Colony will award them a share of their patronage. This, at least, they venture to affirm, that on their part nothing shall be wanting in attention, perseverance, and moderate charges, to entitle them to a share of such public patronage. Music Saloon, 27, Pitt-street, next Victoria Theatre. January 10, 1840.

ASSOCIATIONS: Jeremiah McCrohan (business partner); George Smith (business partner)

"Music", Australasian Chronicle (17 January 1840), 3 

We have much pleasure in drawing the attention of our Readers to the advertisement (in our first page) of Messrs. Reid, Smith, and M'Crohan. The first named Gentleman, Dr. Reid, we had the pleasure to of being intimate with in 'Merry Scotland'. That acquaintance has been happily renewed in what we hope will soon be called Merry Australia. Laying claim to some judgment in musical matters, we have no hesitation in asserting that as a COMPOSER and Teacher, he has no equal in these Colonies. His indefatigable exertions, and attention to his pupils, are well known to those who have availed themselves of his talents. - We therefore hesitate not to recommend this new establishment to our musical readers.

"MUSIC", The Colonist (18 January 1840), 2 

We perceive that Dr. Reid has succeeded to the business of Mr. Ellard, of Pitt-street. From the known talents of that gentleman and his sisters, we have no doubt of their success.


"DELATANTI SOCIETY" [sic], The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (23 January 1840), 2 

AS we were passing the shop of Messrs. Reid, Smith, & M'Crohan (late Mr. A. Ellard's), on the night of Tuesday last, between the hours of 9 and 10 o'clock, we had the pleasure of hearing several airs played by a very full and efficient orchestra. On enquiry we were informed that it was the rehearsal night of a new musical society called the "Delatanti Society." We heard in particular one set of Mozart's celebrated waltzes played in a style we have never heard surpassed in this colony. Dr. Reid, we are informed, is the leader; we have to congratulate him and the other members of the society on the success they are certain to meet with in the cultivation of this most pleasing accomplishment. We understand that this society is entirely composed of amateurs, no professional person being admitted as a member. We wish them every success. Such societies are the surest indications of the rising prosperity of the arts and sciences in New South Wales.

ASSOCIATIONS: Dilletanti Society


[Advertisement], The Australian (25 January 1840), 3 

NOTICE. "Reid, Smith, & M'Crohan." NOTICE is hereby given, that George Smith has ceased to be a member of the above firm, which will in future be carried on in the name of Reid & M'Crohan. Sydney, Jan. 24th, 1840.

[Advertisement], Australasian Chronicle (28 January 1840), 3 

Dilletanti Society. THE Public are hereby cautioned against giving credit, on account of this Society, to George Smith, late Secretary, he having been expelled by the unanimous vote of a General meeting. By order of the Committee. G. BOULTON, Chairman. Jan 25, 1840.


"CONVICT DISCIPLINE", The Sydney Herald (17 February 1840), 2 

We have heard it stated that Captain Maconochie has applied to the Government to be allowed a band of musicians to accompany him to Norfolk Island to entertain the gentlemen "nutbrowns" there, and also a library to fill up their unoccupied time.

ASSOCIATIONS: Alexander Maconochie (commandant, Norfolk Island Convict Settlement)

Letter, Alexander Maconochie (Sydney) to George Gipps (governor NSW), 19 February 1840, The sessional papers of the House of Lords . . . volume 7 . . . convict discipline, Copies or extracts of any correspondence between the Secretary of State having the Department of the Colonies and the Governor of New South Wales respecting the convict system administered in Norfolk Island under the superintendence of Captain Maconochie, R.N.; also, copies or extracts of any reports on the same subject addressed to the Treasury by the Commissariat serving in Norfolk Island or New South Wales ([London]: [House of Lords] Ordered to be printed, 9 February 1846), 27-28 [henceforth Correspondence Norfolk Island 1846]; also in HRA, 1, 20, 358

. . . An essential portion of the system of management which I am desirous of introducing into Norfolk Island being to make money by whatsoever means, thereby setting the example and instructing in the processes of as many forms of productive labour as possible, I have the honour to report to your Excellency that I have purchased a quantity of modern manuscript music, and blank music paper, the entire stock of Mr. [Andrew] Ellard, musicseller, now leaving the colony for England, and that it is my intention to employ in copying music such old, lame, sick, or other infirm prisoners under my care as can be instructed in it, and such others as may be willing to gain marks of approbation by so employing their hours of rest from more severe labour.

I am assured, and believe, that by an immediate outlay of 46 [pounds], I have thus acquired the means of realizing from 200 [pounds] to 300 [pounds] besides being enabled in part to supply a want much felt in these colonies of modern music for sale, and bestowing on many prisoners a means of profitable sedentary labour, both before and after their discharge, which they often much want, and which in after life may contribute both to sober and elevate their habits, and to maintain them.

I was unable to take your Excellency's instructions before making this purchase, because Mr. Ellard's stock being sold by auction, I was compelled to decide on it at once or lose [28] the opportunity of making it, and my first intention was accordingly to take it on myself without troubling you at present in regard to it; on second thoughts, however, the principle involved in it seems an important one, and I avail myself of the opportunity to bring it generally and officially under your consideration . . .


[Advertisement], The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (21 February 1840), 3 

NOTICE. The undersigned beg leave respectfully to inform the Public that ALL BUSINESS transacted by THEM, at 27, Pitt-street, Sydney, has been done for account of MR. ANDREW ELLARD, whose receipt of ALL MONEY'S due for the goods so disposed of, will be a full discharge. For Reid and M'Crohan, J. A. REID. Sydney, February 19, 1840.


[News], The Australian (22 February 1840), 2 

We understand that a certain Bavarian Musical Doctor is about accompanying Capt. Maconochie to Norfolk Inland, to assist in carrying out his social system in a medical capacity. We call upon Captain Innes to inform us whether the nett proceeds of the concert, got up some time since for the Sydney Relief Association, has yet found its way into the hands of the Treasurer of that Society. - Correspondent

. . . So far back as the days of Orpheus and Amphion, music is said to have worked miracles, to have tamed wild beasts, and made stones to move. Captain Maconochie seems to be of opinion that its magical powers have not ceased in the nineteenth century, but that it is now capable of reforming criminals. Hence a musical doctor of eminence has accompanied Captain M. to Norfolk Island, with a box of appropriate instruments. The prisoners will, we suppose, be made to march, like the Spartans of old, to the sound of Dor[i]an flutes, and the lesson of future reformation will doubt less be most effectual, when it is recommended by the persuasive music of the tuneful reed. - Correspondent.


Letter, George Gipps (governor, NSW) to Lord John Russell (London), 24 February 1840; in HRA, series 1, volume 20 (1839-40) (HRA 1924), 525-26 (DIGITISED)

With reference to my Despatch marked Separate of the 23rd Novr., 1839, I have the honor to report to your Lordship that Captn. Maconochie returned to Sydney on the 27th Jany. last from Van Diemen's Land, and that he sailed yesterday for Norfolk Island, there to enter on his duties as Superintendent. Temporary accommodation for 300 men having been reported ready at Norfolk Island, and the "Nautilus" with Male Convicts from Dublin arriving at Sydney just at the time when Captn. Maconochie was prepared to take his departure, I caused that vessel with her Convicts at once to proceed to Norfolk Island, and Captn. Maconochie and his family to be also accommodated in her. I have further to report to your Lordship that, on the application of Captn. Maconochie, I have made the following new appointments at Norfolk Island;

1. An Assistant Surgeon, there having been before but one Surgeon for the whole Convict Establishment, and the appointment of a second Medical officer having been often asked for, even before any new Establishments were contemplated. The Medical Department of New South Wales not being able to furnish a Medical officer, Mr. James Reid has been appointed to [526] Norfolk Island at the usual pay of 7s. 6d. per diem, on the joint recommendation of Captn. Maconochie and the Inspector General of Hospitals . . .

Letter, George Gipps to Lord John Russel, 25 February 1840; in HRA, series 1, volume 20 (1839-40) (HRA 1924), 527-28, 537

[527] [Letter, George Gipps to Lord John Russel, 25 February 1840] Having, in my Despatch of yesterday No. 27, reported to Transmission your Lordship the departure of Captn. Maconochie to Norfolk Island, I have now the honor to forward Copies of various Papers, which Captn. Maconochie has submitted to me respecting the system of management which is to be adopted there . . .

[528] No. 5. A Memorandum on the expediency of cultivating a taste for Music in the Prisoners. Precisely on the same ground that I authorized an expenditure of £50 for Books, I have sanctioned, on Captn. Maconochie's urgent request, an outlay of £100 for Musical Instruments; and I have further authorised payment to be made for some articles purchased by him to the amount of £43 15s., under circumstances which are stated in a letter to me dated the 19th instant, a Copy of which is appended to the Memorandum . . .

[537] [Enclosure No. 5.] MEMORANDUM on the expediency of cultivating a taste for Music in Prisoners. FEW positions are more readily admitted in conversation than those amongst which maintain the humanizing powers of Music; Yet in England Scarcely any practical results are founded on them. In dealing with Criminals especially, however, I am convinced that this is much to be regretted. Music is an eminently Social occupation. Including performers and listeners, it employs many Individuals together. Its acquisition is difficult, and it therefore cultivates patience and perseverance. High perfection in it, in conjunction with others, can only be obtained by means of strict order and subordination; and it cultivates, therefore, these qualities also. It is of itself elevating and ennobling, and is, besides, combined frequently with high and elevating Poetry and Sentiment. It is Sometimes thought to lead to drinking; but this, where true at all, applies to rude rather than scientific music, the waste not the cultivation of good natural taste and powers. The most Musical people, as the Italians and Germans, are thus sober rather than drunken; and the effects of National and plaintive Music, in keeping up patriotic and other kindly and improving feelings, require only to be adverted to. Lastly, the development of Musical powers, furnishes individuals with a large stock for future amusement and occupation not involving fatigue, but rather cheering and alleviating it; and it would be thus an eminent advantage to those, who have once Shewn Social weakness, and whom it is therefore peculiarly desirable to discharge with minds weaned from former low amusements by a capacity for other higher and less dangerous.

Accordingly I wish much to have the means placed within my reach, whether at Norfolk Island or elsewhere, of acting on these views. I should wish Seraphines at least, if not Organs, allowed for our Churches, with an assortment of the usual Band Instruments. I am quite certain that they would be important accessories. [signed] A. MACONOCHIE.


"SAILED", The Australian (25 February 1840), 2 

Feb. 22. - The barque Nautilus, Alloway, master, for Norfolk Island, with prisoners. Passengers - Captain Maconochie, R.N., lady, and family.


"MUSICAL WORLD", Australasian Chronicle (25 February 1840), 2 

We understand that a proposal is under consideration for uniting the Cecilian and Dilletanti Societies, under the title of the "Philharmonic Society," and under the management of Mr. Legatt, the present able conductor of the Dilletanti.

ASSOCIATIONS: Cecilian Society


[Advertisement], Australasian Chronicle (3 March 1840), 1 

MR. W. J. HOWARD BOWER continues to give Instruction in Painting in Oil and Water Colours. A class of Perspective and Ornamental Drawing on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday Evenings, from 6 to 8. For Terms apply to Mr. W. J. H. Bower, Dixon-street, Darling Harbour, next to Newsham's Factory, or at the Office of this Journal.


"CAPTAIN MACONOCHIE'S REFORMATORY SYSTEM", The Sydney Herald (4 March 1840), 2 

Among the instances of weathercock policy, in reference to the convict system, is the recent appointment of Captain Maconochie, as Superintendent of Norfolk Island. The Captain may be - we say nothing to the contrary - a well-meaning man; but his scheme of reformation is visionary in the extreme, and will turn out to be nothing more than a waste of public money. A specimen of what may be expected is to be found in the fact, that Captain Maconochie requires a band of music and a number of ladies - under the name of washerwomen - for the amusement of the gentlemen under his charge! There really are no means of ascertaining the extent to which absurdity may be carried. A band of music for the amusement of male and female convicts in Norfolk Island! The next thing required will be an Assembly Room; and we shall read among the "fashionable intelligence" of the grace with which Paddy Whack and Kitty Flanagan went through "the mazes of the dance". Be this your reformatory system? Is it for such follies as these that public money is to be expended? . . . But the theorists and mock philanthropists could not let well alone; and we have now arrived at so ridiculous a position, that a band of music is required for the entertainment of [illegible] cooped up in Norfolk Island, and maintained there at the expense of the British public! . . . Now we dare say, that the moral part of the public would desire to be informed as to the proposed relative position of the ladies and gentlemen at Norfolk Island, (for whose amusement a band of music is required) under Captain Maconochie's reformatory system? Is it to be on the Emu Plains' plan?


"NORFOLK ISLAND. FURTHER DETAILS OF THE NEW SYSTEM (14th March 1840)", Australasian Chronicle (15 September 1840), 4 

. . . 15. The superintendent is anxious, in like manner, to encourage schools of all kinds to be opened, for the benefit of the prisoners at their leisure hours, and he will liberally reward in marks proficiency exhibited in any; but on the same principle as is laid down in regard to the use of the tools. The privilege for attending these must be paid for in marks; it is the opportunity of learning that will alone be furnished. Those who desire a harvest in any branch must be content to pay for their seed corn.

16. A library will also shortly be established on the same terms; and the superintendent wishes much to got up a band of music, and to instruct, but also on the same conditions, as many men as desire to add the cheering, enlivening, and frequently useful accomplishment of knowledge of music to their other resources in after life. Men thus qualifying themselves to assist at divine service, or other public or private occasions, while at the settlement, will also earn marks accordingly . . .


[Letter, almost certainly written by Reid] "To the Editor", Australasian Chronicle (17 March 1840), 2 

To the Editor of the Australasian Chronicle. Sir, The government brig Governor Phillip and the Nautilus, with Captain Maconochie and about 200 prisoners from Dublin, reached Norfolk Island after a passage from Sydney of eight days. The island, or group of islands rather, for there are three in number, have a beautiful appearance, and present a lovely and picturesque retreat in the midst of the vast ocean.

Alas, that such a terrestrial paradise
Should be the abode of guilt!

The most luxuriant and refreshing verdure mantles the hills and cliffs; the blue expanse shows itself in delightful contrast with the dark foliage on each jutting promontory, and through pine trees and firs, which grow to an amazing height and stateliness even where their stems are washed by the rolling tide. Captain Maconochie, Colonel Hulme, Mr. Ormsby, police magistrate, and the other passengers, in several boats, effected a landing at Cascade, which is a name given to a bay three miles to the eastward of the settlement. It appears that this landing place offers less danger than that on the settlement, where there is recorded a dismal catalogue of lives lost and dire accidents, the last of which, still fresh in the mind of every inhabitant, and which took place less than three weeks before the arrival of the brig, is the melancholy loss of three lives. The Hon. Capt. Best, of the 50th Regiment, Corporal M'Loughlin, of the same regiment, and Mr. M'Lean, Superintendent of Agriculture, were returning from an excursion to one of the neighbouring islands, when the wind rose suddenly, increasing the fury of the ground swell, which rendered the bar impassable before they could be aware of their danger or even retreat. I understand that several floats are to be constructed; they will be laid on different parts of this dangerous passage. Norfolk Island has become famed. It is but sixty-six years since Captain Cook first visited these shores. Four years afterwards, P. G. King was appointed the first Commandant, and sent hither by Governor Arthur Phillip. He landed here in 1778 with his small detachment, consisting of one subaltern officer and six marines, and about fifteen prisoners. At present there is on the island a military establishment 200 strong, with three or four subaltern officers, one or two captains, and a colonel. It is to be the head quarters of a regiment. There is an extensive agricultural establishment. The island is said to contain 17,000 acres, about 2,000 of which, as well as I could learn, are under cultivation, and produce maize corn, wheat, &c. This establishment is kept up by the labour of the prisoners, who, since the present arrival, amount to about 1,500. The settlement consists of military and prisoners' barracks, and officers' quarters. A new jail is in progress of erection, on the American plan, containing ninety cells. There is also a church establishment; it consists of two or three chaplains for the two persuasions, with government salaries. The Catholics are the more numerous, as they are about 800 in number, exclusive of the military with their wives and children. These are about half and half Protestant and Catholic. As yet there are no churches built for the accommodation of the inhabitants. There is a wretched looking barn at Longreach, in which the Irish prisoners assembled after landing, and were addressed by their chaplain. It is surprising that nothing more decent has been provided for the worship of Almighty God, and that 200 human beings, or 800, I suppose, on the Sabbaths, should have to assemble in a place scarcely lighted, with sacks of corn piled up in every direction, and festooned on all sides elegantly with the cobwebs. Verily, religion appears to have been hitherto the least, the last object of consideration - religion, which exerts so great an influence, that here were these wretched felons weeping aloud at her voice, whilst being admonished of their duties, and reminded of their country, their early days, and the instructions and religious duties they had then imbibed. These new prisoners were most judiciously kept separate from the old hands. Captain Maconochie surely cannot fail of success with them, although time alone will tell how far the hardened and trebly-convicted sullen and obstinate wretches which are to be found on this island, in the prisons, may be brought to amend by the social system. Yet its merits are not to be tested by its success on the old hands; the system is to be applied to the new comers and future arrivals. On them, not a shadow of doubt can be entertained of its triumphant success. The mild, humane government of Major Ryan, from all accounts of the good effects it has produced, is proof of what is here advanced; and his government was but a stepping-stone, a paving of the way to the social system. In any event, that of terror of the lash, tried heretofore, has been found to have signally failed. Your obedient servant, NAUTILUS. Norfolk Island, March 5, 1840.


"PORT PHILLIP", The Sydney Herald (17 April 1840), 2 

By the Curlew from Sydney we have received a letter from a friend informing us, as fact, that Captain Maconochie, the superintendent of Norfolk Island, "had taken down with him to that settlement, one hundred pounds worth of musical instruments, and nearly the same amount of books, for the purpose of working out his favourite social system". :Music hath charms to sooth the savage breast", we know, but we have yet to be informed of the pleasing fact that trebly convicted scoundrels of the deepest dye can be reclaimed, by blowing on the Kent bugle or German flute.


"CELEBRATION of the QUEEN'S BIRTH-DAY AT NORFOLK ISLAND", Australasian Chronicle (23 June 1840), 2 

Our benevolent superintendent having expressed his intention of honouring our beloved Queen's birth day with all due festivity in this the most remote region of the globe, this most distant portion of the British dominions, every mind was attentive and every hand was busy in making the necessary preparations for that auspicious day. The royal standard floated proudly on the signal-staff, which was tastefully decorated with all the flags and colours that the Island could furnish. Having borrowed the Governor Phillip's small cannon, with those already on the settlement, a salute of twenty-one guns was fired at noon, from the summit of the hill leading to Longridge, which was this day with all due solemnity named and called Queen's Town. The garrison returned the salute with a feu de joie, under the command of Colonel Hulme, of the 96th regiment, and gave three cheers for our gracious Victoria, which was heartily responded to by the prisoners from all parts of the settlement. Captain Maconochie, accompanied by several of the civil officers, then visited the prisoners at their barracks, and told them that he was anxious to recall to their minds the land of their birth, and revive those feelings of affection and loyalty that warm the heart of every British subject on such occasions as the present, even of those who are now expiating the offences committed against the laws of their country. A strong feeling existed in the colonies against the doubly-convicted prisoners of this Island-they were considered by some as incorrigible and irreclaimable. From such feelings he was every day more and more dissenting, as he was convinced by his own experience that the great body of these prisoners, more than twelve hundred, there before him, were every day shewing forth proofs of order, regularity, and industry, so that there was not at that moment a single man in gaol or in confinement (cheers). He was most anxious to serve them, to redeem them from bondage, and to send them forth in due time to earn an honest livelihood, and to become useful subjects to our youthful and illustrious Queen; but it all rested now with themselves; and as a proof of the confidence he had in their good dispositions and orderly conduct, he gave them indulgences this day which were unknown to Norfolk Island since the hour that it became a penal settlement. Their conduct this day would prove that they knew how to value a humane government, and would contradict the opinions of those who brand them with the desperate character of incorrigibles. (An unanimous cry of "we'll not abuse your benevolence! we'll behave like British subjects!" ran through the assembled multitude.) A puncheon of lemonade mixed with a libation of rum was then produced, and the gallant Captain proposed in a bumper "the health of Victoria our Queen, and old England forever!" and every man with a merry heart quaffed his glass amid the joyous shouts of "Long live the Queen!" The superintendent then proceeded to the Long ridge settlement, now Queen's Town, where there are near six hundred new hands, who are kept separate from the penal prisoners. Several spacious buildings having been lately erected for their accommodation, the place is rapidly assuming the appearance of a town, with workshops, police barracks, &c. There again Captain Maconochie, after some appropriate remarks and advice, proposed the Queen's health, which was rapturously cheered. He told them that "his system" was not to make the life of a convict one of ease, indolence, or pleasure, but one of constant employment, of industry, and reformation, and thus fit those who, through past idleness and dishonesty, brought punishment and degradation on themselves, for earning honest bread once more in some of the neighbouring colonies. He told the new hands that much more was expected from them than from the old offenders. He wished to encourage emulation, and to test by order and industry which were the more likely of becoming better men and more useful subjects. At the close of this exhortation the curtain rose on a temporary stage, erected in the open area, and a band of vocal and instrumental music commenced the national anthem of God save the Queen. A large placard was then exhibited, announcing in due form that the "Exile's Return" would be then performed "by permission" for the first time, at the Queen's Town Theatre Royal: this produced thunders of applause. A similar exhibition took place at the old settlement, and thus the evening passed on, with some good acting and some excellent songs and glees, which were closed with fireworks and another salute of twenty-one guns. The prisoners were allowed to remain out of barracks till eight o'clock, when, at the first sound of the bell every man retired to rest with the utmost order, and with a light heart, blessing this first happy day that was perhaps ever spent at a penal settlement. A ball and supper was given at Government House, which was brilliantly illuminated, at which the most numerous party of ladies and gentlemen assembled that is on record on the fashionable annals of Norfolk island. Every one was in admiration at the regularity and becoming demeanour of the prisoners, who, to the number of eighteen hundred, were allowed the whole day to traverse the Island in every direction; while two boats lay alongside the new wharf, the oars near at hand; a quantity of powder for rockets, and for loading the cannon, was piled around the guns, without a single soldier to keep guard over these things, which would, a little time back, be laid hold of with desperate avidity. The striking fact is, Captain Maconochie has only to say, "Let this or that be done; let this or that be shunned;" and his order is immediately carried into effect. Petty theft, that was once so prevalent, is now quite rare on Norfolk Island. But, as there is no rule without an exception, one gentleman seemed inspired with the "lamentative" spirit of Jeremiah, and never ceased deploring the soul-destroying effects of a play on the morals of penal prisoners! This gentleman does not open his mouth against the monthly military plays; and yet I am at a loss to conjecture in what possible way could the recital of a part of an historical or entertaining play be injurious to a parcel of men collected in their mess-room, and thus amusing each other for an hour or two. This gentleman cannot be ignorant of the daily improper conversation and the nightly profane singing that takes place in the gangs and wards. Is it not better to regulate recreation by a public exhibition, where anything indecent or unbecoming can be immediately detected and suppressed. But I must conclude. VIVAT VICTORIA, P.S. A night or two after the Queen's birthday the assigned servant of one of the free overseers stole some tea, sugar, and wearing apparel from his master. The entire mass of the prison population gave the most manifest signs of indignation at this man's base theft; they begged to be allowed to inflict summary punishment on the culprit; and, if they had obtained their request, Lynch law would have been put in force in a most striking manner. How remarkable a change of feeling! A few months back this offence would have been considered as a mere trifle by the prisoners, and it would have been a difficult matter to get them to give evidence in such a case, even for the detection of the offender; now, the whole body seem determined to put an end to thieving, and would in this instance, I think, put an end to the thief if they could but get him into their clutches, for they consider this fellow as being disgrace on them all.

"NORFOLK ISLAND", The Sydney Herald (24 June 1840), 2 


Alexander Maconochie, "Memorandum founded on my Experience in Norfolk Island" ["beginning of August" 1840], Correspondence Norfolk Island 1846, [new pagination] 1, 4 

Having been now about Five Months in charge in Norfolk Island, and about to tended a new Set of Regulations . . ., it seems desirable that I should accompany this with a specific statement of the matured Views on which it is founded . . .

[4] . . . the Expediency of the Head of a Penal Station under the new System having always One of Two intelligent Assistants, who can reason with him on general Principles, at the same Time that they superintend minute Details, and who may thus become qualified to succeed him when, in the ordinary Course of Nature, he passes off . . . In this I have derived the most important Aid here from one of the Assistant Surgeons (Dr. Reid); and if Assistant Superintendents are appointed I earnestly recommend him to be on. I have even found his medical Knowledge useful (though certainly an inferior Recommendation) in discharging the Detail of the extra Duties which I have been thus led to confide to him, and his Knowledge of Mechanics not less so . . .


Thomas Sharpe (Episcopalian chaplain), journal, Norfolk Island, 8 October 1840 - 31 December 1840; MS B218 (journal part 2), State Library of New South Wales (pagination continuous from B217) (TRANSCRIPT)

October 8th 1840 . . . [715] . . . A most extraordinary instance of the liberalism of the Superintendent has occurred here. The Government purchased a Seraphine, for this place, when Capt. Maconochie, was sent down here. A young man named Packer was appointed to play on the Instrument, which a little while ago, was sent to Longridge, - The man is a Protestant, the place of worship, is used alternately by the Protestants and Romanists [716] or Service. Hearing that he had been assisting at the Mass and absenting himself from the Church Service, I spoke to him on the subject wh and, stated to him my displeasure that he being a protestant, should assist in the Roman Catholic Worship. He mentioned my objections to the Superintendent, who said he would consider of it, and let him know. He than sent him instructions in writing, ordering him to attend both places alternately, - Thus a protestant is compelled, by this sapient reformer, to attend once a fortnight, the Popish Chapel, and assist in the Popish Service. And yet this encroachment on the liberty of conscience will be called liberal feeling. I have forbid him to play at our Service, if he does at theirs, the poor man, is Overseer at the Hospital, under an Assistant Surgeon who is a [717] Roman Catholic, and whose appointment here, was made, it is generally understood, in order that he might teach the prisoners music. He might surely have performed himself, without forcing a protestant to assist in a worship so contrary to all his ideas of fine religion. To the Romanist party in this place, everything, is apparently wished to be made subservient . . .

[742] . . . December 10th [1840] When leaving a poor man, whom I visited at Longridge, and returning home today, I was much surprised to see the coffin on a cart for him made and sent up from the Settlement some hours before his death. The Hospital there appears to be in as undiscipline a state, as the body of the prisoners are. A prisoner overseer, a music master, seems to have the greater part of the work to do, which is done. The men appear dirty, and in one part of the Barrack room, in which the Hospital is situated, a number of the men sleep, whose noise and disturbance must greatly harass the poor sick men, and especially those who are near death. About fifteen of the new hands have died since they came here under the Social System . . .

December 18th [1840] . . . [748] . . . A great error I am sorry to say has been committed in building the new Church. It has been placed so near the Romish Chapel, that on account of the instruments of music they have been favoured with, a great annoyance is caused to the congregation of our Church by the noise, made by them, during Divine Service. The separation between the two buildings is so trifling, that, yesterday, it was with the greatest difficulty, I could preach to my people in the afternoon. It was like preaching in a room with a band of music, playing all the while in the verandah. When the Romish Service is finished, which in the afternoon occupies very little time, they in a most furious manner [749] began with their Clarinets so, that I suppose little of the sermon could be heard. This they call practice. The truth is, that they have had so many indulgencies from the Government, that their presumption now is almost unbearable. When will the Protestants see the guilt of their proceedings in giving encouragement to a system if idolatry, to a system which is attempting continually to crush the protestant faith . . .

[757] December 31st [1840] . . . The year 1840 is now nearly at a close. What important changes have occurred in this Island with respect to prison discipline since its commencement. I wish I could say that the change in the moral character of many of them has been in proportion also effected. But the most charitable mind, who is not blind to passing events, cannot fail to perceive that hard as many of these outcasts were before the Social System came among them with its thousand fairy promises, since then they have become much worse . . . [772] There is a great want of proper management here also, which is a prolific source of much disorder and confusion. The men have so many Masters who give so many different and contrary orders, that the poor fellows hardly know whom to obey. And this causes them perhaps to neglect many things belonging to their duty which would be cheerfully performed, were there some guiding hand, to direct the whole. The Camp at Longridge appears now to be under the management of the Second Assistant Surgeon. The Superintendent whose duty it has always been to muster the men & has only the charge of the labour, the rest is to be done by Assistant Surgeon. [773] In addition to this he has to teach the prisoners music. The Hospital of which he has the charge is situated at the Agricultural establishment, about a mile and a quarter from the Settlement. Instead of residing there he has been hitherto living on the Settlement. A dispenser, a music master also, appears to have the duty there principally to perform. He is however more concerned about his own comforts, apparently than that of the patients about him. Hence his time is chiefly spent, either in his own cottage, or taking recreation, with a number of the men. It is much to be regretted that so many abuses should prevail, and that so many [774] men should eat the bread of idleness . . .

[779] . . . Today a prisoner mentioned to me that he had been prevented from attending Church for about ten weeks, on account to work constantly for the two Assistant Surgeons here. The singers at Longridge have marks given to them. They sing in Church, yet these men are brought away from their Barracks for the [780] avowed purpose of singing glees & songs at Government House and stay all night away, and are plentifully regaled with spirits etc. Will this promote reformation among them. Amusement, not religion, appears to be the ground work of the wonder working system among the prisoners. The great aim appears to be to keep them in good humour, and little petted children they may be tolerably quiet for a few hours and then they become more peevish than ever. So it is with the men here. They can cheer and they can promise and that is all. When practice steps in, they are miserably deficient, and when temptation is held out, they soon fall . . .


Letter Lord John Russell to George Gipps, received 11 March 1841 with enclosure, "Remarks and suggestions by the Governor of Parkhurst Prison [UK] . . . relative to Convict Discipline at Norfolk Island", Historical Records of Australia, series 1, volume 20 (1839-40) (HRA 1924), 806

[806] [Letter Lord John Russell to George Gipps, received 11 March 1841 with enclosure, "Remarks and suggestions by the Governor of Parkhurst Prison [UK] . . . relative to Convict Discipline at Norfolk Island"] . . . ENCLOSURE No. 5 in No. 1, containing "Memorandum on the expediency of cultivating a Taste for Music." The effect of singing has been found to be powerful and most salutary among the Prisoners at Parkhurst. The first symptoms of mental development are frequently elicited in the singing class, in which all are placed without reference to taste or musical powers. The heavy indifference to instruction of any kind which at first manifests itself among criminal boys, often gives way to harmony; and, by its instrumentality, the mind and feelings are as it were insensibly allured into activity, and pleasurable sensations once experienced from tuition of any kind almost invariably stimulates the mind to other efforts.


Alexander Maconochie, Report, Norfolk Island, 20th March 1841, Correspondence Norfolk Island 1846, 14, 24 

Sir, In the beginning of August last, when I had been Five Months in charge on this Island, I had the Honour to transmit to your Excellency a Memorandum founded on my Observations and Experience here; and now that I have completed a Year in the same Position, it appears probable . . . that another similar Document may be expected from me . . .

[24] In my Report I have not adverted to the Influence which the cultivation of Music, as an Interlude in their other Avocations, has had among the Men generally, and the English prisoners in particular; and it is, in fact, an Agency to which it is impossible to assign specific Results; yet I am persuaded that it has been most beneficial. Every Sunday Evening we are enables, in consequence of it, to have Meetings for Sacred Music, partly vocal, partly instrumental, which are numerously attended by all the Men, and at once innocently and improvingly employ this leisure Time to them, and prevent it being given up, as it used to be, to licentious and corrupting Action and Conversation. On Thursday Evenings after Work we have similar Meetings for general Music, in which I especially seek to encourage patriotic, national, naval, and other Music, calculated to keep up affectionate Recollections of Home; and I attribute much of the general softening of Manners among us to this. It is impossible, indeed, to assign a direct of exclusive Cause for this, and there are probably many, but the Effect is certain, and this has an obvious bearing on it.


"ORATORIO. [FROM A CORRESPONDENT]", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (3 July 1841), 2 

The usual consequence of over excited expectation was apparent in the "come off" of this grand affair: personal and general puffery of the most glaring kind had been resorted to, and the result was, of course, the usual recoil.

All the world knows the laughter and contempt that has fallen upon the devoted head of a certain Doctor professing a crusade against the ignorance of the day, and ending only in the most glaring display of his own. This business has been akin to it. The pompous oratorio must, by every honest chronicler, be pronounced a failure.

The two great organs of this stupendous musical exhibition - Mr. Nathan and his automaton rival for public fame - are pronounced, una voce, to have disappointed the public . . .


"ST. MARY'S ORGAN. To the Editor", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (24 July 1841), 3 

Having read with astonishment in the Australasian Chronicle of yesterday, a ridiculous puff, as to the effect produced by the organ of St. Mary's Cathedral, on Sunday evening last, I take this opportunity of informing you, and the public, that the whole statement is incorrect - at the present moment the Catholics are devising some plan to get rid of the horrifying nuisance that exists in the choir of that place of worship: I presume therefore, that the "puff" must have been penned by some wag, or by our colonial 'Vicar of Bray,' who once said, he preferred Reid's fifth, to Mozart's twelfth. Sydney, 20th July, 1841.

"ST. MARY'S ORGAN. To the Editor", Australasian Chronicle (27 July 1841), 2 

[The "VICAR OF BRAY", evidently W. A. Duncan himself, replies to the above.]

"St. Mary's Organ: Oh! save me from my friends. To the Editor", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (31 July 1841), 3 

. . . But to the worthy Vicar himself - you, Sir, accuse me of falsehood, in quoting your own words, "Reid's fifth, &c." In proof of my assertion, I refer you to the Chronicle of 1839, when Dr. Reid was the object of your adulation . . .


John Ward, convict, Norfolk Island, manuscript diary; National Library of Australia, MS 3275


20th [January 1842]. Told Dr. R. of my suffering, he examined, and my disease proved to be what I anticipated - Fistula - "As rottenness in my bones" Proverbs 12c 4v = Was taken into Hospital, and lanced in different places to try to open the sore and give me a little ease of my pain. Was a little easier next morning, poultice and fomentation all day soon brought it to a head, and about seven o'clock in the evening of the 21st January 1842 it burst and discharged in great quantities which brought [me] to be very weak. On the third day when Dr. Reid came, he examined me very minutely, said something to the Dispensor in an animated lighter manner, then turning to me [132] said "you are a lucky man". What he meant by those words I never knew for certainty; only as any person might guess according to the situation they were in. I shall not here particularize the Doctor, altho' he the Doctor is a particular man. An inexhaustible fund of humour, free and pleasent, not stiffened with an air of seeming consequence . . . The Doctor behaved very kind to me, and I am happy to say gave me great hope of recovery.

While convalescing, reading Doddridge's Rise and progress and musing on his own lucky escape from mortality, Ward watched as:

Death cut his victims down on my right hand and on my left, several died of the Dysentria, which were loud warnings for me. On Sunday March 6th a man was hourly expected to die, the Priest was sent for and he administered the sacrament to the dying man, RC . . .


And on 6 April he was "appointed, at my own request" as a wardsman in the hospital


Ward was being taught "How to dress a blister"


And remaining there, later as Constable, until December. Then, with a return of infection and a bowel complaint:

I was obliged to be cut by Dr Reid twice, for the Fistola was spreading in an upward direction.


Close to the end of the diary, still in the hospital after 16 months but now also taking evening classes, Ward unwittingly reflects on the circumstances which have made him a model of Maconochie's system:

April 18th [1843]. Whilst musing after reading the bible at the school I have just now mentioned; it occurred to my mind, what a blessing that I was in such society free from the bustle of the world, yet in a prison (for so it is in one sense of the word) but to me it is liberty! It is ordained for the improvement and welfare of my soul & to teach me to be contented in whatever station I am in.


ASSOCIATIONS: John Ward (convict)


"Norfolk Island-Reform in Convict Treatment", The Phrenological Journal and Miscellany 15 (Edinburgh: John Anderson, 1842), 22-32

. . . I should mention that the men are paid in "marks" for their labour; so many count towards their freedom, and all extra have a certain money-value, for which they get their food and clothing, as they like best themselves. If they don't work they get no marks, consequently no food but bread and water. There are no idlers; many will work all night for extra marks. They have got an evening school, where 180 have learned to read; each man subscribing so many marks a-month, which pay their teachers-the better educated among themselves . . . Music is encouraged among them, and you would be astonished at our band. Dr. Reid, the medical man for the new hands, has been brought up in Germany, and is a thorough musician, literally able to play on every instrument. He has taught, with other assistance, thirteen who, six months ago, did not know a note. They now astonish all who hear them. I have heard no such band in the Colonies. There are flutes, clarionets, French-horns, bassoons, trombones, &c. &c., and they are now manufacturing a drum. They play every Thursday in the Settlement. They are capital glee-singers-and our church music is quite beautiful. The men in their leisure hours meet for improvement; and so eager are numbers of them, that they beg for task-work at so many marks, getting up at four in the morning, and having it done by ten or eleven-so that the rest of the day is their own, to read or sing, play, or work at some ingenious fancy of their own   


"REPORT on the present EPIDEMIC DYSENTRY among the ENGLISH PRISONERS at NORFOLK ISLAND by the Medical Officer", dated 1 February 1843 and jointly signed by H. GRAHAM, Colonial Assistant Surgeon and J. A. REID, Colonial Assistant Surgeon, Correspondence Norfolk Island 1846, 128-29 

When the English Prisoners arrived at Norfolk Island in March 1840 a mild epidemic Dysentry was prevalent among the Penal Prisoners . . . The newly arrived Prisoners soon became affected with the Disease; and being debilitated by a long Sea Voyage, it, in them, became more general and malignant . . . In January 1842 it again became epidemic among the English Prisoners . . . The great Extent to which the Disease then prevailed among the English, at the same Time scarcely affecting the Penal Prisoners, gave rise to many Inquiries; and we then submitted a Report on the Subject to Captain Maconochie, pointing out what appeared to us to be the principal exciting Causes . . . many Cases were treated between July and October. From the great Want of Hospital Accommodation, many under Treatment were discharged in a State of Convalescence to make room for the more urgent Cases. By a sudden Return to Salt Beef and Maize Meal Ration they either quickly relapsed, so as again to require Admission into Hospital, or the Disease, instead of yielding to a Return of Health, passed into chronic Form. In a great many it has so continued on and off . . . About latter End of October and Beginning of November 1843 the Disease again appeared in an epidemic Form among the English Prisoners, and continues up to the present Time . . . The salt Beef and Maize Meal Diet is not well calculated to restore Men from the debilitating Effects of a long Sea Voyage, or to sustain them against Disease peculiar to a Change of Climate. We therefore think that the Ration recommended by Captain Maconochie, namely, fresh Meat and Wheaten Flour every Second Day, for the first Nine Months for future Prisoners sent here direct from England, might be the Means of restoring them to Health after the voyage, and strengthening them against the first Effects of a Change of Climate . . .


Letter, George Gipps to Lord Stanley, 1 April 1843, Historical Records of Australia, series 1, volume 22 (1842-43) (HRA 1924), 620

In my Despatch of the 15th Augt., 1842, No. 144, I detailed to Your Lordship the system on which Captn. Maconochie, according to the last reports then received from him, proposed to place his Ticket of Leave Holders, which system however I found on my arrival on the Island had not been adopted . . .

In respect to the alleged increase of Crime, and the way in which it is said to go unpunished, I am happy to be able to express my persuasion that the reports, which have reached Sydney, and which I especially alluded to in my Despatch of the 15th Augt., 1842, No. 145, are much exaggerated. It is true that Captn. Maconochie, during the last few months, has been more severe in his punishments than he previously had been; but the accounts, which I have alluded to, must, even in respect to the occurrences to which they related, have been, as far as I can judge, overcolored.

Some crimes of magnitude have occurred, which perhaps scarcely would have been committed under the stricter rule of his Predecessors, such as a Robbery committed about a year ago on the Sabbath Day during the time of Divine Service in the Cases of house of Dr. Reid (the assistant Surgeon of the Establishment). Another Robbery in daylight . . . But the perpetrators of all these offences were detected and punished.


Letter, George Gipps (governor NSW) to Lord Stanley (London), 15 December 1844, Historical Records of Australia, series 1, volume 23 (1843-44) (HRA 1925), 584-85

[Letter, George Gipps (governor NSW) to Lord Stanley (London), 15 December 1844] . . . I have further to report that I have, within the last few days [? 8 May 1844], received the resignation of Dr. Reid, one of the Assistant Surgeons on the Convict Establishment, stationed at Norfolk Island; and consequently that the number of Medical Officers on that [585] establishment will be further reduced, as I do not purpose to fill up his vacancy.

"GOVERNMENT GAZETTE . . . MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS", The Sydney Morning Herald (7 February 1845), 4 

James Reid, Assistant Colonial Surgeon [no place indicated]


[Account of Thomas Rogers (1806-1903), catechist, religious instructor on Norfolk Island from 1845 to 1847; this extract July-October 1846]; W. Foster Roger, "Man's Inhumanity", MS (typescript C214), page 130, State Library of New South Wales 

Mr. Murray [the Catholic chaplain] was also allowed to have any men whom he named kept in from work on Saturday mornings for the devotional exercised connected with the office of "confession"; while at the very same time the singing at the English service was discontinued for a considerable period by the dispersion of the choir (six singers) from the ward to which they had for many months belonged. Saturday mornings had long been allowed these men for practising the psalms . . .

NOTE: This account from after Reid's departure from Norfolk Island, but concerning early practice under Maconochie overturned by the new commandant, John Price. Rogers was the model for the Rev. James North in Marcus Clarke's For the term of his natural life.


"PARRAMATTA . . . ART UNION", The Sydney Morning Herald (9 January 1846), 2

The first distribution of pictures in the colony by this, now in England, very popular medium, came off at the Court House on Monday. The Art Union had its origin in Mr. Howard Bower, the artist, being desirous to proceed to England as early as possible, and finding it impossible to find eight-and-twenty purchasers for as many pictures at any thing like remunerating prices, hit on the present idea. The pictures varied in size, and possessed considerable merit. Sixty subscribed at £1 1s. each, entered for the chances of the eight-and-twenty prizes, and the drawing was superintended by Mr. Elliott, P.M., and Mr. Hill, assisted by two young lads, who respectively drew the names of the subscribers, and the prizes or blanks, Mr. Elliott calling the names of the party and the number of the ticket, and Dr. Hill pronouncing their fate. There was a very numerous attendance, and among whom were several ladies, of the residents of the district present at the drawing.


"DEPARTURES", The Sydney Morning Herald (22 January 1846), 2 

January 21. - Jane Goudie, barque, Captain Goudie, for London. Passengers - Rev. Mr. Slatyer, Mrs. Slatyer, Mr. and Mrs. H. Bowen [sic], Miss Reid . . .

[Advertisement], Aberdeen Journal (26 February 1862), 4

HAEC DIES . . . Dr. Reid.
O QUAM PULHCRA . . . Rev. C. Fraser.
VENI CREATOR . . . Dr. Reid.
AGNUS DEI . . . Knight.
MAGNIFICAT . . . Emmerig.
TU DEUM [sic] . . . Dr. Reid.
LAUDATE PUERI . . . Zingarelli.
GIVE GLORY . . . Dr. Reid.
O, FILII . . . Do. [Dr. Reid]
GREAT AND GOOD . . . Do. [Dr. Reid]
JUSTUS UT PALMA . . . Rev. C. Fraser.
GLORIA . . . Müller.
DOMINE SALVUM FAC . . . Dr. Reid . . .


[Columbus Fitzpatrick], "REMINISCENCES OF CATHOLICISM IN THE EARLY DAYS OF THE COLONY (To the Editor of the Goulburn Argus.)", Freeman's Journal (25 November 1865), 741 

. . . Oh ! it makes my heart thrill when I think of those happy days. I have since then heard the organ of St. Mary's; I have seen Dr. Reid, who was a great man, assisted by his sisters and Miss Lane and a great body of singers, but they could not equal the choir formed by Richenberg. I never heard anything like it except once, that was the day on which onr venerated Archbishop first landed in Sydney . . .

ASSOCIATIONS: Columbus Fitzpatrick


"BANFF. THE CHAPEL OF OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL", Banffshire Journal and General Advertiser (13 December 1870), 5

. . . The services began at eleven, the choir singing Dr. Reid's "Great and Good." The choir was led by Mr. Hay, Aberdeen; Miss Fraser, organist, Aberdeen, presided at the harmonium, while there were violins and brass instruments, and male and female singers . . . The musical performances from first to last were of a high order. Ere the introductory piece was finished, the Bishop . . . entered the chapel from the vestry . . . in procession . . .

Musical works

Extant works in red bold; lost/missing works in black bold

Works documented in Scotland (? composed Scotland, c. 1830s)

Adeste fidelis, "a new setting", Dr. Reid (Noden)

Bless the lord, J. A. Reid; copy in Dufftown MS, Scottish Catholic Archives, GB240-AccM-GM, volume 3, 64-69 (Noden)

The images below reproduced here with the kind permission of the Scottish Catholic Archives (copyright)

Bless the lord, J. A. Reid, page 1; Scottish Catholic Archives Bless the lord, J. A. Reid, page 2; Scottish Catholic Archives Bless the lord, J. A. Reid, page 3; Scottish Catholic Archives Bless the lord, J. A. Reid, page 4; Scottish Catholic Archives Bless the lord, J. A. Reid, page 5; Scottish Catholic Archives Bless the lord, J. A. Reid, page 6; Scottish Catholic Archives

Domine salvum fac, Dr. Reid (Aberdeen 1862)

Give Glory, Dr. Reid (Aberdeen 1862)

Great and Good, Dr. Reid (Aberdeen 1862, Banff 1870)

O, filii [et filiae], Dr. Reid (Aberdeen 1862)

Te Deum [? Tu Deum], Dr. Reid (Aberdeen 1862)

Veni creator spiritus, J. A. Reid, Dufftown MS, Scottish Catholic Archives, GB240-AccM-GM, volume 3, 70-71 (Aberdeen 1862, Noden)

The images below reproduced here with the kind permission of the Scottish Catholic Archives

Veni creator spiritus, J. A. Reid, page 1; Scottish Catholic Archives Veni creator spiritus, J. A. Reid, page 2; Scottish Catholic Archives

Works first documented in Australia (1839-44) (? composed in Scotland, c.1830s, or later ? Australia)

Paradise Lost (oratorio after Milton, possibly that performed Glasgow, April 1837) (Sydney 1839)

Zriny (opera, ? after Theodor Körner) (Sydney 1839)

A new opera (Sydney 1839)

Mass no. 1 in C (Sydney 1839)

Valkayda [Valkyrie] (opera) (Norfolk Island 1842)

Works first documented Valparaíso (? mostly composed Chile, c.1844-69)

Misa de gracias, D. Aquinas Ried, performed Valpariaso 18 September 1844 (Fonck 1927, Lira 1969)

Possibly the Mass no. 1 in C performed in Sydney in 1839

Original printed libretto of Ried [Reid]'s opera Telesfora (1846)

Telésfora (opera), first performed Valparaíso, November 1846

[Libretto] Telésfora, ópera heroica en tres actos escrita y compuesta por Aquinas Ried (Valparaíso: Mercurio, 1846) (DIGITISED)

La cancion de la Novara, first performed Valparaíso, 24 April 1859 (Torres Marin 1990)

Il Grenatiere, opera (1860)

Walhaida, opera (1863)

Diana, opera (1868); according to Alberto Ried (Ried 1920, 13), the overture at least of Diana was still extant in 1894, when it was posthumously awarded a prize in an international music contest at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago.

Other works:

[Pereira Salas 1947] A su muerte, acaecida en 1869, dejaba entre los manuscritos - perdidos más tarde en el terremoto de Valparaíso en 1906 - fragmentos de Ismenilda, Idoma y Ondega, y el tema de una nueva y tercera ópera en español, el drama lírico nacional Atacama.

[Lira 1969] Sin embargo lograron salvarse sus óperas - de libreto y música del Dr. Ried - Telésfora, de la cual ya hemos hablado; Teutonia; Ismenilda (en alemán) ; Granatieri (en italiano) ; Walhaide, Ondega (ambas en alemán) y las óperas inconclusas Ydoona, Atacama y otras. En cuanto a música pura pudieron conservarse Germanische Wanderlieder (Canciones germánicas de los emigrados) y multitud de trozos para orquesta, conciertos vocales e instrumentales. Además, su drama The Demon of the Deep, en inglés, y en el cual trata de la vida extremadamente penosa de los marineros de buques de guerra y Desiertos y oásis en alemán.

Other works, litetary, scientific, &c.

Including modern editions

Ried 1847

Aquinas Ried, Deutsche Auswanderung nach Chile (Valparaíso: 1847)

Modern edition in Georg Schwarzenberg (Hg.), Geschichtliche Monatsblätter . . . 1 Jg., Heft 10 (1827), 3-14

Ried 1860

Aquinas Ried, "La conquista de Arauco", Revista del Pacifico: publicación literaria y cientifica 2 (1860), 5-16, [part 2] 257-64; and see also 154-55 (extensive quote from another work by Ried), and 190 

Fonck 1895

Franz Fonck, "'Die ersten Deutschen in Chile' vorgedruckt seiner Lebensbeschreibung des Dr. Aquinas Ried", Südamerikanischen Rundschau (1894-95), 3-17

Reprinted in Keller 1927 below

Ried 1920

Alberto Ried (? ed.), Manuel Magallanes Moure, "Diario del viaje efectuado por el Dr. Aquinas Ried desde Valparaíso hasta Lago Llanquihue (7 de Febrero de 1847 al 20 de Junio del mismo año) (traducio del inglés)", Revista Chilena de Historia y Geografía 40 (1920)

And simultaneously as monograph (Santaigo de Chile: Imprenta Universitaria, 1920) (DIGITISED)

Alberto Ried, "Breve biografía del doctor Aquinas Ried", 9-13

Keller 1927

Carlos Keller (ed.), Dr. Aquinas Ried: Leben und Werke (Santiago - Casilla: Verlad des Wissenchaftlichen Archivs von Chile (Deutsch-Chilenischer Bund), 1927)

[1] Fonck 1927, "Dr. Aquinas Ried: Lebensbild eines Deutschen in Chile", 3-64

[2] Aus den Werken von Dr. Aquinas Ried, 65-end 

"Streflichter auf die Verbrecherwelt. Erlebnisse aud der Norfolk-Insel", 64-82


Gillis 1835

James Gillis, Report of the funeral oration on life of the reverend Charles Fraser delivered . . . in St. Peter's Chapel, Aberdeen, on Thursday, the 19th March, 1835 (Aberdeen: John Davidson & Co., 1835) (DIGITISED)

Schuch 1847

Dr. Schuch, "Rechenschafts-Bericht", Korrespondenz-blatt des zoologisch-mineralogischen Vereines in Regensburg 1 (1847), 4 

. . . Ich halte es für meine Pflicht, bei dieser Gelegenheit mit ehrender Anerkennung den Namen eines Mannes zu nennen, dessen Thätigkeit unserm Vereine zu gut kömmt, und ihm noch weiter förderlich sein wird. Unser Ehrenmitglied Herr Dr. J. Aquinas Ried in Valparaíso, der in Regensburg seine Studien gemacht und nun beinahe 20 Jahre die Welt nach allen Richtungen bereist hat, lebt gegenwärtig in dem Freistaat Chili, und bewahrt in sich eine treue Anhänglichkeit an die Stadt seiner Jugenderinnerungen. Ihm verdanke ich eine Sammlung seltener Vögel aus Chili, von denen bisher nur wenige aufgestellt wurden, die meisten theils der Aufstellung entgegensehen, theils zum Eintausche seltener Thiere bestimmt sind. Ich hoffe, dass schon die nächsten Monate zeigen werden, wie viel der Verein diesem würdigen Mitgliede verdanke, das die Ebenen Chilis wie die höchsten Cordilleras rastlos durchstreift, und mich durch seine Zusendungen in die angenehme Lage versetzt, zu den Sammlungen des Vereines ansehnliche Beiträge liefern zu können . . .

Novara 1863

"Viaje de la fragata austriaca Novara al derredor del Mundo, en 1859 (Traduccion, del aleman al castellano . . .)", Anales de la Universidad de Chile 23/6 (December 1863), 706 

También en diferentes brindis que mas tarde fueron pronunciados en el esquisito banquete, así como en las canciones i música, se manifestó la espresion de esos mismos sentimientos. Un médico i farmacéutico alemán, el doctor Aquinas Ried, bávaro de oríjen, en cuya casa se formó uno de los puntos mas agradables de reunión para los miembros de la espedicion, habia compuesto un coro para hombres, titulado: Willkommen der Novara! (¡Bien venida sea la Novara!), el cual fué ejecutado por él mismo i algunos miembros de la sociedad filarmónica alemana. Particularmente la estrofa final de ese coro encontró una entusiasta acojida, despertando un júbilo inmenso. Es la siguiente:

Sei einig nur, Germania,
So stehest du auch einzig da,
Das grosse Vaterland!

Davis 1867

Thesaurus craniorum: catalogue of the skulls of the various races of man, in the collection of Joseph Barnard Davis (London: Printed for the subscribers, 1867), 251-52 (nos. 1418-21, 1246) 

Gordon 1869

James Frederick Skinner Gordon,

The Catholic Church in Scotland from the suppression of the heirarchy till the present time (Glasgow: J. Tweed, 1869), 608 

REID, JOHN - Was Born in Aberdeen on the 18th April, 1819. Sprung from a Family which, on the maternal side, had given several Clergymen to the Church, and evincing early dispositions for the same state of life, he was received as an Alumnus into Blairs College on the 1st August, 1831. Having completed there the Classical Course, he was sent, in August, 1837, to the Scots College, Rome, to prosecute the higher Studies of Philosophy and Divinity in the Roman University. But his health giving way under the influence of a Foreign Climate, he was obliged to return, early in the following year, to his Native Country, and after some relaxation, he resumed his Studies at Blairs in September, 1838. On completing them, he was raised to the Priesthood in St. Peter's Catholic Chapel, Aberdeen, by the Right Rev. Dr. Kyle, on the 22d May, 1842 . . . he was named Assistant to the Rev. Charles Gordon, in his Native Town, where he continued as Missionary till his lamented Death. Mr. Reid's talents were of a high order, his attainments in Classical learning and modern Literature were varied and extensive, and to these were added a refined taste and solid judgment. He was an acute and profound Logician, thoroughly conversant with every recent improvement in the Polite Arts, and every late invention or discovery in Science; and he took a lively interest in all Philosophical researches and disquisitions. He also held a distinguished rank as a Musician; he composed several Pieces of Sacred Music of great merit, and arranged many others for the use of the Choir of St. Peter's Chapel, which, under his direction and training, attained so remarkable a pre-eminence among Catholic Choirs . . . [from Catholic Directory, 1855]

Brown 1882

Robert Brown, The peoples of the world: being a popular description of the characteristics, condition, and customs of the human family (London: Cassell, Petter, Galpin, & Co., 1882), 307-308 

In that portion of Bolivia which until recently intersected Chili to the Pacific live the remnants of a fast decaying tribe, the Atacamenos, of the Atacama desert. There is, perhaps, no drearier spot on the face of the earth than this dry, nitrate-covered waste, which, within late years, has attracted so much attention owing to its having proved rich in mines. A very recent traveller, Dr. Aquinas Reid, attached to the army during the Chileno-Peruvian War, describes it as an:

"extensive plain where you see no vestige of life where you see neither birds nor insects, where no plant grows, where the silence of the grave is disturbed only by the roar of the wind; where the face of the land is lime and the fine dust and the always bright sun pain the wearied eyes; and where, lastly, you see the skeleton of a quadruped and often the remains of a human being. Four days' travel from Cobija brings us to Calama, a little village situated in the centre of a great marsh, and where the traveller rests his beast and also his wearied bones, and gives the animals water. This village must be seen to form an idea of what it is; one can imagine nothing more sad and desolate. The village is surrounded by great ponds, and the water one gets has nothing in common with running water than that of being liquid, and its taste is very disagreeable to the palate, but it must be drunk. It causes attacks of diarrhoea, especially in strangers. This marsh forms to the coast what [308] is called the River Loa, which is the boundary between Peru and Bolivia. Two days more bring us to Chiuchiu, an ancient Peruvian cemetery, it is said. Here 500 to 600 bodies of men, women, and children are crouched in a half-moon, most of them in the same attitude, that of sitting, with the eyes fixed on space. Many have fallen and are covered with sand. We feel transported to another world, and imagine that these fantastic figures are looking at the traveller and saying, 'What do you seek here?' The general opinion is that these beings were buried alive, but my opinion is that they buried themselves, because there is no settlement in the neighbourhood where they could have lived, because many of the women have their children at the breast, and because in the disfigured faces there is still to be observed the sad expression of terrible sufferings, as though, pursued by some terrible enemy, they had preferred to die together rather than yield their bodies up to the conqueror.

Marr 1889

Robert A. Marr, Music for the people: a retrospect of the Glasgow International Exhibition,1888: with an account of the rise of choral societies in Scotland (Edinburgh; Glasgow: J. Menzies & Co., 1889), lxxxii

[lxxxii] In April 1837 an "oratorio," the subject taken from Milton's Paradise Lost, was performed in St. Andrew's Catholic Chapel, Great Clyde Street [Glasgow]. There were 86 performers, of whom 60 were choristers. The notice stated that "the chapel will be splendidly lighted with gas." This, with the additional intimation that the church would be properly heated, appeared frequently in the church notices all over the country this period. There was another performance at the Catholic Chapel on 16 May. In March 1838 Dr. Reid conducted a concert at Ducrow's Arena, Hope Street, with a band and chorus of 120 performers "including all the professional talent in Edinburgh and Glasgow."

Music in Scotland 1901

"Music in Scotland: A BRIEF HISTORICAL SURVEY", The Musical Times (1 November 1901), 725

. . . In 1833 the Glasgow Amateur Musical Society took part in the Creation. The same oratorio was performed a year later in the Episcopal Chapel by a body of seventy-eight executants, stated to be "the largest Band ever collected together in Glasgow." An oratorio, the subject taken from Milton's "Paradise Lost," was performed (in April, 1837) in St. Andrew's Catholic Chapel, Great Clyde Street, by eighty-six performers, of whom sixty were choralists. The announcement intimated that "the chapel will be splendidly lighted with gas."

Records Scots Colleges 1906

Records of the Scots Colleges at Douai, Rome, Madrid, Valladolid and Ratisbon, Volume 1: Registers of Students (Aberdeen: Printed for the New Spalding Club, 1906), 255

Anno 1817. 1ma Novembris sub conductu Rvdi. P. Galli ex Scotia ad nos venerunt: 97. James McNaughten, natus 1802, 8 Martii. (Rediit in Scotiam a 1828, ibique missionarius ordinatus est; 1862 in America.); 98. John Lament, natus anno 1805, 13 Decemb. (A 1828 abiit Monachium, postea Observatorii Regii Conservator.); 99. James Reid, natus anno 1809, 7 Septembr. (A 1829 in patriam reversus est.)

Magallanes Moure 1920

Manuel Magallanes Moure (ed.), Diario del viaje efectuado por el Dr. Aquinas Ried desde Valparaíso hasta Lago Llanquihue (7 de Febrero de 1847 al 20 de Junio del mismo año) (Santaigo de Chile: Imprenta Universitaria, 1920) (DIGITISED)

Fonck 1927

Franz Fonck, Dr. Aquinas Ried: Lebensbild eines Deutschen in Chile (Concepción: Imprenta Alemana, 1927)

In Keller 1927, 1-64

Diccionario 1931

Virgilio Figueroa (ed.), Diccionario Histórico y Biográfico de Chile 1800-1930 . . . Tomo 4-5 (Santiago de Chile: Establecimientos Gráficos Balcells & Co. 1931), 629

Pereira Salas 1947

Eugenio Pereira Salas, "El Rincón de la historia: la primera opera nacional", Revista Musical Chilena 2/17-18 (1947), 53-54 (DIGITISED)

Ried 1956

Alberto Ried, El mar trajo mi sangre (Santiago de Chile: Editorial del Pacifico, 1956) 

Lira 1969

Enrique Lira, "El Doctor Aquinas Ried: en el centenario de su fallecimiento", Anales chilenos de historia de la medicina 11/1 (1969), 73-78 (DIGITISED)

Torres Marin 1990

Manuel Torres Marin, Así nos vio la Novara: impresiones austríacas Sobre Chil ey el Perú en 1859 (Editorial Andrés Bello, 1990), 163, also 54, 75, 90, 148 (PREVIEW)

La cancion de la Novara (1859)

Parker de Bassi 2001

María Teresa Parker de Bassi, Memorias fragmentadas. El árbol de los Canciani en el (Val)-Paraíso terrenal (Santiago: Ediciones Tusitala, 2001) 

Heberlein 2006 (2008)

Regine I. Heberlein, Writing a national colony: the hostility of inscription in the German settlement of Lake Llanquihue (Ph.D dissertation, Brown University, 2006)

Regine I. Heberlein, Writing a national colony: the hostility of inscription in the German settlement of Lake Llanquihue (Amherst: Cambria Press, 2008) (PREVIEW)

Ried, 28-30, 38, 43, 149, 161, 179, 182, 187-89, 193, 214, 219; Flindt, Canciani, 35

Noden 2010

Shelagh Noden, "Musical memories of the north-east", Light of the north 15 (2010), 25-26 (pages 25-26) (DIGITISED)

[Summary from Skinner 2011a] Some new light was shed on Reid's identity and earlier career by the Scottish music researcher Shelagh Noden in 2010. Noden discovered a manuscript bass/organ part for various hymns and motets, at St. Peter's, Buckie, including an original setting of Adeste fidelis attributed to Dr. J. Reid. Later, she found an incomplete full score of the same piece in the Scottish Catholic Archives, for four-part choir, organ and strings (Scottish Catholic Archives, CH/SCA/LS/11/13; and CH/SCA/LS/11/11511). Other compositions by Reid survive in possibly later copies, including the "Grand Anthem Great and Good", sung at the dedication of St. Mary's Church (later cathedral) Aberdeen, in 1860.

The archive also has several letters from a Dr. James Reid, an Aberdeen surgeon and musical amateur, obviously our Dr. Reid. In a letter dated 28 March 1835, from his then residence 20, Castle-street, Aberdeen, Reid also referred to the musical compositions of his "late lamented uncle" (Charles Fraser); he hoped to get them published and make some money thereby: "Since I have had the labour [of preparing them for publication] I would wish to have some of the profit" (SCA/ BL/6/119/1; BL/6/178/4). 

A letter of 1835 reveals that Reid was moving to Glasgow to take up an organist's post, and also find medical employment there: "I am fully aware the blow that my moving from Aberdeen choir will inflict on the music". But in Glasgow, he found that Protestants would not employ a Catholic doctor: "In Glasgow I have laboured a good deal, both in the medical profession and as director of the Choir . . . I succeeded in raising a splendid orchestra and in giving four Oratorios" (BL/6/217/12.). He then announced that he planned to emigrate to Australia, where he hoped to set up a "musical warehouse and Academy" in New South Wales. Noden also found in a letter from the mother of the future Rev. John Reid (BL/6/217/8), dated 1 August 1838, the information: "James and the girls are not away yet".

Izquierdo König 2011

José Manuel Izquierdo König, "Totaleindruck o impresión total: La Telésfora de Aquinas Ried como proyecto polí­tico, creación literario-musical, reflejo personal y encuentro con el otro", Revista Musical Chilena 65/215 (Enero-Junio 2011), 5-22 (ONLINE)

[Abstract] Telésfora (1847) is a three-act opera written by Aquinas Ried. Since the epoch of the Chilean music historian Eugenio Pereira Salas this work has been considered as the first lyrical drama composed in the Chilean territory after the independence. The following essay discusses this point in depth on the basis of the libretto, which is the only element of this opera that has remained. The libretto reveals a concrete political project as well as a personal reflection on Ried's ideas along with his encounter with Chileans, Germans and indigenous people of the nineteenth century. In this regard, the figure of Aquinas Ried reaches a wider spectrum encompassing the musical and cosmopolitan life of the city of Valparaíso and the immigrants in 19th-century Chile.

[summary] (based on family documents in the care of Dona Ana Maria Ried Undurraga, and part of their own family research, and information based on letters to and from Ried found in Australia, copies of which were brought to Chile by the Australian medical historian Dr. Bryan Gandevia, who was attending a medical conference): According to family members, have been born in the castle of Strahfels in Bavaria, in 1810, although there is further discussion about the place and year. There are claims his parents died during the Napoleonic Wars . . . The castle was actually in those years a refugee Scottish Catholic monastery. This would explain, for example, why he studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, where he was recognized with merit as Dr. "James Aquinas Reid". That the author of our "first national opera" is an alien is a vital factor in our considerations . . . How Chilean or indeed German, is Aquinas Ried? . . . In England left Ried at least two sisters (Cate and Mary) and a promising career as a doctor under the auspices of Lord Wellington. For unknown reasons, possibly political, enlisted as an army doctor coming to the desolate island penal colony of Norfolk, which called "the paradise inhabited by the scum of this earth". He established a system of musical education to reform inmates who, by their success, still remembered in those places. However, frustration was high, accompanied only by a flute and a few books. He tried to take the post of organist of Sydney, to no avail. He also sought ways to make their sisters were installed in these new lands. In Australia Ried always signed his letters as James A. Reid, and we can only know that indeed it is he, for they include mentions of his plans to sail for Valparaíso, and also of a project later finalised in Chile, the opera Valkyria. In addition, the similar style of writing in the letters cannot be ignored. Ried's story in that other part of the southern hemisphere, however, came to an end after some personal problems. After a romance and subsequent "altercation" with the commandant's daughter, he embarked on a whaling ship coming to Valparaíso around 1844. With all these travails, it is hard to think that within a couple of years of arrival he had completed an opera.

Skinner 2011

Graeme Skinner, Toward a general history of Australian musical composition: first national music, 1788-c.1860 (Ph.D thesis, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney, 2011), 147-52 (DIGITISED)

Guarda and Izquierdo 2012

Ernesto Guarda y José Manuel Izquierdo, La orquesta en Chile: génesis y evolución (Santiago de Chile: Editorial Catalonia, 2012) 

Noden 2014, 13, 245, 329-31

Shelagh Noden, The revival of music in the worship of the Catholic Church in Scotland, 1789-1829 (Ph.D thesis, University of Aberdeen, 2014)

[245] [on George Gordon's Dufftown manuscripts] . . . It may be that some works by Gordon himself or other local composers form part of the collection. An instance is the anonymous motet entitled In my Sorrow, the creator of which has not been identified. Two works, Bless the Lord and Veni Creator Spiritus are known to be the work of the Aberdeen surgeon and composer Dr James Reid, brother of Rev. John Reid, and nephew of Rev. Charles Fraser who both served at St Peter's, Aberdeen and were also composers. [note 16] Dr Reid's compositions achieved some popularity in his native Aberdeen and the surrounding area; his anthem Great and Good was performed for the opening of St Mary's, Huntly Street, in 1866 and manuscript copies of his very flamboyant works, including a new version of Adeste fidelis, can be found in various sources.

[13] [On Reid's family] Many of the composers of the music sung in small Catholic chapels in Scotland during the nineteenth century were themselves amateurs, a number of them priests. An instance is the work of Rev. Charles Fraser, who served the Aberdeen congregation between 1830 and 1835. Most of his compositions have been lost but two survive in the Scottish Catholic Archives and are simple, pleasant pieces, well suited to the requirements of small amateur choirs. One of Fraser's successors in Aberdeen, John Reid, was also known as a composer. His obituary - he died of typhoid fever in 1854 at the early age of thirty-five - pays tribute to his achievements as a musician: "He composed several pieces of Sacred Music of great merit and arranged many others for the use of the Choir of St Peter's Chapel [Aberdeen] which under his direction and training, attained so remarkable a prominence among Catholic choirs". [Scottish Catholic Directory 1855, in Gordon 1869, p. 608] Only one piece of church music by John Reid is known to have survived; a Kyrie from a lost Mass. Two sections of this Kyrie - a treble part and an organ accompaniment - exist in the Scottish Catholic Archives as manuscript fragments, dating from around 1850 [SCA LS/11/15/4].

Wills 2015

Rob Wills, Alias Blind Larry: the mostly true memoir of James Laurence the singing convict (North Melbourne: Arcadia/Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2015), 138, 182, 193, 208-09, 323-32, 333-49, passim


"Aquinas Ried", Wikipedia

"Alberto Ried Silva", Wikipedia 

"James Aquinas Reid (a.k.a. Aquinas Ried)", AustLit 

Portrait images
Dr. Aquinas Ried [Reid], Chile, c.1860s
Dr. Aquinas Ried [Reid], Chile, c.1860s
Dr. Aquinas Ried [Reid], Chile, c.1860s
Dr. Aquinas Ried [Reid], c.1850s, in uniform of the Valparaiso German Firebrigade

Dr. Aquinas Ried

Further documents

Henry Curzon Allport, George Street Sydney 1842; State Library of New South Wales

Henry Curzon Allport, painting, George Street, Sydney, looking south, signed and dated 1842; State Library of New South Wales 

Documents 1-9


[9] Letters from James Aquinas Reid (Norfolk Island) to Henry Curzon Allport (Sydney/Parramatta), 1840-1843 (one original letter from State Archives NSW), State Library of New South Wales, ML, MS Ar26:


Letter from James Aquinas Reid (Norfolk Island) to Henry Curzon Allport ([? Parramatta]) (14 August 1840), State Library of New South Wales, ML, MS Ar26/1

Norfolk Island 14 August 1840
My dear Sir,
It is very ungrateful, I must acknowledge, that I have not ere now written to you, whom I have always found to be a man after God[']s own heart, & that is a great deal in this wicked world. Friends are few here below, & we must not slight them, but since my arrival here, I have been kept exceedingly busy, & at first I was in too dull a mood of mind to be much [1v] inclined to letter writing. I have somewhat recovered from my apathy, thanks to occupation, a genial climate, time & above all peace from without - , & can again write to & feel for my friends. I have succeeded here much to my own surprise, at least I think I have. My appointment as Colonial Surgeon is worth only 7/6 per diem, but then I have my Ration for myself & a servant, quarters are as free. I have been very useful to Cptn. Maconochie, in carrying out his new arrangements, (into which I have entered soul & body) - & stand consequently high in his favor. He has [2r] advised me to exchange from the Medical to the Disciplinarian Department, & as a preliminary step he applied for my appointment as his Assistant, which would make me stand at £270 per annum besides the usual extras, & a certainty of promotion in time. When we were both half starved in that infernal machine called the Augustus Caesar, who thought that in so short a time we should have been kicked about as we have been? Little did I then dream of fattening on the good things of this Land of milk & honey. It is truly a heavenly spot this - there is a variety of [2v] scenery, a richness of foliage & a depth of colouring which I have seen equalled no where - it is totally indescribable - oh for a week of your pencil! - as it is I must rest satisfied with admiring & imprinting on my mind what I can't convey to others.

And how is Mrs A - & all the little A's? I trust in God, that are all well - as well as you, my dear friend, can wish them. And I hope, when you are sitting easily round the fire (or the place where the fire ought to be) you will sometimes think & talk of the poor wanderer - who is so lonely! Farewell! God bless you!


J. Aq. Reid.


ASSOCIATIONS: Henry Curzon Allport (1788-1854), artist and painter, a pupil of John Glover. He probably first met Reid on board the ship Augustus Caesar when it departed for Australia in November 1838. Aged 50, he sailed with his second wife, Bertha (BETTS), and six children, his younger brother Joseph Allport and sister-in-law Mary Morton Allport having settled in Van Diemen's Land in 1831. Allport probably earned most of his income in NSW from the agricultural skills Reid mentions in DOCUMENT 2. He worked for the Australian Agricultural Company and was later agent for "General" Edward Macarthur at Parramatta. He was described in Heads of the people (1847) as an "old talented friend from Concord". He gave art instruction to members of the Blaxland family of Newington; and Walter S. Campbell, whose family lived at Parramatta, recollected Allport's weekly drawing lessons at his father's home


"DIED", Empire (6 December 1854), 4

Kevin Fahy, "Henry Curzon Allport", Design & Art Australia Online


Letter from James Aquinas Reid (Norfolk Island), to Henry Curzon Allport (care of W. Howard Bower, Esq. Erin Cottage, Parramatta), 3 July 1841; State Library of New South Wales, ML, MS Ar26/2

[1r] Norfolkisland 3 July 41. My dear Allport, It is long since I have heard from you - not since I have thought of you. in the first place I have to thank you for the kindness you showed me in arranging, at least pro tempore, that infernal Pianoforte Affair - I wish I could think that it was settled for ever; but I cannot help suspecting that my friend Mr. R. C. Gordon (& a countryman to boot!) will seize the first opportunity of annoying me. In the second place I have to call your most serious attention to what follows. We have had a blow up here with one of the chief Civil Officers - a Mr. Ormsby - who has been sent up in the Brig in disgrace (served him right! for he was neither a man nor a gentleman) & he was Superintendent of Agriculture here. The appointment has attached to it a Salary of about £200 a year paid quarterly & a house with six Rooms & very extensive outhouses - a garden of about three Acres in the [1v] finest cultivation possible - a horse (with saddle &c), four servants, found by Government - Rations for self & family according to an Official scale, & at an almost minimal expense, besides numberless other little items. To an honest man it is equal to £600 a year in the Colony - to any other I can't say what; not to mention that there is no hard work - - Farming to be superintended, & rearing of Sheep & Cattle - every subordinate branch being well provided by experienced overseers. The vacancy is almost certain. Now it remains with you to determine whether you will make an effort to obtain the situation of not. Without presuming to advise you, I think it would be an exceedingly desirable position for you. You are perfectly qualified for it. it gives you a standing in the colony, which nothing but a Government situation can give - & a claim on Government for your Children, without in the least interfering with your own private arrangements as to purchase or property or speculation in the [2r] Colony, which could be carried on or set aside as you thought proper. Instant decision will be necessary, & the employment of all the "Court" interest you can get hold of. If you have any key to Sir George Gipps apply to him without loss of time, for no doubt many are on the lookout, & the first claimant will have a good chance. At all events it is worth trying for. Shouldn't I be delighted to see my old friend come here! - what long chats we would have - our duties lie very much together. So much for that. Should you either not apply or not succeed in your application for the above, will you tell me whether you will undertake to be my Agent in future, & on what terms. I know that in Business there can be no friendship, & I wish to relieve Mr. Bower as soon as possible from the trouble. Mind, only in the usual way of things & on no other terms - if it lies not within your view, I must try somewhere else. With best regards to Mrs. Allport & family. I am, My dear Sir, Yours sincerely. J. Aq. Reid.


Robert Cruden Gordon (d. 1863) was a Sydney importer and merchant, and active as an Anglican layman and in benevolent societies, since his arrival in 1838. The nature of Reid's involvement with him and "that infernal Pianoforte Affair" is unknown. In March 1843 the insolvent Gordon and his then partners Clarke and Ogg faced charges of conspiracy to defraud his creditors.

[Advertisement], The Australian (9 March 1838), 3:

"GORDON'S INSOLVENCY", The Australian (17 March 1843), 2:

"DEATHS", The Sydney Morning Herald (4 February 1863), 1:

Charles Ormsby (1798-1868), though apparently not a son of Dublin parliamentarian Charles Ormsby (1767-1818), had previous experience in the Irish Constabulary, was appointed to Norfolk Island with Maconochie in March 1840. After Maconochie dismissed him, he was appointed superintendent of Cockatoo Island. He died at Miller's Point on 30 March 1868 in his 71st year.


"NORFOLK ISLAND", The Sydney Herald (26 July 1841), 2:

"NORFOLK ISLAND", Australasian Chronicle (27 July 1841), 2:

"NORFOLK ISLAND", Australasian Chronicle (14 August 1841), 2:

"COCKATOO ISLAND", The Sydney Monitor (6 October 1841), 2:

"To the Editor", The Australian (18 November 1841), 3:

"DEATHS", Empire (1 April 1868), 1:

William J. Howard Bower (active NSW 1839-46), an artist, was still being described as a "late arrival" when he lectured on painting at the Sydney School of Arts in October 1839. He married Reid's sister Kate (Catherine Ann Reid) at St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, on 15 February 1840. By 1841 they were living at Parramatta. Prior to returning to England in 1846, he held an Art Union to dispose of 28 pictures.

[News], The Sydney Gazette (3 October 1839), 2:

"Mechanics' School of Arts", Australasian Chronicle (4 October 1839), 2:

"MARRIAGE", The Sydney Monitor (19 February 1840), 3:

[Advertisement], Australasian Chronicle (3 March 1840), 1:

"ILLAWARRA TOTAL ABSTINENCE SOCIETY", Australasian Chronicle (14 September 1841), 2:

"UNCLAIMED LETTERS", The Sydney Herald (26 February 1842), 4:

"ART UNION", The Sydney Morning Herald (9 January 1846), 2:


Letter from James Aquinas Reid (Norfolk Island) to Henry Curzon Allport (Kissing Point), 27 September 1842; State Library of New South Wales, ML, MS Ar26/3

[1r] Norfolkisland, Septbr 27, 1842.

My dear friend,

There certainly appears a something fatal to me in the atmosphere of the Pacific. Long and longing were the glances that I cast towards the "Terror" & the "Governor Philip" [sic] after having read your kind letter, for the arrival of the "case" therein announced. I did not know which of the vehicles it might be on board - at last Captain Boyle, in a lucid moment, recollected something about it & and after many narrow escapes in leaving the ship & crossing the bar, beheld the boat along side the quay & the "long lost" in it. Here at last, said I to myself - our landing place is a most [ ? ] [ ? ], & a peculiarly unsafe one besides, in as much as the sea occasionally makes a clean breach over the whole extent, & that without much previous notice - numbers have lost their lives there, nearly a dozen - or more - since I have been here. The "case" at last was in the sling - the last of its trials - it rises - [ ? ] - a mountain of a sea came, the landers let go of the tackle, & down goes the damned [ ? ] to the bottom. It was a trial for my philosophy - some fine fellow dived for it, & in an hour or so it was recovered - judge of its value, especially for the bag of sugar, afterwards an unchemical proceeding. In short the whole of its contents were not worth the tobacco that I was obliged to give the men for picking it up. With the exception of a few quires of paper in the centre of the package, & the tobacco, all the rest was ruined. It is the more unfortunate, as it compels me again to purchase the common necessaries at the shops here, where every thing is charged at a truly exorbitant rate. My shattered finances have no need of such a blow at present to disarrange them - however, there is a kind of providence above, and a ready friend below, somewhere about Kissingpoint - to them I must [ ? ]. But first then to the point of your last. The arrangement with Gordon is decidedly the best, that under circumstances could be made. That I am hardly dealt with, you know, &, I need not say, I feel. Here am I wasting the finest years if existence in paying a debt to two of [1v] the damnedest scoundrels out of Lucifer's black kitchen, for which in justice, I was no more liable than you. But justice and Newsouthwales have little in common. My fingers certainly were cramped when I signed the enclosed bills - cramped with rage, I am afraid too, with hopeless rage. - - I am ashamed, when I see the endless, the infinite trouble you have had in the arranging of my matters, particularly about the parcel of the puppy Waldron, & the unendorsed cheque. It was a great oversight. But our pay was [freed?] at 10 o'clock & the mail closed at 11, so that in the hurry of closing letters it escaped me. If the bill for £2: 2: at Campbells is on Aaron Price, it is correct, but not otherwise, as far as I know. If it should be on any one else, please ascertain the name, & let me know it. I have, as I mentioned above, have been obliged to [ ? ] expenses here owing to the loss of that unlucky box, & even before its arrival, for I cannot live on air. That they are of the most limited possible scale, you may be sure - but with such a drain as there is on my paltry pittance, I am afraid it will be hard to meet all. However I shall leave all these to the end of my letter when the mail will be ready to close, that there may be no after claps. - - The play, which I sent you, is not to be criticised too minutely, it is a musical production, more than a poetical one - & in fact only an outline of what it is intended for - only a few scenes are at all elaborate. I cannot, at times, think, how such stuff could ever find its way into my heard - filled as it generally is with ideas of a far more serious & gloomy cast. The rule of what is regularly called "the contrary" might perhaps throw some light on it. The old General might be made an effective personage, and so might the Doctor. I have lost one [ ? ? ] altogether - it was forwarded to Sydney in a parcel, by a private hand, & was forgotten. I have never recovered it & have only a few scraps of it here - once or twice that we performed it here, it three the free population of Norfolk Island into convulsions of laughter, & altho I sat in the "house" with a very grave face, in a very dull mood, and thinking it very foolish to laugh at nonsense myself had penned, & firmly resolved [2r] therfor[e] not to laugh - still I could not resist the extreme absurdity of some of the situations. It was entitled, The Haunted Mansion, or playing the Devil to win a wife! Since the last time I wrote to you I have been employed in writing one of a higher cast, & on a more extended scale. It is of a mixed character - combining the grave & the absurd - in part historical, in part philosophical. The name "Valkayda" [sic ?, something to do with the Valkyrie legends, he later completed an opera on this subject in Chile]. Had I not expected to have seen you this time I should have been prepared to send you a copy for criticism, for with this I have taken more trouble - but you will see it in time. - It gives me pain that think that there should be any, even the most distant, misunderstanding between individuals of whom I have so high an opinion, & who are to me so near the heart, as you & Bower. Convinced that both mean well, I am also convinced that it must be some unfortunate obliquity of vision, that shows you both the same things in such different lights. We live in the very hotbed of throatcutting & treachery - neither of which are confined to the public criminal - & living thus in the land of the enemy it would be sad indeed if a knot so firm, as I had hoped held us together, should be dissolved, by any untoward mischance. I respect Bower for his warmth of heart, his talents, & his attention to my sister; you I respect, for your generous, disinterested friendship, your manly straightforward conduct, your fatherly kindness to us all, & for - your grey hairs. By dint of being trampled upon, I have learned to know the weight of misfortune, but am always ready to yield to the advice of those, whose knowledge of the world is equal, if not superior to my own & whose judgment is colled by age, distance, & difference of disposition. Let me hope that no coldness may estrange two people, whom I value so highly. I have no intention of leaving my profession, or the colony, at present - in fact the one would be foolish, & the other impossible - Since I cannot leave it, the next step is to ascertain, what is best to be done. I will detail my position to you, as far as I know it, & tell you what I have done - leaving you to decide how far I have acted with the [2v] expected prudence - - Captain Maconochie had promised that my pay should be raise to 10/6 per diem instead of 7/6 as at present. This he failed to perform. Soon after we arrived, he found, that the individual whom Sir G. Gipps had sent with his, as Assistant, was incapable of filling that situation. He therefore recommended him for another appointment, & me for the situation of Assistant, in addition to that of Surgeon. His promises were liberal. I was to have £90 p. annum in addition to my present salary in the mean time; and a certain permanent appointment from home worth £300. Sir G. Gipps refused repeatedly to comply with any application on my behalf, & yet I was persuaded to continue my assistance on the faith of English news. For two years, I worked like a galleyslave - harder than ever I worked in my life before - & never got one sixpence for it. I often plied Captain Maconochie with remembrances, & insisted at last rather peremptorily on a definite arrangement, the moreso, as I felt that to me principally was owning his hitherto success, & that without one, he could hardly proceed. Many transactions, to which I alone was privy, placed him, in a degree, in my power. He must have known from private sources, that the tide was [setting?] against him - & as he found enough to so to keep afloat himself, he determined to throw a troublesome monitor like myself overboard. When people are willing, it is easy to find a cause for quarrelling. The pretext of intrigue between his daughter [Mary Ann] & me, was so shallow as it were ridiculous - the hand of heaven has visited his want of principle strikingly on the old man, in the disgrace of that same daughter with a prisoner of the crown [Charles Packer]. No explanation ever took place between us - the first insulting expression he made use of to me, was the last he had the power to do - I turned on my heel, & have never opened my lips or addressed him except on duty, since that time. He is too old a man & in too trying a position to become the object of my resentment, altho from his since [ ? ] conduct he deserves no forbearance - - I told you before, that the department is likely to be reduced, previously to its final breakage, transportation to having ceased. In vain have I endeavored to find out from Fr. Thompson, what may likely be [3r] my destination - he is an old woman & an opium eater, & seems to take no concern about public affairs. This much I ascertained before the sailing of the last mail, & wrote to you, that the Officer, that would be reduced, might expect two years pay, as a bonus, or another equivalent appointment - This information however, not being official, is not to be relied on. You must have seen the papers teeming with article on the subject of the late attempt to seize the Governor Philip [sic] here. One of these was by its bombastic style supposed to be the production of the R. Catholic catechist of this place, who is remarkable for his flowery & absurd language. He admitted it partly, & was instantly suspended & ordered off the isalnd by Captain Maconochie. The Revd. Mr. McEncroe, R. C. Clergyman, was not a little indignant, and determined to proceed himself to Sydney to lay the case before Sir G. G. He has always taken an interest in me, &, the last time offered me the organ in Sydney for £100, as I told you, he likewise knows the particulars of my treatment here, & to him I have entrusted my case. he has undertaken to exert his influence for me - & I think that to be good - to procure either a change of situation for me from here to the Hospital in Sydney, or another appointment altogether in some distant part of the colony. In the first case, he proposed besides, that my sister might come to Sydney [ ? from Parramatta], & Mary be appointed organist at St. Mary's, nominally, whilst virtually I might still superintend the Choir, without compromising my professional standing. The proposal was considerate, & I think would be advantageous. For I certainly might procure a little practice - my pay would be [earned ?], my quarters sure, & some allowances, such as coal & light & [ ? ] added to what we get here, besides the £100 for the Choir to be divided amongst us, & some teaching, which, I know, I could get for Mary. In the second case, all would depend on the nature of the appointment, & on the district in which it might be. But I told him, that I should wish it to be, if possible, such as would not prevent me from practising my profession, & in such a place where Bower & the girls might join me, & open an academy for the branches of [3v] education they are capable of teaching. Should I be paid off with a Bonus, such would be my proposal, to proceed to some station, Port Philip [sic] or other (& I have written to several clergymen requesting their opinion) & there to settle in private practice, taking Bower [and Kate] & Mary with me, to open an Academy (not a boarding school), & to combine, for all hands, a favor as soon as it could be accomplished. In March next I will have been three years a government officer, & they cannot, readily, get rid of such a claim to future employment. Should you be in Sydney soon after the receipt of this, & should you have an opportunity, you might call on the Revd. Mr. McEncroe at the C. Bishop's, & ask him, if he had any news for me, as he was not intending to return to the Island if Captain M. remained here, & as he might have too much on hand to write to me. The government has sent order, that, if no instructions to the contrary come from England in the mean time, the English prisoners, to whom I am attached, are to be removed to Van diemens land, in March next - & if I could procure an appointment on their medical staff I should like it very much, as from the immense number of prisoners that are being sent there, employment for many years would be certain, & promotion to be obtained by service. You see then, that I am in a glorious uncertainty, yet not, by any means, a hopeless one, to the contrary I am pretty confident that something must be done for me. If you reflect over all the circumstances of my position I think you will approve of what steps I have taken - I shall be sorry if you don't. For the next three months I shall have tremendous duty, as my brother Surgeon is required at Sydney as an evidence in one of the cases of Murder, & as one of the Dispensers has resigned, leaving me one Dispenser to attend to the physical wants of 2000 men scattered over the island - with 2 gaols, 2 hospitals & dispensaries to be visited at least once, if not twice a day, the whole at a distance of about 12 miles from each other. It is very seldom, that I am seen on terra prima, & still more rarely [4r] that my unhappy horse is seen at anything short of a tearing gallop. Lucky for him - & me - that he has the spirit of lucifer. For the purpose of saving time I frequently take a short cut thro' the bush . The island is full of the steepest imaginable hills, & deep ravines, & much intersected with sheep fences. Two days ago, I was in my usual hurry to the second hospital about 5 miles from my starting post; descending the side of a hill with a fence at the very bottom & a rise immediately on the opposite side something in this shape [sketch] and certainly every bit as steep, both hills covered with vines & thick scribe, tearing your knees & your face as you went along. As I was urging the horse to the leap, & lying forward to assist him, a soldier suddenly made his appearance in front - the horse had given a preparatory quick step, was startled, reared & that so unexpectedly, that I struck with the whole of my weight on the pommel of the saddle. I never felt pain before in my life. For half an hour I could not stir, & even yet I have great difficulty in riding. Blood is constantly [ ? ]. An old foxhunter like you must know what it is to get a bruise of that kind. I am tired speaking of myself. You tell me very little of Mrs. Allport, or of little Bertha & all the rest, or of your farm, or your own doings will [ ? ] be more circumstantial the next time? Or do you not think, that I take an active interest in the welfare of yourself and your amiable family? Remember me most kindly to Mrs. Allport, & all the small, but fond pickaninnies. I often recall, in my solitude, the calm of the Augustus Caesar, with the kind old man, & the solicitous mother, & the prattling innocents - &, in spite of all the drawbacks, I sometimes wish it back again. I don't know when or how we may meet again, but live in hope that it may be soon & contentedly - I look forward to the time as the schoolboy to his holiday. farewell Health & happiness to you all! I have written so much, & my arm is sleepy - it is, & all - that I am afraid much of it may be unintelligible - if so, it is the head & not the heart that is at fault, & you will excuse it accordingly.

God bless you all! Adieu!

J. Aq. Reid.


Captain Boyle, master of the Governor Phillip, that regularly shipped supplies to Norfolk Island; the shipment is probably that that departed Sydney on 24 August 1842. Though he may not at the time of Reid's writing have known it, Boyle had good reason to turn to drink, his wife, Rose, having died in Sydney, of a lingering illness, on 4 September.

"DEPARTURES", Australasian Chronicle (25 August 1842), 3

"DIED", The Sydney Morning Herald (7 September 1842), 3

Waldron was perhaps F. C. Waldron, himself insolvent in 1842, or F. W. Waldon, of the Commissariat staff. Aaron Price, originally a convict per Guildford [CHECK], was principal overseer at Norfolk Island.


Letter from James Aquinas Reid (Norfolk Island) to Henry Curzon Allport (Kissing Point), 30 November 1842; State Library of New South Wales, ML, MS Ar26/4

[1r] Norfolkisland 30th Novbr 1842.

My dear friend,

You were "out of sorts" when you wrote to me your last letter. Of all the peculiarities of your character, none ever struck me more forcibly, than your almost feverish anxiety (excuse a professionalism) for the wellbeing of your little ones - &, altho' I am a stranger to the feelings of a parent, I can well understand how the cries & suffering of one of the little innocents must rend a father's heart. Poor little Kitty! I wish I could be with you - for, altho' I do not presume on my own superior ability, I am well convinced of the incapacity of the majority of our profession in the colony. I can forget my own troubles, many tho' they be, - for I am young & alone. But when I reflect on your position, & on the disappointments you have met with - & see the manner in which you bear up against them, I admire your manly spirit, & pray that heaven may spare you, till your children can learn to follow your example. I know full well the value of a government appointment - tho' the salaries be small, they are certain,& one may eke them out by a little private industry. Could I retain my present position, I should not, for the present at least, resign it, but here comes the rub. One of the clergymen, however, the Revd Mr. McEncroe, has taken some trouble about my interest, and I shall communicate his information to you. He called upon several persons connected with the Department in Sydney, & ascertained, that a probability existed of having me confirmed in the medical staff of the Colony, for some time longer at least. After [1v] receiving this assurance, he wrote me advising me, to apply for relief by the next brig (present), when, says he, it is most likely that the present Asstt Surgeon from the Sdyney Genl Hospitl will be sent to Norfolkisland, & I shall be attached to his present appointment.  That would be all I could wish for in the mean time, particularly as in March next the Establishment, to which I belong, is almost sure to be broken up. I have accordingly this time sent in my official application to be relieved (the usual period for service on Norfolkisland being two years) - & of course, I expect a successor by the first Brig. Should I however not succeed in getting confirmed on the staff, some other step  must be taken to provide for the futures. I have written some time ago to different parts of the colony, inquiring into the state of the profession, & the chances of success as a private practitioners, but have received the most discouraging accounts - every where there are more Surgeons than patients, & not one of my correspondents (chiefly clergymen) advises me to attempt such a thing. The English Prisoners, that have been so long under my charge, go to Vandiemen'sland in March - & I have been advised to make all possible interest to get attached to the medical staff of that colony, in charge of the men, when they may be transferred - as in that colony there is seen to be employment for government surgeons for many years to come. If I do not succeed in procuring an appointment under government, I don't know what I may have to turn to, nor is it possible for me, at this distance, to form any distinct plan. I have neither capital nor inclination for farming - of Sydney I know enough not to attempt teaching again - & even if they were to offer me £200 for St. Mary's Organ, I should be unwilling to accept it, as there are so many people to please, most of whom are determined [2r] to be pleased with nothing, that is not Irish or Colonial or otherwise on a level with their limited capabilities. But of this more when we meet, which I hope may be soon. You can not form an idea of the [ ? ] state of feeling such a long seclusion from society, as I have undergone, induces. My horse, the sea, & the sick, & the very world that a busy imagination has created round me here for three years now, been my only companions - & I find such a charm in solitude, that I dread the changes. However the plunge must be made. I shall attack your charges against my idol- Music - as well as your doctrine of "wealth", when we may have discussed matters of  greater importance. I have been favored with a bill from Messrs. Chambers and Thurlow for advice!!!! were I not certain of losing more by defending than by submitting to the imposition, I should refuse payment - but you will be good enough to see what can be done with it. One guinea charged for advice, when "Captain" Lacey (of damnable memory) [ ? ] a threatening letter, the other, when Mr. Ellard chose to saddle me with a debt [constructed by ??? ???] Smith & Watson! So it is not enough to be cheated, but I must pay for this advice  - damn them! - [ ? ] ejaculation, as my [ ? ] got the better of my wisdom. And I am, beside, harassed with duties, [ ? ] returns as evidence in police courts, that I have hardly time to collect my wits as long as write to you. That, tho' my wits may wander, my heart is steady - & clings to the good & the true wherever it finds them - it would take you some trouble to shake me off, now that I have found you, the only genuine specimen of a "man" I have met with, on this side of the line. Will you call on Captn Boyle of the Governor Philip, when you are in Sydney, he has a small box for you, which, I hope, Mrs Allport will accept as a small token of my regard. Remember me to the little ones - God bless them all! - Adieu - Believe me, my dear friend, yours - not in the sense of the world - but in truth.

J. Aq. Reid.

[Then overwrites at 90 degrees] The box of groceries arrived in safety - & was more than welcome - I have no bills nor money to send - and which little then will be, by the time the brig retuned, I shall be able to defray from the sale of my poultry &c - Do you ever see Mr. Templeton?

You mention the bill of Nine Points to "Price" - should it not have been "[name?]". If it is at all possible, I should like that settled before the brig returns - as the later personage is a most insolent brute and one that has before insulted me publicly, & would do it again, if he could - sacrifice the flute, or anything almost rather than [ ? ] it - our pay not due till Decbr 30th & of course the brig [ ? ] back in [ ? ] [ ? ] it is possible it may be relieved. I should above all wish to be able to snap my fingers at such a rapscallion - Do for me what you can.


Templeton is mentioned in several of the letters, evidently a creditor; perhaps James Templeton, of Castlereagh Street, who, for instance, was as trustee in insolvent estate of Signor Dalle Case in 1842.


Letter from James Aquinas Reid (Norfolk Island) to Henry Curzon Allport (Kissing Point), 15 February 1843 State Library of New South Wales, ML, MS Ar26/5 (fol.2r with overwriting)

[1r] Norfolkisland Feby 15/43.

My dear friend,

Once more I have disappointed you - but it is for the best. Believe me it is not from a want of wishing to come - but prudence, the sad jade, won't always [???] with our inclinations. When  I read your last letter (which, by the way, was not till a few days ago, as the brig was 27 days on her passage, [??] of which she spent trying to reach the land after having sighted it!!! & had seen that [Cate ?] was so seriously ill, I made up my mind to come, particularly as, in answer to my application for relief, Dr Thompson had told me, that he would not relieve me, but that he would give me leave of absence. the Revd Mr. McEncroe however, altered my plans. He had some communications with Dr. Th., anent my removal to Sydney Genl Hospt. Dr. Th. writes him, that it is not in his power to do that for me, altho' he expresses his willingness to serve me, - because his department is now laboring under a galloping consumption. In the course of April it is expected, that the English part of our establishment will be broken up, & that about 600 prisoners will have to be removed to V.D. land, whither it is likely that I shall to have [ ? ] accompany them  - as being peculiarly attached to them, & having the oldest & best claim for the service. In that case, I would be recommended by the Sydney Govt. for an equivalent appointment in V.D. land - to them a cheap way of providing for me, & to me no disagreeable exchange. In V. D. land there is a certainty of employment & promotion for medical officers for many years to come - & once there [1v] it will be my own fault if I don't succeed. I was thus officially permitted to leave, privately advised not to do so - at least at the present juncture, &, as the good I could do to my friends would be limited to condolence, or the gratification of our feelings, & a considerable outlay, I thought not a moment about it, but, as a matter of course, resolved to abide the result. May it please providence to enable me to serve those whom nature & inclination alike incline me to serve. I send you a check on the Commissariat, which you will please to apply as usual, to the appeasing of the two sharks, that swallow incontinently all my substance? Is there no getting at the bottom of their gizzards? I have not heard from Templeton for some time - nor do I wish to - as long as he is silent, he is, no doubt, gorging on the fat of the land, or rather on the produce of my perspiration - is it not a bad tooth, or stumpy, that keeps up the irritation in Mrs Allport's gums? Or was it only incidental to her condition? sympathetic? I wish I were on the spot. May she have a safe & happy delivery & recovery! - - What a bungling business Peck made of that cask of potatoes, that I had sent to Bower. Old Boyle has been drunk every time he came onshore as yet, & I have had no opportunity of getting on board, so that I cannot learn anything here about the fate of the unlucky [murphies?]. I am the more sorry for their miscarriage, as it cost a great deal of trouble to get them on board at all - & I had to bribe old Boyle with some fruit - bananas &c before he would [2r] take them. You remember the bunches of Bananas we used to have hanging about the decks at San [Sago?]? we have abundance of them here, but they will not keep for Sydney  - the fruit would not doubt do so, if pulled green enough - but we seldom hear of them reaching without accident. I wish I could send you some sketches of the very peculiar, & fairy scenery of Norfolkisland. Many spots I have seen - much that is grander - more varied, more luxuriant - much that exceeds our landscape in every one of its individual traits. But such a combination I have no where seen. If from the [ ? ] sketching of an unpractised pencil, assisted by such verbal explanation as - this is a tree - this is a rock - that a palm - so you could form an idea, I should have no objection to furnish [ ? ] you with such as I could. The tints or shade of color / I cannot express myself secundum artem & and are what I should despair of arriving at [ ? ] not the least wonderful part of the enchantment, & thus I wish you were here for a month - would it not be happy one!

Please to pay Tingcombe & Watkins, Parramatta, the sum of £5/10/11 1/2 for Mr. Jas. McGregor. You mention having sent me some [ ? ] some time ago - I never received any. I have written to [ ? ] for a few trifling, but indispensable articles of clothing, which please to settle for. In the article of wearing apparel & boots I destroy a great deal of capital - as I am required to be on horseback in all weathers & at all hours. In that respect my position is the worst of any on the island - I average upwards of 20 miles day for day - as regularly as the posthorse, to the no small detriment of cloth & leather. How is little Bertha? & all those sturdy youngsters that were the life of the Augustus Caesar? If I turn farmer in will you give me one of them to help me? Poor little fellows [overwrite] God bless them - may they follow their father in uprightness and manly rectitude, & for the rest there is no fear. Remember me kindly to Mrs. Allport, & sincerely hope she is doing well. You will be able to ascertain whether the ships for our removal have sailed before the brig can return or not - if so, of course, send neither letter nor anything else until I write to you - which, I shall do, of course, with the first opportunity. - Few things would make me as happy as to meet with you once more. It is not likely to be at present, but surely before long fortune will change her frown into a smilt? Whether the fickle gypsey smile or frown, believe in your sincere.

J. Aq. Reid.


Letter from James Aquinas Reid (Norfolk Island) to Henry Curzon Allport (Kissing Point), 17 April 1843 [State Library of New South Wales, ML, MS Ar26/6]

[1r] Norfolkisland 17 April 1843.

My dear friend,

The last mail brought me letters from everybody except from you - I assure you the disappointment was not felt the less, that it was not the first time. But from my sisters letters I soon saw, that you had matters of importance to attend to at home. Providence has been pleased to support your partner thro' this trial likewise, as thro' many previous ones may it be pleased to restore her to you in her full vigor, & to preserve the young addition to your family! You & yours should be happy, if the wish of a poor fellow mortal should have any effect.

Since I wrote to your last we have had His Excellency here. He came about as unexpectedly as the late Comet - & left us every bit as enlightened as to his intentions or even future intentions. It any thing can de depended on, however, it appears for the present that we are not to be sent to V.D. land - whereto however is a mystery. So much seems certain, that the Establishment will be reduced, if not broken  up about August or September; till then, I fear, I must stick to my post, unless I should willingly sacrifice every claim to remuneration for the past, or unless something very decidedly preferable should present itself. Something of this latter kind has indeed been proposed to me, by Rev. Mr. Platt, whom I suppose you have heard my sister talk about. He returns to Sydney by this opportunity - & wishes to serve me. You will have heard that Duncan has been dismissed from the editorship of the Chronicle - [1v] there appears likewise, to be no chance of an adjustment being brought about with him. The idea is to give me the editorship of the paper, joining those [ ? ] to the management of the choir - reaching [?] between them something about £400 a year. It is impossible for me to say anything on the subject until I hear whether the situation be not both filled, or what [ ? ] [ ? ] be proposed to me. Depend upon it I should do nothing rashly, not to injure Duncan, nor without consulting you, in the coolness of whose judgment I have reason to have confidence.

I enclose a cheque for £29: 13/- which from friendship you will please to dispose of to my best advantage. One bill of £4:4.10 is payable to Tingcombe in Parramatta, and another of £5:6:7 to J. Thorpe and Co. Pitt-street Sydney. I hear that that [ ? ] of a boy, R. C. Gordon has failed. I suppose it will not affect my last bill to that firm, which becomes soon due? Not having received any tea or sugar these last several times, I am run aground, & shall have to purchase here. Will you send me as much of both as you think prudent, or as my funds will admit of, without interfering with my shark,. Mr. Templeton. Also a small quantity of Allspice, pepper, mustard & tobacco, for all which I pay here exorbitant prices. As I have three servants to feed, [ ?] considerable quantities of tea & sugar, particularly my old servant has begged of me to forward several [ ?] which he has got made out of his savings, to Sydney, for sale - [2r] I have sent them to Bower in a case, in charge of Mr Platt, desiring them to forward the case to you, as it will answer for sending the things down to me, that you may procure for me. If the flute is still stafe, & if circumstances don't require that it should be sold, I should like it back again - it is a great comfort, in such a place as this. The case is strong, & is made for containing my bedsrtead & bedding, so be sure to send it, even altho' empty. I had very gratifying letters from my bosom friend  in Germany - My old companions have dispatched a case of books & music & trinkets for me which I expect every day. It is to be shipped by Holte [check], general agent, London, but to whose caree, or in which ship, I don't know. if you should heard anything of it take hold of it at once - as in this land of thieves such things soon change their destination. If I should be both to lose such a [ ? ] - if anything like a satisfactory proposition is made to me with regard to the Chronicle & the Catholic Choir, you may confidently expect me by the next opportunity. Mr. Platt will be able to let you know as far as that is concerned. If on the other hand, my movements depend on Govt, they are quite uncertain. I may or may not be [ ? ] - I wish the former - for the place is getting rather threadbare now, & were it not that I have resources within myself, I should be a miserable animal indeed in such a desert - morally speaking. Believe me, I long sorely, again once to clasp the hand of an honest man - here we have but knaves nor fools, I except neither free nor bond. Remember me most kindly to Mrs Allport; & the little ones. May God bless you all, & grant that we may meet again - soon & sound in mind & body. Three years' solitude has given me an appetite for society. Addio! Il tue fedele.

J. Aq. Reid.

[Overwritten at 90 degrees] My German friends have begged me to collect insects &c for them. Will you ask [the] youngsters in their rambles to bring home all beetles, moths, butter flies, wasps, or [snakes ?] that they can find - fix them in rough paper boxes with pins & keep them from the dust with a little bit of camphor about them to keep away weavils. I have begun [ ?] & have succeeded pretty well. If a bird or any curious animal is offered for sale, buy it for me if [ ? ] able - cockatoos or native parrots particularly - (of course I mean stuffed ones). I should wish to make the collection as complete as possible.

P. S. I forgot a ball of cotton [ ? ] for making [ ? ] - & a small jar of vinegar - if you could send me a jar with vinegar for yourself I could return it full of pickles - of which we have abundance & variety here.


Joseph Platt was a Catholic priest, who had arrived in Sydney by May 1840, and had sailed for Norfolk Island in November 1842.

"MARRIAGES", The Sydney Herald (4 May 1840), 2

"DEPARTURES", The Sydney Morning Herald (11 November 1842), 2


Letter from James Aquinas Reid (Norfolk Island) to Henry Curzon Allport (Kissing Point), 1 July 1843 [State Library of New South Wales, ML, MS Ar26/7]

[1r] Norfolkisland 1 July 1843.

My dear friend,

I have to acknowledge the receipt of your kind letter May 30/ accompanied by a cask, contents all safe. Fortune is a slippery jade. Oftentimes has she played me tricks with my cases, parcels & letters. This time, the great folks of our island - our church & state Superintendent, as he is worded, a parson, wished, as usual, to him the first catch of all the good things. Accordingly, as soon as the mail was landed, a boat was dispatched to bring their valuables on shore. But Neptune has devilish little respect for persons - his High Mightiness- & his Holiness rank not with him, above the veriest beggar of us all, Sans ceremonie, the boat emptied itself of all its contents on the bar, &, for once, pateince was rewarded. To prevent my future trouble I sent a permit, but it is of very little value without the favor of the Commissariat- Waldron will always be able to pass anything. I have condensed business on a separate sheet. The idea of editing the Chronicle, & conducting the choir at the same time, did not emanate from myself - it was proposed to me. I did not consider myself justified in throwing such a proposal unceremoniously overboard, without entering fully into its merits & convincing myself, & those [1v] who had suggested the scheme, of its impracticability. I never expected, & in truth, never wished for a satisfactory result of the negociation. As I expected, it is now broken off for ever. In the last year & a half, we have lived in hourly anticipation of some change in the establishment here - the shameful supineness of Govt. alone has drawn this period of uncertainty out to four years. That change, however, must soon take place, as many of the prisoners on our "system" are nearly free. So far we have distinct, semiofficial information that we are all to be transferred to V.D. land. What have I to expect from that change? Two things - either a continuation of my present appointment, or a transfer to a similar one in V.D. land. Promotion is, at all times, difficult to be obtained & without interest at court impossible. You have painted my position in stronger colours than I would have done! you say "it is hard I should waste my life & talents in a manner so painfully and hopelessly depressing" .. you talk of my "removing to Hobart Town or some other place, where these vampires cannot reach you" - in short you have hit the nail on the head. But will they not reach me in Hobart Town just as well as in Sydney? If I want to escape from them, I must take a wider start, must open a new field. Ever since I foresaw the failure of Captn Maconochie's attempt, I had made up my mind to change the [2r] scene of action - not however before the final closing of the drama, not until he should be removed & his establishment broken up. I occupied a prominent position in the starting of the scheme, thro' my exertions it reached the summer of its development, & now, when by his own folly it has been blighted, & when he would gladly see me retire in disgust that he might lay some of the blame on me - now I feel it my duty to face it out to the last. No other consideration could have induced me to remain so long in my unenviable & trying position. But a denouement must soon take place, & [then/tho' ]  it weere folly to wait for this time at 7/6 per diem - one half of which is to be swallowed by an utterly hopeless claim, the other barely sufficient to procure decencies of life . No. 1, I neither can, nor will remain in such a position. At the same time I assure you I have no wish to relinquish my profession. It is now that I must look to it for relief. The difficulty is, whither to turn. Believe me, long, seriously & anxiously have I weighed the matter over, & in brief I submit the result of my reflections. It is impossible for me to do more than merely exist in my present, or any analogous situation, as long as I am compelled to pay the demand of Ellard. 2/ but as long as I remain in these colonies, I shall be compelled to pay it - because he had the law of the question, I merely the justice - 3/. therefor it is not desirable [page] that I shoul continue in such an appointment, longer than my credit may render it necessary - even supposing, that I could insure such appointment, which is in itself apocryphal, 4/ It is impossible for me to commence practice in the colony, a/ because it is overstocked, b/ it is bankrupt, c/ I have no capital, d/ no connection, e/ am not scoundrel enough to succeed amongst scoundrels. 5/ Whither turn? a/ England? … not without extricating Bower. b/ India? as medical man, hopeless, overstocked, appointments from home & by interest, as "bandmaster" certain of lucrative employment - but certain likewise of yellow fever and cholera morbus. c/ United States, [overstocked ?] with a disreputable class! [ ? ?] d/ S. america? easiest of success, & people with whose habits & ways of thinking I am familiar, who lack enterprise & industry - but who lack not money, nor liberality - where medical men are exceedingly scarce & much respected, as I know from undoubted [authority /]

You see the conclusion I have come to. It remains only to [ ? ] it. As soon as the destination of our establishment is known I shall be ready to start - or even sooner if a favorable opportunity presents. I wish to engage as Surgeon with any ship that may be crossing the Pacific. But as they seldom carry passengers enough to require a Surgeon, I presume that [2v] part of the passage money would have to be paid. I could not embark from Sydney, as Templeton, no doubt would arrest me, if he was aware of my intention. I have [?] opportunities of embarking from here occasionally, whalers call, many of whom would be glad to get a surgeon even for a few months, [???} they are almost all Yankees, & pass by Valparaíso, where they would drop me. As far as Bower is concerned I think it would be better if he could stand his ground until I have proved the way for him on the other side. For to tell you the truth, I think that his prospects in the colony are even worse than my own. If I were once there we all might be useful to each other in the way of trade - at all events if the place should not be favorable there would be less harm done by my being there, than by his dragging the girls with him. [???] they are all Catholics; the Spaniards are of a[???] spirit with the Italians you know how many churches & convents they have, & [? ? ?] full of paintings & pictures they are. In my opinion there could be no doubt of ample employment for an artist of modest talent there. The country is wealthy & populous, but education & knowledge are at a high premium [say?] late London papers [see ?], that of all the S. American Govts, Chile is the only one that has been punctual in its engagements, & whose credit [comes quietly/ gently ?], stands as high as that of any European state. A very good feature in a young country. In order to prepare myself [3r] for an extended exercise of my profession, I have requested Mr. Platt to procure some new, important works for me, which you will please forward to me, paying him for them. Altho' it would not be unnatural to suppose, that the change, the prospect of adventure might have some share in my determination, I assure you, that, on the contrary, I would rather avoid embarking on a new field, if I could see any prospect upon the old one - but I do not - neither will you, if you look at it calmly, & as long as I have done. It has occupied me for two years - not a rash determination. If you can hear of any vessel going on a trading voyage by way of the [ ? ] or Otaheite [sp?] to S. America, make a bargain with them - let them call here. I will provide potatoes, pork & poultry in almost any quantity & for very little, & accompany them myself . . . It is more than probable, that before the brig returns or immediately after a vessel from Hbt town will be her, or I might them have to remove to there for the present. I am preparing everything to be ready at a moments notice, & not to be troubled by any unnecessary luggage. As I shall require funds in any case of removal, I shall feel obliged to you if you can forward to me thro' Mr. Farrell, of the Commissariat, who returns hither, all the few pounds that you may have of mine, in gold. If you are in Sydney, attempt to pacify Templeton for one quarter, there is no falsehood in telling him that the times are bad, & that I shall have to assist Bower. Should the [Overwrite] latter be in danger - of course [aspiration ?] as far as my means will allow. By the enclosed circular you will see what scoundrels we have to deal with! I hope you keep the receipt of these damned swindlers - what has been paid, & is lost, but if any bill remains due, let it remain, as I presume no immediate step will be necessary in the matter.

I have no doubt wearied you with talking of self, but at a [ ? ] like the present there is no help for it. The philosophy of your letter I entirely concur on. I cannot tell you how I long to have an evening's chat with you - here I am surround with people bigots in Religion, bigots in politics, or hypocrites, selfish hypocrites in both. It gives me pleasure to see by the tone of your writing, that your energetic mind is under all difficulties the same - & that whilst your head is as cool, your heart is as warm as ever. Remember me most kindly to the mother of your dear young ones - in my solitary evening rambles along the roaring Pacific I often recall the cabin of the Augustus Cesar - you & your family are singularly mixed up with my fate since my last departure from Europe. May we soon meet again - richer in [ ? ] & not poorer in friendship. God bless you all! Addio.

J. Aq. Reid.


Letter from James Aquinas Reid (Norfolk Island) to Henry Curzon Allport (Kissing Point), 24 August 1843 [State Library of New South Wales, ML, MS Ar26/8]

[1r] Norfolkisland Augst 24.43

My dear Allport,

One more epistle from the rock of banishment, may it be the last - for if existence is to be purchased at such a price as I am now paying for it, it is a dear bargain. I received your kind letter & accompanying leather, books &c in safety . In the acct. of the leather, the kangarooskins are charged at 6 shillings - & both in your & in Platt's letter they are stated at 26 - how are these to be reconciled? The medical books Platt has procured altho' certainly similar to the ones I wished for, are all editions of old date, & contain none of the latest discoveries in science, which are of such importance & for which I particularly wanted them. One, "Cooper's Surgical Dictionary" is the same edition as I had already, the "Pharmacopaeia", however, is worse than that, for instead of being the newest edition, it is of 1826!! nearly as much use as one of the fifteenth century. I therefore return it. if you can by any means procure for me the newest edition (1840 or 41) of the London Phamacopeia, do not neglect to secure it for me - any but the latest is of no use whatever - one of the glass graduated measures I likeiwse return - two of the same kind having been sent. I asked for a middle sized silver catheter - & an elastic gum one is sent, three of which I already have - but there is no use in grumbling - professional matters ought only to be entrusted to professional people. I must wait till an opportunity offers of otherwise supplying the deficiency: - By the enclosed document you will see, that there are still more enemies on the [1v] coast. Of this one I was not aware - As I thought I had paid up all long ago. Bower will be able to speak to the subject. - if a man's affairs are in the hands of trustees, surely he does not write concerning them himself? is it [covering / name ?] intent to defraud his creditors, by frightening me into paying himself? This, as other matters, I must leave to your friendship, not knowing what resources you have in hand. I recd. from Mr. Farrell [?], Joseph's watch & five sovereigns - which latter, I presume, came from you - but I can see nothing relative thereto in your letter. - With regard to Ellard & Gordon, I feel no scruple of conscience. The debts to neither are just - the transaction with the former particularly, was a piece of swindling in concert with that consummate scoundrel C. H. Chambers - &, if nothing else were against me at the Grand tribunal, but the nonpayment of these claims - my account would be light indeed. This melancholy subject brings me to another part of your letter - the opinion you express of my attempting my fortunes in S. America. Things at present stand thus with me - or rather with us. Capt. Maconochie has recd a letter thro. S. G. Gipps from Ld. Stanley, intimating that he is to be relieved by a Captain Childs [KC / &c ?], who is to sail "forthwith". The dispatch is dated 3d March - what his Lordship's "forthwith" may amount to is hard to say - but the matter has been so long in hand, [that ?] & the general information is so decided, that it can hardly be a long period of time. As soon as the said "Marine" arrives, the English prisoners at present on the island, are to be removed to V.D.Land. I have a natural claim to accompany thme - & if on no others terms I should be almost tempted to throw up my appointment [2r] rather than be confined here any longer. At all events, they cannot refuse me leave of absence, after four years service. Hitherto ships have been in the habit of calling here pretty frequently, as the Superintendent encourages traffic - in future such visits will not be tolerated except in cases of necessity, as hertofore, so that starting from here will be out of the question. From Hobarttown I have no doubt of procuring a ship by some means or other, if on my arrival there things do not wear an aspect brighter than at present. - It were hopeless into a disquisition on the merits of the "New System" of prison discipline which is proposed - it is a most consummate absurdity - but, be that as it may, the influx of prisoners which it will produce, will demand an addition to the medical staff. Should this addition be adequate to the demand, the officer at present in service will, of course, have every chance of speedy promotion. The appointment of "Surgeon" is worth - with perquisites - about £500 pr annum - with a probability of such an advantage, it were folly to run away - & therefore, I can only decide upon my future motions after the arrival of the new Superintendent & after my more intimate acquaintance with the intentions of Govt. The first step is decidedly to reach Hobarttown - the second I must decide on there. Rashness is not one of my sins - & if it is at all possible, I shall avail myself of your advice & experience before taking that second step. For the consummation of the first, I am looking & longing like a lovesick maiden - & can you wonder at it? without society, without friends, without amusements, without books - with no consolation but the midnight lamp & the Music - the [chances / charms ?] of these even bedimmed by anxiety about the absent - I live the life of a vegetable more than an animal. There is hope [2v] that it will have an end - & that hope is worth all Peru. - With regard to birds & curiosities - give yourself no trouble about them - you have too much already. I forward a case of all I can collect, to be left at the Commissariat stores - for the present, until an opportunity occurs of forwarding them to Europe. My german friend, "Dr. Joseph Schuch" (only five consonants to one vowel) - gave me the name of his Agent in London - a Mr. "Hollste" [?] - unfortunately the address was written over the seal of the letter & the street & number were torn off in the opening, so that Mr. Hollste [?] can be of no service in the business. The only alternative appears to be, to leave the case in the store in Sydney, until you can hear of some person proceeding to London to whose care you can intrust the box, requesting him, to ship it according to address on his arrival in Europe. If any expense is attached to the first part of its journey from here to London, I must find means of defraying it - after that Mr. Balde [?] will be responsible. The specimens are carefully packed, & are not likely to be damaged by delay - but I am anxious enough to forward them to their destination. So do not forget them. - Remember me to Mrs. Allport & the young ones - may heaven spare you both to protect them for many a day! Would to God my power was equal to my wishes! But he [?] that feeds the raven [?], will not neglect helpless innocence. - - - I have no cheque this time [?] & altho' the date of our removal is quite uncertain write as usual. - I have made all necessary arrangements about my letters &c. I have written this in midst of a great confusion of official papers, returns &c &c so that it is likely to be unintelligible - Bower can explain, if you can only manage to keep the sharks of me for a few months longer, I shall [do /so ?] - a clean pair of heels, are no disgrace against such unlawful odds! Adieu! Adieu! My head is muddled bu my heart is steadfastly true to you & your [ ? ] [ ? ]

J. Aq. Reid.


Dr. [Franz] Joseph Schuch (1808-1863), a Regensburg naturalist and ornithologist; see:

A. E. Fürnfrohr, Naturhistorische Topographie von Regensburg … Erset Band (Regensburg: G. J. Manz, 1838), 65

See also:

"Ellard", is Andrew Ellard, musicseller, who, on returning to Ireland after trading for only a year in Sydney, had sold his business to the partnership of Reid, Jeremiah McCrohan and George Smith by January 1840.


Letter from James Aquinas Reid (Norfolk Island) to Henry Curzon Allport ("Near Sydney"), 23 November 1843; State Library of New South Wales, ML, MS Ar26/9

[1r] Norfolkisland 23 Novebr. 43

My dear friend,

In [? ] my disappointment at not hearing from you by the last opportunity, the more so as I am afraid of [ ??? ] incurred another loss [ ? ] my sister Cate talks of certain articles which she hopes will reach me in safety. All enquiry was vain, & nothing had been shipped for me [ ? ?] appears the only remedy. In my letter to Bower I have detailed my plan of operation, so that it will be more easy here to recapitulate. There can be no question any longer that by remaining here I am neither benefitting myself [ ? ? ? ?] granted, it follows, of [ ? ] that to leave the place under any circumstances, becomes imperative. Go where I may, or, in whatever capacity, less than nothing I cannot make of it - & have all my labor, & all my earning amount to - nothing! The prospect of looking forward to a servitude of 10 or 12 years as assistant Surgeon, exposed to the constant annoyance of my swindling, selfstyled creditors, is not a very cheering one, yet such is [mine ?], even at the best. [1v] As I am not in possession of your distinct address, & as, moreover, I wish to have whatever money I can for processing my passage hence with any ship that may call, I have not forwarded my pay of this quarter. If you bought any things for me on the strength of my last letter, you may still forward them, as in case of my departure Mr. Farrell will take charge of them & see them safely returned. The first time you are in Sydney, please call at the Commissariat wharf. You will there find a case of natural curiosities, which I had intended to forward to Germany by the first opportunity. Since I am not on the spot, nor in a condition to pay the freight it must be over [?]. I am informed that the address has been rubbed off. it is of no consequence in the mean time - but I should wish, that you would find a dry corner for it amongst your old lumber, perhaps on a future day, it may be wanted - - We have had great doings here - Unexpectedly a Commission was sent down [?] to try sundry capital charges, which had been lying over for some time. A man with a hooknoes & a bobwig, y cleped for the nonce, "a judge", and a porpoise with a carbuncle nose hight [?] "Crownprosecutor" were accompanied by 4 officers of H.M. 80th Regt of Foot. The [ ? ] arrived on Saturday, & on [2r] the following Tuesday the first case, one of murder, was to be tried. On the night of Monday, I sat studying about 1 or 2 AM - when a loud rap was heard at my door - a servant called me to one of the officers quarters - & when there, I found the whole jury assembled - one on the floor, another fill length on [ ?] - another vomiting - another fighting, & my patient bleeding from a cut in temple & speechlessly drunk. Yet these gentlemen need [ ? ] to try a fellow being for his life within 10 hours of such a scene as I have described. Poor human nature! how it makes one blush for thee! - - - The criminal was a very bad character - in the legal phrase. yet did I do my utmost to save his life, & have the proud consolation of having done so. You will see the trial in the papers, "Francis McManus for stabbing the [?] Mr. Wholagan, or as he is known here "Mr. Howlagain" [?]. My evidence contradicts, in direct terms, that of the other two surgeons - & had the person been provided with counsel, would have brought him clear from the bar. But of all the mockeries of justice, which it has been my misfortune to [? ] this was the most complete & most painful one. The prosecutor - Fisher - is a superannuated debauchee - the judge, Purefoy, an absolute tyro - the prisoner had no counsel to defend him, the jury consisted on ensigns & lieutenants, whose brains, at no time bright, were additionally ob[?]bilated with the [ ? ] of their boundless potations - & object as the prisoner would [1r overwritten] to any of them, he had no redress - his objection would not be sustained. Talk of british justice after that! It belongs to the things that were! I have incurred the odium of many members of our community for having spoken so freely on this occasion. If you hear the story of the unfortunate youth, it would make your heart bleed - three of his family have died an ignominious death - & he has several times narrowly escaped. He has been a prisoner since his 10th year & has received upwards of 5000 lashes - & it sickens one to detail the amount of cruelty inflicted by the [ ? ]. I cannot tell you how my blood boils at the scenes I have to witness - but I have accumulated a mass of facts & anecdote, which in due time shall be made public, without much disguise - for I detest a tyrant be he big or little, from my very soul. Four men have been [ ? ] fr execution - whether the sentence will be carried into effect or not, will depend upon the caprice of that most capricious nonentity the law - & the humor, good or bad, of His Excellency Sir George Gipps, Knight - may the Devil make his bed! I long to [ ? ] the [ ? ] Pandemonium - to hail once more the face of an honest man - to be delivered from the annoyances of the contemptible fry, that, under human shape, covort around me, empoisioning the very air we breathe with their damnable breath. - I must close - for [1v overwritten] I have to ride to my duty - the vessel is under weigh - & will be gone 'ere [ ? ], the signalman has just announced another ship in sight - that is always an event of interest here. Pray do not neglect to write to me by first opportunity - altho' I may be off, it will be taken care of. Remember me most kindly to Mrs. A - & the family. The strange vessel is said to be a whaler - but I cannot delay any longer altho' I should like to talk long enough. If you see Mr. Platt, remember me to him. God bless you all.

Yours sincerely,

J. Aq. Reid.


"LAW INTELLIGENCE. NORFOLK ISLAND COMMISSION COURT", The Sydney Morning Herald (12 December 1843), 2 

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16. Francis M'Manus, a convict under transportation for life to Norfolk Island, was indicted for stabbing one Daniel Whologhan, at the Police Office, Norfolk Island, on the 17th October, with intent to murder him . . .


Letter from captain Alexander Maconochie (commandant, Norfolk Island) to Dr. J. A. Reid (Colonial Assistant Surgeon, Norfolk Island), 28 July 1843, with enclosure, letter from Dr. Graham (Colonial Assistant Surgeon, Norfolk Island) to Maconochie, 26 July 1843; State Library of New South Wales, DL, Add. 109/2-3

Documents regarding convicts at Norfolk Island collected by Sir William Dixson, 1 April 1840-28 July 1843; (a) = item 3, Letter from Maconochie to Reid; (b) = item 2, Letter to Maconochie from Reid's colleague H. Graham

[1r] Colonial Asst. Surgn. Reid

Norfolk Island Norfolk Island 28th July 1843.


The indulgences extended by you to Prisoners in Longridge Gaol have recently appeared to me so excessive, especially when contrasted with the character and offences of the men receiving them, that I addressed a letter a few days ago to Dr. Graham, requesting him to [1v] inspect the Gaol and Men, and say whether he thought them necessary. And I beg now to enclose you his reply.

On it I might, perhaps, issue a position Order on the subject; but the point is one in which I would not wish unnecessarily, or if I can avoid it, to interfere with a Medical Man's discretion - What is really indispensable to sustain health, I would, indeed, even wish to extend, though it were at some expense of discipline - But having at present no moral, or persuasive [2r] stimulus of any sort to apply to the men, it is particularly inconvenient to me to have the Prison made an object of no apprehension whatever, and I would earnestly beg therefore that you will in future be as little as you possibly can, especially for men of the extremely bad character of those now in Longridge Gaol - The New Hands there are each worse than the other, and McManus has shewn [2v] himself but the other day ready to abuse any indulgence.

I am, Sir, Your Obed. Servt.


[enclosure 1r] General Hospital, Norfolk Island July 28th 1843


In compliance with the request contained in your letter to me of the 22nd Inst. That I would communicate to you my professional opinion relative to the state of the Cells in Longridge Gaol, and the health of the Prisoners confined therein, also as to what indulgences are absolutely necessary beyond the Gaol diet and regulations, in order to preserve their health. I have the honor to inform you that I yesterday visited the Gaol, and found six prisoners under confinement, each having a separate Cell, one sentenced for twelve months, and the remaining five for three months each; I was informed by the person in charge, that all of them were allowed out for an hour daily, and also full ration every second day, by [enclosure 1v] order of Dr. Reid, and that such indulgences are extended to all prisoners confined there, after the first month of their sentence had expired. I examined several of the Cells, and found them perfectly clean and well ventilated. The air of that in which the prisoner McManus was confined, was as pure as that in any of the others, although he had not been out of his cell for ten days, the usual liberty having been lately denied him, in consequence of his having assaulted the Gaoler. He now even appeared to be in good health. The remaining five Prisoners, three of whom were then walking together in the Stockade, also appeared to be in good health, and not in the least degree to have suffered ill effects from confinement.

From the appearance therefore of the Prisoners and the peculiar construction of the Cells, which are large, and well calculated to admit of sufficient ventilation at all times, I am of the opinion that the practice pursued by Dr. Reid is quite unnecessary, in every case: I am further lead to think so, as I do not find such indulgences necessary at the Settlement Gaol, the Cells [Enclosed 2r] in which are very inferior to those at Longridge. There are many more at present under sentence on bread and water in the former place, who have been there for some months and have never applied to me for any addition to their diets or permission to walk in the Stockade, excepting three, who were a few days weeks back transferred from Longridge Gaol, at which place they had been allowed the usual privileges and diet &c by Dr. Reid, and expected the same on coming to the Settlement Gaol, but as they appeared to be in good health, and admitted they were so, it was of course denied them, and the application has not been repeated.

I very rarely find it necessary to interfere with the ration allowed to Prisoners in the gaol, beyond ordering a meal to be made into Hominy instead of Bread, the former being more palatable and nutritious, and generally preferred by them, And occasionally I have found it necessary to allow some, after several months confinement to walk in the stockade, for an hour twice or three times a week. If a Prisoners really becomes ill by confinement I remove him immediately to Hospital, and into the Hospital ward in the Gaol [enclosure 2v] allowing him such diet as I think his care requires. This latter practice is very similar to that pursued by the medical officers in the Colony, there is no interference with the ration of a Prisoner sentenced to Solitary confinement on bread and water, unless he becomes actually sick, when he is immediately removed to Hospital, or if under a long sentence he might be allowed out by himself for an hour two or three times a week, as his case seemed to require.

I have the honor to be, Sir, Your obedient huml Servt.

B. ? Graham Col. Asst. Surgeon.


Short biography of [John] James Bushelle [Bushell], ? in hand of James Aquinas Reid (undated, c.1839-43); State Library of New South Wales, Dixson Library, MS Q 168/4, pages 1-9

From Norfolk Island convict papers, ca. 1842-1867 (a collection, apparently made by Reid, of convict memoirs, mostly in the hands of the original authors), all but one of them on Norfolk Island. The exception is no.4, a short biography of the convict-musician John Bushelle [James Bushell"], told in the third-person, in Reid's handwriting, presumably taken down by him from Bushelle's dictation in Sydney in 1839, or reworked from a letter sent later to Reid on Norfolk Island]

[1] James Bushelle [sic]

This man was the son of Benjamin Bushell of Limerick in the Kingdom of Ireland merchant; and of Miss Butler, of a respectable family in the County of Tipperary. He had an uncle Mr. John Bushell, who went early in life to Spain; and succeeded in forming a commercial establishment in Alicant and other parts, of considerable importance. On revisiting his native country about the year 1800 after an absence of many years, he formed a commercial connection with the Mr. MacDonnells of Dublin, then at the head of the commercial body in that city; and established the very respectable firm of MacDonnells, Bushell & Co. of Broad-street Court, London; at the same time keeping up the several establishments in Spain, as branches of the London House. This firm were agents for Several Banking Houses, and commercial firms in Ireland; and because of their Honorable dealings, of great eminence in the mercantile world. Mr. John Bushell having married a Miss Lynch of Galway, after a romantic and a [2] protracted courtship of twenty years; being both rather advanced in years, and no prospect of a family; in consequence he sent for his nephew James from Limerick, then a child of three years old, this was about 1812, to educate him and rear him up as his intended heir. With this view, he spared no expence in giving him the best education which London could afford; and having resided in Queens Square, Bloomsbury, he had an opportunity of moving in a genteel circle of professional and commercial neighbours; and of cultivating and improving his manner.

When James had arrived at a certain age, his indulgent uncle, not wishing to spare any expence in giving him a polite, as well as a solid education, sent him on a tour to the continent, to acquire that finish and easiness of address peculiar to France & Italy; he also provided him with means to employ the best masters in music and polite literature; he soon became a proficient in music, and spoke and wrote [3] the French, Spanish, Italian, and German languages, coreectly and fluently with the accent ? of a native, and acquired some other accomplishments.

In the course of his travels, he met a Frenchman , who noticing the youth and good addresss of the young Bushell, immediately fixed his eye upon him, as a very likely person to prove a useful companion in his future pursuits. This man was a broken down gambler, who had spent a fortune at hazard in Paris; and now was in quest of other games, to replenish his coffers; he easily inveigled Bushell under large promises, to adopt his schemes; after some further unsuccessful efforts at gambling, he persuaded him Bushell to accompany him to London; to cheat the Diamond merchants, by substituting mock, in room of real diamonds; by dexterity and by attaching gum to their fingers. He spoke to Bushell in the shops in London, in German; and introduced him as a Polish prince; and that [4] he himself was his Tutor. They carried on a successful trade for some time; but were at length discovered; when the Frenchman fled with the booty, and left Bushell to bear the burden of several prosecutions for stealing Diamonds, upon which he was found guilty; and forwarded to N.S.Wales for life.

Upon arriving at N.S.Wales he was forwarded with other Specials (a name given to educated convicts) to Wellington Valley, a distance of about three hundred miles from Sydney in the interior; where they were obliged to proceed on foot through a bush road; so unlike the mode of travelling he was accustomed to in Europe; and held under a very strict surveillance. In this solitary residence, his youth and acquirements enabled him to bear up under his great reverses, but after some time, when that establishment was broken up, to make way for an aboriginal establishment; he was recommended for the most distant penal settlement, Moreton Bay; [5] five thousand hundred miles from Sydney on the northern coast, subject to all the horror of the most rigid penal discipline; his overseer having reported him of being possessed of atheistical principles, and therefore unfit to be suffered at large in the colony.

Here he was under the necessity of drawing upon his [???] acquirements to obtain some relaxation; the military officers in charge of the settlement, hearing of his knowledge of music and the languages, gladly availed themselves of this opportunity of irksome leisure, to impose themselves; he became a great favourite, and taught them music, dancing, drawing, fencing, and French, Italian, Spanish, and German languages to their great delight, better than those branches could be taught in London at the public schools. He now made a happy exchange, from an excess of severity, to an excess of kindness: a convincing proof that a penal settlement is not, nor ever was, what it is intended to be, a place of [6] of reformation of convicts. [A]fter remaining here a considerable time, he was recommended by the officer in charge as deserving of some indulgence; whereupon he was removed to Port Macquarie, formerly a Penal Settlement, but thrown open to settlers, where there was still kept up an Establishment for Invalid Convicts, and f0r specials, which gave it the appearance of a demi penal settlement, with a Police Magistrate, and an Ironed Gang, [ ? ] the streets of the Town.  Here Bushell commenced instructing the Young Ladies both married and single, in music, dancing, French and Italian, and shortly established a social intercourse among the newly arrived Emigrant settlers, hitherto strangers, who met occasionally to enjoy the pleasures of a German waltz or a Spanish quadrille in this recent excavation from the Forest; where hitherto the sound of music, or the voice of merriment, had never been heard, [7] where no sounds, but the cooee and howlings of the Black Man, the groans of the convict under the excruciating lash, or the creaking of the wild cockatoo, ever pierced the skies, or disturbed the ambient air.

He was soon after [ ? ] to a settler about seventy miles distant in the Bush, to instruct his young family; where he remained until the period of eight years were expired when by the regulations he became entitled to a Ticket of Leave; for the purpose he obtained a pass to proceed to Sydney, where he fell into good practice as a musician; he became leader of the choir at St. Mary's Cathedral; taught music in private families, and instructed the military bands. He got certificates of good conduct from all those persons; but Governor Bourke would not grant him that indulgence; having referred to his character on the books, and found the charge of atheism, affixed to his name, he was therefore [8] obliged to undergo a further probation of twelve months at Port Macquarie, under strict surveillance over his conduct.

After this period he returned to Sydney, and resumed his former occupations; and appeared as an amateur in several concerts where he established himself in public estimation, as a vocal and instrumental musician.

When he obtained his certificate he married Miss Wallace, a vocalist of some celebrity in Sydney, together with whom he now enjoys a high reputation as a musician among the Sydney public.

It remains now to shew how this young man got the odious epithet of atheism attached to his name. It seems that on becoming acquainted with the Frenchman mentioned above, that wily politician found that he could not make his dupe subservient to his views, without first sapping the foundation of religion; he then might [ ? ] himself could he but accomplish that, he could have him [9] at his [ ? ]; for this purpose he set his hellish engines to work to accomplish that detestable object; in the polite and fascinating language of France and Italy, he infused into his unsuspecting [ ? ] that French philosophy best known in England as French principles, meaning these poisonous seeds disseminated by Voltaire and his school, [ ? ] upon [ ? ] upon religion, and government, which [ ? ] in the anti-Christian conspiracy, and in [ ? ] the Altar and the Throne. Bushell spoke freely upon these subjects among his companions, and hence this most unpleasant appellation. It would however be a gross libel upon education to suppose that it leads to atheism; when the contrary is known to be the fact - true science and religion go hand and hand; because they are indisputably founded upon truth itself, from which source they each derive their information; for which reason they uniformly concur in confirming each other; it is when education received a wrong bias, by losing the [ ? ] of religion [10] or, being as in the present instance, undermined by peculiar principles, that [ ? ] becomes a prey to atheism: and scoffers therefore take occasion to conclude that education is inimical to religion, and leads to Atheism! whereas nothing can be more [ ? ] than such an unsupported conclusion!


See main entry on John Bushelle and family

Bushell appears in Australian sources as both John and James; perhaps James was his baptismal name, and he later chose to go by John, the forename of his uncle and adoptive father; after his marriage in Sydney in 1839 to the soprano Eliza Wallace, sister of the composer William Vincent Wallace (who had lived in Australia 1835-38), he appears to have preferred the style "John Bushelle". Bushelle died suddenly and unexpectedly in Hobart in 1843. Though a convict, Bushell was never imprisoned on Norfolk Island. Reid probably had the information on which he based this manuscript direct from Bushell himself in Sydney during 1839, while Reid was director of music at St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral, and Bushell a member of his choir. Convict records confirm the veracity of Reid's account of Bushell's movements in Australia.

MacDonnells, Bushell and Co.; from 1814, the partnership consisted of Myles and John MacDonnell and John Bushell

See "LONDON DIVIDENDS, Gazette, November 4", The Law Advertiser (10 November 1831), 390

In December 1818, "a commission of bankrupt was issued against John Macdonnell and his partner Bushelle"

See "LINC. INN Septemb. 4. 1821, Ex parte TAAFFE and another. In the matter of MACDONNELL and BUSHELL", Cases in Bankruptcy 1, 111-12

The firm was again bankrupt in 1831

See also "RESULTS OF MEETINGS. November 29", The Law Advertiser 9/49 (8 December 1831), 437

John Bushelle appeared at the Old Bailey, London, on 13 September 1827, before Mr. Justice Gazelee; case 1628:

Charged with:

stealing, on the 15th of August , I diamond pin, value 5l.; 1 diamond brooch, value 15l.; 2 diamond rings, value 20l., and 3 seals, value 3l., the goods of John Mainwaring , in his dwelling-house.

The Frenchman is probably the person referred to in the Old Bailey transcript as "Mr. Perren, a foreigner", well known for 8 years by one witness, "a Frenchman", who "could not speak a word of English", and had had returned to England with Bushell in "June of July". In the first instance, Bushell was found not guilty.

Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 13th September 1827, 639-40

On the same day; case 1639:

Before Mr. Baron Vaughan, James Bushell [sic], was indicted "for stealing, on the 22d of August, at St. Anne, Westminster, 1 watch, value 10l., the goods of James Ely, in his dwelling-house". According to Ely:

On the 22d of August, the prisoner came into my shop with another person, having the appearance of a foreigner; the prisoner entered first, and asked to see some gold bracelets and ear-rings, which I showed him; the bracelets were not handsome enough, and he asked to see the ear-rings, which I showed him - they were gold; he selected five or six pairs of gold ear-rings, and requested I would take them up to No. 37, Baker-street, Portman-square; he gave me the name of James Butler […]"

(According to Reid, Butler was Bushell's mother's maiden name, and he himself later gave his son John the middle name Butler.)

The prisoner deposed (reading a prepared statement): At the latter end of June, on my return from France, I came by Dieppe to Brighton, on board the steam-packet. I entered into conversation with a Frenchman, who had all the appearance of a gentleman, with whom an intimacy was soon established; he told me he had already visited England, and had some acquaintances in London, but had no knowledge whatever of the English language. I immediately offered my services, and we came to London together; on our arrival we put up at the same hotel, from whence he requested me to accompany him to Giraudier's hotel, in the Haymarket, where he said he had lodged before; he then inquired for Mrs. Giraudier's brother, who had served him as an interpreter during his former stay in England, but was told that, from a situation he now occupied, he was prevented from acting in the same capacity; then, and not till then, did he propose to me to act as his interpreter, promising to remunerate me for my loss of time; I acceded to his request, and then he confided to me that he was by profession a jeweller - that his object in coming to England was to inform himself of the price of every article in that line; after which he intended to have a large quantity of French jewellery brought to England if the prices suited - thus we went about to different jewellers, where he always contrived to employ me in writing what he dictated, which prevented me from observing his proceedings: he now and then begged me to act as if for myself alleging as his reason, that a Frenchman asking the price of English jewellery, might excite suspicion, as every article was much cheaper in France than in England; and his being a foreigner would induce them to ask a larger price; this was so plausible, I did not hesitate to do as I was told. In the course of a fortnight he gave me a ring to pawn; and on expressing my astonishment at his being obliged to resort to those means, he replied, that not receiving remittances as he expected, he found himself short of money; in a word, he accounted for every thing in so natural and plausible a manner, that I am convinced any person in Court would have been deceived as I was. I shall now proceed to the cause of my apprehension. I went to Mr. Norman's with the Frenchman to pledge a diamond pin. Mr. Norman informed me he had received positive information that two persons, answering our description, had committed robberies to a large amount, and that he was obliged to ask me how I became possessed of the diamond pin. I translated what he said to my companion, who immediately took flight, while I remained astonished at his sudden departure. Mr. Norman begged me to give my name and address, which I immediately did - and said he would make inquiry if I returned in a quarter of an hour. I offered to remain while he made these inquiries; but he told me it was not necessary. I returned in a quarter of an hour, and he said, in consequence of information he had received, he felt it his duty to give me in charge of a constable; but on seeing my companion was absent, he told me to bring him with me. I went to three houses where he was in the habit of going; and not finding him there, I was going home, and, near my own door, I met Mr. Ely and another man, who called upon me to go before a Magistrate. I accompanied them without the least hesitation, and have not since seen the Frenchman. Perren was again identified. This time Bushell, aged 21, was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 13th September 1827, 649 (649) (650) (651) (652)

PARDON: HO 13/50, National Archives, Kew, London.

John White et al Pardon George R Whereas at the Sessions holden at the Old Bailey in September last the following persons were tried & convicted of the Crimes hereafter mentioned & had Sentance of Death passed upon them for the same viz John White, Robert Martin, Catherine Conjuet, Harry Hale, Thomas Ferry, James Davies, George Ballard, William Cain & Henry Rogers of Housebreaking; Sophia Gunyon, William Goodrich, Charles Hendrick, Richard Barnett, Geo Nelson, James Bushell, Sarah Elliott & Thomas Knight of Larceny value £5 in a dwelling House; James Gardner of Larceny value 40/- in a dwelling House; Timothy Dogerty, William Ramsdale, Ambrose Blackford, John Riley & Edward Reed of Highway Robbery: Harry King of Robbing near the Highway: Thomas Sacket & James Langham of Robbery from the Person: William Watson, Charles Hawkins & Thomas Heffield als Brown of Horse Sts; James Southgate of Stealing Sheep; Margaret Cavenagh & Ann Lynch of Traitorously colouring base coin; George Haig of Uttering a forged order for payment of Money & William Penny alias Buckly of feloniously being at large before the expiration of the time for which he had been sentenced to be Transported. We in consideration of some circumstances humbly represented unto Us are graciously pleased to extend our Grace & Mercy unto them & to grant them Our Pardon for the Crimes of which they stand convicted on condition of their being ^severally Transported to New South Wales or Van Diemans Land or some one or other of the Islands adjacent for & during the Term of their respective Natural Lives: Our will & pleasure therefore is that you do give the necessary directions accordingly: And for so doing &c.

26 Novr 1827 He is the James Bushell transported on the Phoenix, which sailed from England on 4 March 1828, and arrived at Sydney on 4 November 1828.

James Aquinas Reid, letter to Thomas Naylor, 30 January 1842, pages 2 and 3; State Library of New South Wales

Pictured above are pages 2 and 3 (fols. 1v-2r) of Reid's 8-page letter of 30 January 1843 to Norfolk Island's Episcopalian chaplain, Thomas Naylor; State Library of New South Wales; as transcribed below, it is an extraordinarily candid record of his affair with Mary Ann Maconochie. Reid entered his own highly emotional account in the right colunm of each page, while in the left he presented a series of 10 extracts from Mary Ann's communications to him.


Letter from James Aquinas Reid (Norfolk Island), to the reverend Thomas Beagley Naylor, 30 January 1842; concerning his relationship with Mary Ann Maconochie, quoting extensive extracts from her letters to him; State Library of New South Wales, Dixson Library, MS Doc. 188

Norfolk island 30 Jan'y/42

Reverend Sir,

As you have had the Charity to visit me in my Affliction, & as I think that independently of your Character as a Minister of Religion you will be impartial and willing to listen to both sides, I take the liberty of addressing to you the following lines in justification of myself & vindication from some of the Charges at least, that have been brought against me in a paper from Capt'n Maconochie read to me by you, in a letter received by me this morning, & orally through yourself. I have no hope of allaying the anger of the above named gentleman by anything I may advance, but feel it due to myself to lay before you the facts of the case by which I think it will appear that I am not altogether so culpable as is taken for granted.

[Extract I in left column, transcribed at foot of letter]

I am in the first place charged with having worked upon Miss Maconochie's feelings by tales of distress. Let the annexed extract from a letter I received from her in July/40 tell, how far that can have influenced her, confessing as she does that long before I had addressed a word or even a thought to her, she "preferred" me, & that I "engrossed all her thoughts." The seed of all my misfortune is contained in the annexed; "the secret must remain with ourselves" has been the poison that has undone me. Repeatedly I attempted (as will appear in the sequel) to break there the charm, but was always opposed by [1v] her; but I anticipate.

[Extracts II and III in left column, transcribed at foot of letter]

A considerable time after our first understanding I received the fragments of a private journal, kept as I was told, before I had declared myself, & even before my attachment was directed towards Miss Maconochie. From these & the following note, Extract III, which was written about a week after our first explanation, it appears clearly that she harboured a strong passion in her own breast, before she even dreamt of a similar return on my part, & certainly before I "worked upon her feelings by tales of distress." _ As for such tale, her own expression of misery, & suffering, & her complaints about the coldness & harshness of the world, her distrust of life, her despondency, were as present & loud as my own; I surrendered the proofs in her own handwriting to you; & surely a person who confesses that "every day since we left the Nautilus I have watched for you" - has no right to turn round upon me & to charge me with having worked upon her feelings with [? lies] of any kind. _ True, she was only [ illegible ], but she was old enough to feel or to feign a passion the most ardent & pure, & certainly from education & judgment she was much older than many others who are nevertheless considered capable of being disposed of in marriage. The eagerness with which she afforded me opportunities of seeing her prove that she was no passive agent in the [2r] transaction.

[Extracts IV and V in left column, transcribed at foot of letter]

A few months afterwards being afraid that Captain Maconochie would not succeed in his benevolent efforts to serve me here, & that I would never extricate myself from my present difficulties by retaining my present position, I offered to withdraw my claim & desired her to think it well over before she answered me. The adjoining extract speaks for itself. _ So hopeless had I considered my position, & so determined was I to break off the connection, that I had actually prepared to quit the Island with the "Hope", & was only prevented from doing so by the opposite letter. _ in the end of October, same year however, still seeing no prospect of an advancement before me, & thinking that by removing to another part of the world I might better myself, I again mooted the subject, but was again induced to give up the idea by the letter of which the opposite column contains the matter under "Extract V."

These words are the free, voluntary, un-asked for declaration of everlasting [2v] attachment to me of the part of Miss Maconochie; - not solicited by me, but delivered in the most solemn manner in reply to a desponding letter of mine, in which I stated a wish to leave the island as above alluded to. - I shrink from making any comment.

I am charged with having "corrupted her Principles, & having made her life a lie to her Parents". - What could there be of "Principle" in a person who whilst she was writing to me in the strain above quoted (& she has done so for upwards of twelve months) could at the same time, as you tell me, declare to her Mother "her utter abhorrence of me, & say that my very sight was painful to her"? what, I ask, was there to corrupt in such a person, & how did I corrupt her? has she not proved herself doubly false, both to me & to her parents, and has she not ultimately, after duping me with hollow professions, thrown me on the world, the greatest sufferer by her duplicity? _ As for her life being [? made a lie] to her Parents, it is not [ illegible ] blame only is to be charged. From the first moment to the last of our intercourse she urged the absolute necessity of secrecy & of patience; of waiting for better days before disclosing our correspondence. _ I have often felt, & now acknowledge myself culpable, highly culpable in having carried on an intimacy with the daughter of [3r] my most disinterested benefactor without making him acquainted with it. In palliation I have to plead, that having once given way to the temptation it grew upon me, & having repeatedly intended to break the matter off, it was allowed to recover. But on two occasions, I strongly & distinctly urged the propriety of disclosure upon Miss Maconochie, & on both was peremptorily overruled by her. One was when Capt'n Maconochie addressed a letter to me on the subject of discontinuing the lessons I had been in the habit of giving her; the opposite column contains an extract from her answer. It is written under great excitement - in parts scarcely legible. _ _ I had given her Capt'n Maconochie's letter & the sketch of her answer drawn out in accordance with the above strong injunctions to silence (& I am ashamed to confess, not without some strong misgivings that I was wilfully misleading him) & the principal part of her reply is contained in No. VII.

[Extracts VI and VII in left column, transcribed at foot of letter]

_ _ Who receiving such letters as these last two, & possessed of any spark of natural feeling, would not let himself be led from the path of what he might find as his strict duty, _ would not be willing to "wait for a year?" Alas for me that I did yield, alas - alas that I did rely!

The other occasion was on the arrival of yourself as Chaplain to the [3v] Establishment. That a desire to unload my mind was haunting me appears from the fact that you had only been three or four days on the island when I proposed to take you into my confidence. _ This was again objected to by Miss Maconochie _ _ _ but I shall quote her own words as opposite, under Mo. VIII.

[Extracts VIII, IX, and X, in left column, transcribed at foot of letter]

You tell me that Miss Maconochie asserts that she has returned the greater part of my letters to her; she has undoubtedly done so; but Extract IX will explain the grounds on which she returned them; it certainly was not with a view to breaking off the correspondence. Else why continue it afterwards; why keep it up to the very latest hour? even on the day before the discovery of the correspondence I received a note from her; & on last Sunday morning a long letter of four pages crossed [i.e. overwritten], ending with "good night _ _ God bless thee! sleep well & soundly _ _ _ thine ever-loving - doating - affectionate Mary." _ You tell me that Miss Maconochie asserts that I reproached her with coldness latterly; _ _ for the last eight or ten days we have scarcely even seen each other, & I did ask her why she seemed to avoid me more than even necessary; her answer was uniformly that she had so much to do at present, but never once did she hint at [4r] being offended or tired of me; one word that nature could have sufficed to remove all pretension to intimacy on my part. But up to the latest moment she kept me in the firm belief that she considered herself pledged to me in the most solemn manner before God; she never retracted, or asked to withdraw her vows registered as quoted above, & as entered in a Bible which she gave me; what could I then think when on yesternight you told me, that she had publicly disavowed all these most solemn & binding assurances? _ _ I scarcely know what I am writing, still less why I am writing. It will convince no one, for no one will listen to me; it will not restore the peace of the family, which I have assisted in destroying, it will not rescue me from the depths of misery into which her duplicity has plunged me, throwing me on the world without resources, without a friend & in a mood of mind but ill prepared to meet such hardship. _ _ To you, as the friend of the family, I address myself, not with any view to present advantage, but in the hope, that when minds are cooler, & the first pang has worn off, you may be able to prove that I have been heavily sinned against. _ I admit to the fullest extent the impropriety I was guilty of in concealing a matter of such consequence for so long, particularly under my peculiar circumstances; I have always felt it, nor can anything palliate it, unless it were that I was influenced in spite of my better judgment by the participator of my guilt. Miss Maconochie has no fortune, it could therefore be no mercenary motive that induced me to aspire to her hand, & the difference in rank of life was not such as to make my wish amount to a crime. If I "trepanned her into a clandestine engagement" (which I cannot admit) it was more her doing that it was clandestine than mine; more than once I intended to leave the island, more than once I urged the propriety of disclosure. Am I alone then to be blamed for the unhappy result, am I to be called "villain" & "monster" _ _ & to bear my own share of the guilt as well as that of her, who not only deceived her parents in common with me, but has also carried on a series of deception on me, the unhappy victim of her duplicity? For what else was it to be inducing me to believe by language of the most tender, serious [4v] religious description, that she stood pledged to me "for better for worse," whilst that the same moment, as you told me, she was execrating me to yourself & her parents? surely, I who was the sufferer, am not to be blamed for that? as why should I be blamed for any thing that a woman who could be capable of such want of consideration also might be capable of! _ _ _ I repeat, that I do not want to excuse myself, my guilty concealment I freely, candidly admit, _ none can regret it more, as none suffers so much from it. All I want to show is, that whilst in some things our guilt is equal, in many her portion of it far exceeds mine. My greatest offence has been ignoble poverty. I request that you will compare the extracts I have made with the originals in your possession, certify to their correctness & destroy the whole correspondence keeping the Polyglot Bible for any reason you may think fit, after extracting or defacing the writing on the flyleaf & boards.

I have the honor to be, Reverend Sir, Your obedient servant, J. Aq. Reid, C. A. S.

* * *

Extract I. (from the first letter I ever received) . . . "Need I acknowledge [what] you must have seen, which for [illegible] has been torture to me to [. . . ? confess] I loved you. - - I have [illegible] once or twice, but could not realize the feeling of being loved, & was fearful of betraying myself. The secret must remain with ourselves, & we must be cold & formal before the world with the happy consciousness of being one in heart." _

Extract copied from Mary Ann Maconochie's journal; James Reid, letter to Thomas Naylor, 30 January 1842, page 2; State Library of New South Wales

Extract II _ _ Mon Journal. _ _ _ _ [as pictured immediately above]

"Extract III _ _ _ Monday nearly a week ago _ _ _ can it ever be forgotten? _ _ _ In looking over the past I find I have loved you even longer than I thought; I do not mind owning it now _ _ _ ever since we left the Nautilus I have watched for you every day, been embarrassed in your presence, tho' indifferent to every thing unless it related to you. I have kept as my greatest treasures until now, your signature to all notes I could find - every thing you have touched I looked at with peculiar interest." _

[2r] Extract IV _ _ _ I could not write to you last night; _ Captain Simpson dined here; _ _ In your long letter to tell me, "to consider well before I answered you" - was I to consider between - "your giving me up for ever" - & remaining as we are _ ? I stood in the way of your advancement, if I thought you could love another & be happy in forgetting me, I would not say a word against it; _ but no _ no! it would lead us both to an early grave. _ _ _ you must not say such a thing again _ _ would I hesitate an instant, would I weigh the advantages as a thing that is bought & sold? _ I should be unworthy of being loved; I have sworn before God to be yours, _ & can it, will it ever be repented of? _ _ thou art mine _ alone _ for ever _ _ my only comfort & hope _ _ did I doubt thy love, Point Ross should be my grave!" _ _ _

Extract V. _ _ Thou wilt not again talk of leaving me; if it could shorten the time before we can be united I could submit. _ _ as soon as you have a fair chance, I will be yours, & in four years, _ if it is not possible before, _ come what will, I will be yours. _ _ Oh should I make you [ illegible ], what an account should I have to render at the bar of our Almighty judge! _ _ God was with us today - I am thy wife as sacredly, as much in the eye of Heaven, as I ever can be. _ from this day forth thou art mine! _ "I, Mary, take thee, James, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness & in health, to love, cherish & obey, till death do us part!" _ & now, James, I am thine, _ on my knees have I written this, on God's book have I solemnly sworn it! now, have I not a right to share thy fate whatever it may be? _ _ _ Can I [2v] ever forget this night _ the 13th Monday of Life, of Happiness, _ can I be ever more your own? _ _ _ I feel the full solemnity of the oaths I have just now taken _ | oaths too often disregarded! _ no can I wait with Patience for the time, when it may please God to unite us before the world, _ for in His sight I can not be more your own. _ _

[3r] Extract VI. James, my own husband! I have just been with Mamma & she says she wants [? us/me to] give up our lessons _ _ a word must not be breathed about our engagement, _ _ _ as far as possible explain all to Papa _ but not a work of loving me. _ _ _ we must wait as patiently as we can _ but that must not be now. _ _ whenever thou askest for me from Papa _ no engagement must be mentioned _ wait till we hear from England _ & get some definite news _ & do not venture to throw thyself on Papa _ _ Rely upon thy wife - she is all - only - ever thine own Mary! _ _ _ now not a word of living me or caring for me! _ _ _ now do not say a word to Papa! _ _ _ _

[Extract] VII. _ _ _ Papa's letter, it is like himself, though a [ ? ] of Mamma now & then. Papa may think his long string of objections insuperable, I am very far from doing so; _ Religion is the one one amongst them I admit as an objection at all, & even in it we are much more of the same opinion than people fancy. _ _ _ I am very glad now it was determined not to speak to Papa about it _ _ from his letter any application to him now would be entirely hopeless. I could not help myself _ give thee up, no power on earth could make me do! _ _ _ _ _ much better let it be quiet, for at least a year _ _ _ & I do not expect any very decided objection when the crisis comes _ _ _ & do not fancy any thing they can say will ever have the least effect on my opinion _ I have sworn to be thine _ & thine I am for better for [3v] worse, in joy & sorrow, in prosperity & adversity - in life & death, time & eternity - only - wholly - ever thine - thy wife! . . . it is very had to be forced to give up my treasures, but I must . . . to avoid all probability of proof of our engagement or rather marriage! . . ."

Extract VIII _ _ _ it would be a fearful storm & worse calm after it; & poor Papa! I would easily bear Mamma's fury and consider it as such deserves; but she would influence him to her views, whatever his might be, & it would be much harder to bear his sorrow _ _ _ fortunately, we should have Mr. N [Naylor] on our side, for he says it is no use in any parent refusing _ _ but his ideas & opinions would not materially help us _ I am thy wife for ever _ to live for none but thee _ never to love any but thee _ &, if it should please God to put obstacles which we cannot over come in our way, will live in the remembrance alone, none other shall ever call me his, & I will die with the hope of meeting thee, thy undisputed wife in a better world! _ _ _ _ It is fortunate that you put those ? ? after such a sentence - "thou shouldst wish it?" - what should I wish? to forswear myself, to forsake him, whom in the presence of the most High God I have sworn to love, honor & obey? _ _ never, _ never! it would be hard to cause a doting father sorrow, but nothing should alter my determination, - do not think thy Mary so weak, so sinful _ they could not make me cease to love thee.

Extract IX _ _ _ what more immediately affects me, I must give up my treasures; I cannot destroy thy letters, and I cannot keep them; any moment in the day that Mamma chose to ask my keys I would not refuse them, & it would be all discovered _ anything is better than that at present! _ _ _ were my parents to know just now, we should be separated, with very little chance of ever meeting again _ do take them, my own _ own husband _ do!

Extract X _ _ _ I am quite willing to entertain the subject of Religion, but I think it better left till I have more leisure after Cate's marriage. _


". . . to quit the Island with the 'Hope' . . ." - It was reported in Sydney early in September that the Hope has been chartered by the government to take stores to Norfolk Island; see "Shipping Intelligence", Commercial Journal and Advertiser (5 September 1840), 2 

It finally sailed on 23 September, and returned to Sydney in the middle of October.

"". . . that you [Naylor] had only been three or four days on the island" - having accepted the chaplaincy, Naylor arrrived in Sydney from Van Diemen's Land in July 1841, en route to Norfolk Island.

"". . . till I have more leisure after Cate's marriage" - Mary Ann's younger sister Catherine Maconochie (b. c.1824/5) was engaged to be married Captain Hill, of the 99th Regiment, who was serving on Norfolk Island.

The recipient of the letter, Thomas Beagley Naylor (1805-1849) was an Episcopalian (Anglican) priest who emigrated to Van Diemen's Land in 1834. There he was headmaster of the Queen's Orphan School, attached to the Church of St. John, New Town, from 1835 until he resigned in 1839, after a disciplinary dispute with his deputy, John Offar. He certainly had earlier contact with Maconochie in Hobart Town, where, in 1839, both of them served as elected vice-presidents of the Mechanics' Institution. He served under Maconochie as chaplain at Norfolk Island from 1841 to 1845, after which he was incumbent at Carcoar, NSW, and briefly incumbent at St. Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney, before ill-health forced him to return to England. He died on the homeward voyage.

See "OBITUARY", The Gentleman's Magazine (February 1850), 219-20

Naylor was also a prolific amateur artist, and the National Library of Australia has a number of his sketches of Norfolk Island, see

His papers include, at National Library of Australia, correspondence concerning King's Orphan Schools, Tasmania

The State Library of New South Wales has a commonplace book, letters, &c, including material written on Norfolk Island, both by Naylor and others (SL-NSW DLMS 134 & DLMSQ 363, see

Naylor was also author of:

"A TALE OF NORFOLK ISLAND", Chambers's Miscellany of Instructive and Entertaining Tracts

This concerns the seizure of the brig Governor Phillip on June 21, 1842, by convicts, its re-capture and the subsequent punishment of the criminals", Chamber's Journal (1845).

He was also author (his name incorrectly transcribed as J. Beazley Naylor, of a letter:

"To the Editor", The Australian (10 September 1847), 3

Three of Naylor's sons remained in Australia (six other children returned to England). Two sons worked as Government clerks on the colonial goldfields, and both were charged with embezzlement, Thomas Beagley Naylor (junior) in Castlemaine in 1862 (he was sentenced to four years on the roads), and the youngest son, Alexander Maconochie Naylor, named after the commandant, at Bathurst goldfields in 1871 when he was charged with embezzlement. Perhaps Reid (and/or Packer) also taught his children music on the island.

James Aquinas Reid, letter to Thomas Naylor, 30 January 1842, page 8; State Library of New South Wales

Pictured above, the final page (page 8) of Reid's letter of 30 January 1843 to Norfolk Island's Episcopalian chaplain, Thomas Naylor, with Reid's signature at foot; State Library of New South Wales


[James Aquinas Reid = ] Aquinas Ried, "Streiflichter auf die Verbrechewelt; Erlebnisse auf der Norfolk-Insel"; ed. in Keller 1927, 65-82


[66] [Note, Keller] Um 1830 kam Dr. Aquinas Ried als englischer Militärarzt auf die Norfolk-Insel bei Neuseeland. Die Insel wurde damals von schweren Verbrechern bevölkert, die dorthin deportiert worden waren Ried verweilte sieben Jahre auf der Insel und hat seine Erlebnisse auf ihr nachfolgender Abhandlung wiedergegeben. Vergl. dazu die Lebensbeschreibung auf S. 4 f.


[67] Die Norfolkinsel ist nur ein winziges Stück Erde, könnte aber diese lieblichste aller Inseln das Tageslicht in die dunkeie Seelenwerk-stätte ihrer unfreiwilligen Bewohner leuchten lassen, so würde diese Offenbarung weit gräßlicher ausfallen, als die schauerlichsten Träumereien des spitzfindigen Hamlet. Während mehr als dreißig Jahren war die lnsel der Kehrrichtwinkel, wohin aus den Gesängissen der australischen Kolonien alles als unverbesserlich betrachtete Ungeziefer geschafft wurde. Unter diesen taufenden, wie viele mögen den Um- ständen zum Opfer geworden sein, wie vieie dem Verrat, dem augenblicklichen Aufwallen einer Leidenschaft, - wie viel Material ist da nicht zu Grunde gegangen, welches in dem Bau des großen Tempels menschlichen Fortschrittes zu verwerten gewefan wäre, hätten es die Bauleute nicht bequemer gefunden, den Stein ganz zu verwerfen, als ihn kunstgemäß zurecht zu meißeln! Wieviel Honig ist hier zu Galle geworden, wieviel menschlicher Champagner liegt verkorkt und versauert in dieser Flasche, woraus fogar die Hoffnung verdunstet ist!

Die Inslel wurde von dem Weltumsegler Cook entdeckt, und dieser hellköpfige Beobachter hat, nach einem Aufenthalt von wenigen Stunden, eine so genaue Befchreibung derselben hinterlassen, daß man auch jetzt noch wenig dazu hinzufügen kann.

Das Klima ist semitropisch, und wegen der ständigen Passatwinde, und der gelegentlichen Regenschauer äußerst angenehm und gefund. Die Fruchtbarkeit des Bodens ist der Art, daß sich der üppige Pflanzenwuchs bis an den Meeresstrand erstreckt, und die Wellen sich unter dem Schatten der überhängenden Zweige brechen, und aus der ganzen Insel keine handbreit Erde zu finden ist, worauf nicht etwas Grünes zu fehen wäre. Die merkwürdigste botanische Erscheinung auf unserer Insel ist jedenfalls die nach ihr benannte Tanne, welche sich schlank und fymetrisch, bei einem Durchmesser von 18, bis zu einer Höhe von beinahe 200 Fuß erhebr. Nirgends sonst ausder ganzen Erde kommt dieser Pflanzenriese vor, und dessen aus- [68] . . .

[. . . 68-82 YET TO BE TRANSCRIBED . . .]

Norfolk Island convict autobiographies and testimonials, c.1840-44

Norfolk Island convict papers, ca. 1842-1867; State Library of New South Wales, DLMS 102, DLMSQ 168

These 9 convict memoirs (biographies, autobiographies) were apparently collected by Reid; they are mostly in the hands of the original authors; that of [4] James/John Bushell (Bushell), almost certainly in Reid's hand, is DOCUMENT 11 above

MS 1 - James Lawrence/Laurence (see Wills 2015 for annotated modern edition)

MS 2 - George Palmer

MS 3 - Daniel (or Daniell)

MS 4 - James (John) Bushell (Bushelle) = DOCUMENT 11

MS 5 - James Porter (see also MS 604 below)

MS 6 - Davies [1]

MS 7 - Davies [2]

MS 8 - Mansfield Silverthorpe 

MS 9 - Jones

James Porter (b. c. 1800), MS autobiography, c.1840-44; State Library of New South Wales, DLMSQ 604 

Thomas Cook exiles lamentations; or biographical sketch, 1841; State Library of New South Wales, A 1711 

Joseph Jones two apologies presented to Captain A. Maconochie, R.N., R.M., 20 December 1840-11 January 1841; State Library of New South Wales, DLMSQ 570 

John Ward, convict, Norfolk Island, manuscript diary; National Library of Australia, MS 3275

Other relevant sources (not convicts):

Thomas Sharpe (Episcopalian chaplain), journal, Norfolk Island, 8 October 1840 - 31 December 1840; MS B218 (journal part 2), State Library of New South Wales (pagination continuous from B217) (TRANSCRIPT)


Lisa Jenkins, Offending lives: subjectivity and Australian convict autobiographies 1788-1899 (Ph.D dissertation, Stanford University, 2001) (LIMITED SEARCH)

Alexander Maconochie and his reform project


"SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE", The Sydney Herald (6 November 1839), 2 

ARRIVALS, From Hobart Town, on Monday last [4 November], having left the 25th ultimo, the ship Indus, Captain Clark, in Ballast. Passengers - Captain Maconochie, R. N., and Mr. Ross

"THE FACTORY", The Sydney Herald (13 November 1839), 2 

"SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE", The Sydney Herald (13 December 1839), 2 

DEPARTURES . . . For Hobart Town, same day [11 December], the barque Calcutta, Captain Ross, with sundries. Passengers. Captain Maconochie, R.N. . . .

"CAPT. MACONOCHIE", Colonial Times (24 December 1839), 6 

Arrived, yesterday morning, from Sydney, the fine new ship Calcutta, intended for Captain Chalmers, of the Auriga, by which Captain Maconochie has returned to this Colony, for the purpose of taking away his family, and proceeding to his Command at Norfolk Island. We understand that Sir George Gipps has adopted the Captain's system on several of the prisoner stations so far as is practicable, which has given entire satisfaction 4 and being fully persuaded of its utility and importance, His Excellency is determined to give the system his very utmost and strenuous support. We are in possession of further information in reference to the practical results of the new system at Sydney, the consideration of which we must defer till our next, when we shall endeavour to lay before our readers all that we know, and all that we think, upon a question in which these colonies are so deeply and so vitally interested.


"EXTRACT OF A LETTER FROM DR. ULLATHORNE, TO THE RIGHT REV. DR. CAREW", The Bengal Catholic Expositor (5 September 1840), 

Sydney, January 21st, 1840.
My dear Lord, My Bishop is at present absent in the interior or I am sure he would have gladly availed himself of the opportunity of writing to Madras . . . I am happy to say that, under all circumstances, this Mission progresses prosperously . . .
- We are anxiously looking for a supply of six more Missionaries from Ireland, our present entire force in both colonies and all the settlements being twenty-five, which still a very feeble force for such vast extents of territory.
- You will be delighted to hear that our people are becoming better; Religion is more observed, schools are every where being established, still we fight against heavy and most distressing difficulties in this most anomalous of societies.
- Transportation however is to be abolished. - Only half the usual number have been sent this year, and next, all sent are to proceed to Norfolk Island, to be governed and reformed it possible, by a new penitentiary system founded on the humane principle of encouragement and reward in place of punishment, and to be carried out by Captain Machervichie [sic], its inventor.
- My share in exposing the moral and physical horrors of transportation drew down upon me a furious onslaught from the great white-slaves here and their newspapers, for which I am of course no worse and the system no better than before.
The great point of interest, at this moment, in these quarters, is New Zealand, which England is about colonizing and preparing to take possession of . . .
Your Lordship's most faithful servant,

MY THANKS: To Colin Fowler, of Sydney, for bringing this letter to my attention (July 2018)

NOTE: From the distance of 1866, Ullathorne recalled that he both corresponded, and had an interview with Maconochie before the new commandant took up his position; Maconochie was only in Sydney briefly during December, and again in late January or early February; however, if an interview took place, the letter above may perhaps suggest that any meeting between the two had already taken place. Allowing for Ullathorne's confused chronology, his 1866 testimony below is probably otherwise reasonably reliable.

On the management of criminals: a paper read before the academia of the Catholic region by the right rev. bishop Ullathorne (London: Thomas Richardson and Son, 1866), especially 32 (DIGITISED) (DIGITISED)

[30] . . . we have now to examine the Mark System, which, strange to say, was first put on its trial at Norfolk Island. Notwithstanding present conflicts and misconceptions, I believe that the name of its inventor, Captain Maconochie, is destined to a future celebrity side by side with that of John Howard . . .

[31] . . . Admitting the necessity of severe punishment in the first instance, after that stern probation was past, he would put the prisoner in a position to work his own way upwards from the depths of suffering, until, step by step, and, ascending from one stage to another, he finally emerged into freedom. His own exertions, obedience, and good conduct, were to act continually in carrying the prisoner towards his emancipation; whilst idleness, disorder, or vice, were to send him back through a commensurate space, which he must recover, before he could again advance towards the term of his sentence. For this purpose, Captain Maconochie would substitute labour sentences in place of time sentences . . .

[32] . . . Such is the general outline of this system, and it scarcely needs to be added, that Captain Maconochie attached very great importance to obtaining the most efficient religious aid which the creed of the prisoner could render. And next to this, was his estimation of secular instruction, not merely for training the mind, but for occupying the imagination, and amusing the attention, so as to drive out the filth and folly with which vicious men are saturated. He would "cleanse the chambers of imagery."

In 1836 [sic], Captain Maconochie landed on Norfolk Island, where, with the view of putting his system upon its trial, he had been appointed governor; subject, nevertheless, to the Governor of New South Wales. Sir George Gipps was not, however, very favourably inclined towards his humanitarian views. Prior to the commencement of his experiment, he had done me the honour by letter, as well as by interview, to ask my frank opinion of his plans. It is a curious fact that he had drawn from my evidence of 1837 [sic], the directly opposite conclusion to the view I had expressed; he arguing upon that evidence for the concentration, and I for the dispersion of convicts on colonial territories. Yet struck with his mild and open bearing, I gave him my opinion as frankly as he asked it, and much in these words. Your system, I said, embodies elements of the utmost value, but it appears to require provisions of a more astringent virtue. Besides, in Norfolk Island you will have the worst and most inveterate criminals, the scum of the Penal Settlements, to deal with, and you will have hard and unfit instruments in your co-operators. They, and not you, will be in hourly contact with the men, and yet what you want is to carry your own spirit everywhere. Could you be your own wardens and overseers, you might succeed; provided, at all events, that those double-died felons were made to feel, that behind all your kindness there exists a desperate resolution, as prompt, if the necessity comes, to cut them down, as to encourage and reward them. I knew a man, I said, chief turnkey of a gaol, whose voice and manner were mild, gentle, and almost tender with his prisoners, and they greatly respected him; but if there was the least show of taking a licence, his eyes turned into two grey stones, and the straightening of his figure hinted the strength of his determined will. This is the type of the sort of men you require to work under your direction. But, where will you get them? He admitted that he had everything against him [33] except the advantage of a contracted stage, and the isolation of one thousand miles from habitual interference . . .


27 January 1840, Maconochie arrives in Sydney, on the Layton, from Hobart Town

"Captain Maconochie", The Australian (28 January 1840), 2 

By the Layton, which sails to-morrow morning, this gentleman and family proceeds to Sydney on his way to Norfolk Island, where he is to try the effects of his favourite "social" theory of reformation: - Hobart Town Advertiser, Jan. 17.

"Sydney News", Colonial Times (18 February 1840), 7 

The Layton had arrived safely on the 27th [January], with Captain Maconochie and family, all well.

"SHIP NEWS", The Sydney Herald (14 February 1840), 2 

The muster of the convicts by the Nautilus took place on board that vessel yesterday previous to her departure for Norfolk Island, to which place she sails in a few days. We understand Captain Maconochie proceeds in her, when the whole management of the convicts, who are not assignable by the new law, will be devolved on him.

"LAW", The Sydney Herald (21 February 1840), 3 

Yesterday, Captain Maconochie, R.N., and Mr. Charles Ormsby, the New Superintendant and the Assistant Superintendant of Norfolk Island, were sworn in as Magistrates of the territory, before Mr Justice Willis.


22 February 1840, departure for of Maconochie and party (including Reid), on the Nautilus, for Norfolk Island

"INTERESTING SCENE AT NORFOLK ISLAND. MR. EDITOR . . .", Australasian Chronicle (14 April 1840), 2 

[News], Australasian Chronicle (17 April 1840), 2 

FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 1840. We have been favoured, by an esteemed correspondent at Norfolk Island, with the following exposition, given to the prisoners, by Captain Maconochie, of the manner in which he is to reduce his reformatory system to practice . . .

[News], The Australian (7 May 1840), 2 

Our contemporary of the Australasian Chronicle has lately published statements relative to the social system which are of considerable interest. He enjoys an advantage which we do not possess, of having an intelligent correspondent at Norfolk Island, who has communicated, amongst other things, the rules upon which Copt. M. proposes to proceed in the carrying out of his plan . . .

Playbill for Queen's Birthday theatricals, Norfolk Island 1840

NORFOLK ISLAND", The Sydney Herald (24 June 1840), 2 

Report on the extraordinary Queen's Birthday celebrations on Nofolk Island, including theatrical and musical program reproduced from playbill

On Monday, 25th May, in honour of
Will be Performed, by Permission,
Two Acts of the admired Comic Opera of the
Don Ciesar . . . John Lawrence
Scipio . . . George Rolfe
Fernando . . . James Walker
Alphonso . . . Henry Witton
Spado . . . James King
Pedrillo . . . James Monds
Sanguino . . . James Cranston
Rapino . . . James Porter
Calvette . . . William Smith
Vasquez . . . R. Sanderson
Lorenza . . . [blank]
Banditti, &c.
Glee - Prithee, Brothers, speed to the Boat, Witton, Walker, Porter, Cranston, Sanderson, Smith
Song - Old England for ever, H. Witton
Comic Song - Walker, the Two-penny Postman, J. Monds
Song - Bound 'Prentice to a Waterman, J. Lawrence
Glee - Fisherman's Glee, same as first
Song - Paddy from Cork, J. Walker
Song - Powder Monkey Peter, J. Lawrence
Glee - As before
Song - Spirit of the Storm, H. Witton
Song - The tight Irishman, J. Porter
Glee - Some love to roam, as before
Song - The Old Commodore, J. Lawrence.
The Tent Scene in Richard III, by H. Witton.
by Michael Burns.
Dance - Tyrolese Waltz, by Thomas Barry.
After which the Musical Entertainment of
The Baron . . . James Cranston
Theodore . . . G. Rolfe
Edmond . . . W. Yelverton
Will Steady . . . John Lawrence
Sally . . . James Monds
Page . . . John Rae
After which, [song] Paddy Carey, in character, by John Lawrence.
Song - Banner of War, H. Witton.
The whole to conclude with the National Anthem

"THE NEW PENAL SYSTEM. MR. EDITOR", Australasian Chronicle (27 June 1840), 2 


"FETE AT NORFOLK ISLAND", The Sydney Herald (1 July 1840), 1 Supplement 

"CAPTAIN MACONOCHIE'S SYSTEM", The Colonist (1 July 1840), p. 2 

"NORFOLK ISLAND", Australasian Chronicle (29 August 1840), 4 


"Norfolk Island", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (30 April 1842), 2 

We beg to direct the attention of our readers to an important letter (from a Correspondent) in this days' publication, which exposes in an able manner, the absurd, we might add, insane system of government, pursued by Captain Maconochie, at Norfolk Island, a system, which, instead of reclaiming the hardened criminal from his evil ways, has tended to foster vice in its most gross and revolting shape. We earnestly implore the attention of Sir George Gipps to the fearful extent to which crime has reached, the increasing depravity of the prisoners, and the enormous additional expense incurred by the Utopian crotchets of the music mad Captain, whose "soothing system" has proved a curse, instead of a blessing, to the country which he mis-governs.

Letter, Deputy Assistant Commissary Smith, to George Gipps, 16 June 1842, Correspondence Norfolk Island 1846, 60 

. . . One man in particular, the Band Master, obtained through Favouritism upwards of 30,000 Marks, with the Surplus of which he could either have helped several of his Friends to their Tickets of Leave, or have turned them into valuable Property.


"SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (16 July 1842), 2 

From Norfolk Island, same day [14 July], the brig Governor Phillip, Captain Boyle, with forty-two convicts and nine rank and file of the 96th Regiment. Passengers, Lieutenant Chambers and Lady, Miss Macopochie . . .

"NORFOLK ISLAND", Australasian Chronicle (16 July 1842), 2 

WE regret to state that the accounts of the relapsed state of this settlement recently published are but too well confirmed by the intelligence just received by the "Governor Phillip." Our own letters are enclosed in a package on board that ship, and have not been delivered, but we have endeavoured to collect the best information possible of the recent daring attempts of the prisoners and their results . . . Indeed, from all we can learn, Captain Maconochie's philanthropic effort is destined to terminate in a manner very different from that which every good man must have wished. For our own part, we can truly say our disappoinment is great in the extreme. We shall probably have some further details to communicate in our next.

"Original Correspondence. PIRACY AND MURDER AT NORFOLK ISLAND", Australasian Chronicle (19 July 1842), 2 

"SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE", The Australian (5 September 1842), 2 

CLEARED AT CUSTOMS . . . The barque Jupiter, Hicks, master, for London, with colonial produce. Passengers, Miss Maconochie, Mr. Ogilvy, Mr. Mansfield, Mr. M'Dermott, Mr. Scott, and Mr. M'Ewan.

Letter, Jane Franklin to Mrs. Simpkinson, 5 September 1842 (in George Mackenness, Some private correspondence of Sir John and Lady Jane Franklin (Tasmania, 1837-1845) (Sydney: D. S. Ford, 1947); also reproduced Clay 2001, 205)

. . . The Beauforts will hear of it all if they do not know of it already, but I would not have you be the first to communicate it. Its notoriety here precludes all possibility of its being kept a secret in England. It has already been plainly alluded to in one of our newspapers.

Sir John received yesterday some very interesting and confidential letters from Sir George Gipps - that wretched girl Mary Ann Maconochie was at that moment in his house - she was brought to Sydney from Norfolk Island by the first opportunity, attended by Sion, Mrs. Maconochie's most faithful servant and his, Sion's brother. Sir George and Lady Gipps with the most noble and generous kindness, for such it assuredly is, took her into Government House till the ship (Jubilee [recte Jupiter]) sailed which was to be in the first week of September. She was of course in the utmost seclusion, had not been seen by Sir George but was frequently visited by Lady Gipps - Sir George says the affair was one of notoriety at Norfolk Island - how it was first discovered . . . not exactly known - but all of a sudden the man who had been living in the house as tutor to the boys and music master to Mary Ann, was thrown into prison and she was shut up in her room - the man had been a musician and composed in England and was transported for forgery - he is of good address and handsome person - all these details, most of which I knew before were given to us by Sir George who at the close of his letter says Lady Gipps begs that what he has said on her authority be kept secret. I have omitted but little except the name of the villain [Charles Packer]. The girl is to be sent to Mrs. Oldham, Captain Maconochie's illegitimate sister whom you may recollect having seen and she lives at Cheltenham . . .

ASSOCIATIONS: "The man" was Charles Packer; this followed, and no doubt - for her parents - compounded the impact, of Mary Ann's earlier mis-alliance with Reid


"WATER POLICE OFFICE", The Sydney Morning Herald (5 September 1842), 2 

THE COMIC SONGSTER. Captain Innes took occasion to warn the Sydney police, a few days since, against an individual, now at Cockatoo, who will, however, very soon be in his old haunts in Sydney. Not relishing the discipline of Cockatoo, this party reported himself free, and was brought to Hyde Park, when it was found he had yet another month's penance to undergo, Captain Innes stated, that he was a most unmitigated villain, and moreover that he had been one of Captain Maconochie's pelt, having filled the office of comic songster at Norfolk Island during the theatrical representations which took place before Her Majesty's lieges on that island.

Letter, Alexander Maconochie, 17 September 1842, Correspondence Norfolk Island 1846, 68, 70, 75 

[Deputy Assistant Commissary General, John W. Smith, had written to Gipps with Imputations of mal-administration by Machonochie] . . . I propose, therefore . . . to reply to these [imputations] in succession . . . 7th. That such is my Prodigality in bestowing Marks that the Band Master had recently 30,000 accumulated to his credit . . .

[70] 7th. The Band Master was at one Time one of our most useful Men; he was Band Master, principal Attendant in the Hospital, and Head Master in the Adult School, all at the same Time; and his Remuneration was Eighteen Marks a Day, Four more than an ordinary Overseer, and a monthly Allowance of 100 Marks out of the School Funds . . . and as he earned a little Money besides all, by private Teaching, and thus for the most part fed and clothed himself without drawing his Allowances, his Marks rapidly accumulated, and there were 15,004 to his credit when he got his Ticket . . .

[75] [in notes added 22 September 1842] . . . 7. Supposing Mr. Smith's present Statement of the Band Master's Marks to be strictly correct, it constitutes no Imputation either on me or the Marks System . . .

Letter, John W. Smith, 20 September 1842, Correspondence Norfolk Island 1846, 79

[79] 7th. In the case of the Band Master . . . I would ask whether the Band Master had not Permission to acquire Marks for his fellow Prisoners for Services rendered, or in the way of general Traffic, which was sanctioned amongst nearly all Classes of the New hand, and whether he did not obtain at least the Promise of 1,000 Marks from each of the Thirteen Men composing his band, in compensation or as a Gratuity for teaching them Music? . . .

Correspondence Norfolk Island 1846, 115, 120, 122 

Accounts of the ticket-of-leave men dated 3 December 1842 register "11 Band" paid 484 marks in total (115); 24 December 1842 "11 Band" paid 1,452 marks in total (120); and 31 December 1842 "11 Band" paid 1,452 marks total (122).

Correspondence Norfolk Island 1846, 150-51 

A return showing the manner in which the prisoners were employed on 10 March 1843 (150-51) shows that, of the "Experimental Prisoners, called 'New Hands'", 11 were serving in the Band.

Norfolk Island, by Alexander maconochie, R.N., K.H., late superintendent (London: John Ollivier, 1848), 21 (DIGITISED)

. . . In the same spirit the reviewer quotes all my intellectual apparatus as though meant as mere "solatia." I propose them uniformly for thee expressed purpose of awakening, stimulating, and keeping the mind active, as well as the body, storing it, at thee same time, with better thoughts than the disgusting images otherwise most familiar to prisoners. And in this light they cannot be too highly valued. It is in the intervals of entire repose, which in ordinary management are allowed to alternate with severe physical toil, that such men corrupt each other. My music, readings aloud, schools, novels, and other similar machinery, then kept many a devil out, - and, perhaps, introduced some angels in. They were negatively beneficial at all events and, I feel assured, in very many cases positively advantageous also . . .

The mark system of prison discipline, by Capt. Maconochie, R.N., K.H. (London: Mitchell and Son, 1857), endnotes page 2, especially endnote 6

4. Very early I had the foundation of two churches, Protestant and Roman Catholic. Previously there was none, and the respective services had been performed with little reverence, and correspondingly little effect, in barns and mess rooms.

5. I also obtained a Protestant catechist to be added to the establishment. By an act of the New South Wales Legislature, the same sum, £300 a year, was allowed for each mission, as it was called, on which two Roman Catholic priests and a catechist were maintained, while one Protestant chaplain with a large family could scarcely subsist on it . . . I further endeavoured, but without success, to procure a Presbyterian, or Independent chaplain from Sydney, for the benefit of Scotch and Irish Presbyterians, of whom there were many, and I authorized fourteen Jews, who were deplorably sunk and demoralized, to meet regularly in a room which I assigned them for the purpose on the settlement . . .

6. Having much confidence in the softening influence of music, I had brought a considerable assortment of instruments with me from Sydney, and speedily formed a band, from which each congregation was encouraged to select a choir. The improvement of all was speedily most manifest. Not only were our church services rendered much more impressive, but also our funerals, which had previously been most careless. I now gave them all suitable ceremonial, and on most occasions attended them myself . . .

The above notes were not included in the 1859 edition; see: (DIGITISED)

"CAPTAIN MACONOCHIE, R.N., K.H.", in Matthew Davenport Hill, Our exemplars, poor and rich; or, Biographical sketches of men and women who have, by an extraordinary use of the opportunities, benefited their fellow-creatures (London: Cassell, Petter, and Galpin, 1861), esp. 230 

[230] . . . Impressed with the purifying effect of music, Captain Maconochie brought with him from Sydney a variety of instruments, and a fine band was formed among the convicts. So eager were they to improve, that they would rise at four in the morning to get through their work and obtain leisure to practise.

. . . The Queen's birthday occurred in less than three months after Captain Maconochie reached Norfolk Island. Convinced of the wisdom of cultivating loyalty and the [231] love of home in the class to which his men belonged, and aware that the observance of national festivals tends forcibly to nourish those feelings, he resolved to make this anniversary a happy holiday throughout the island. Fresh food was supplied to the convicts, and after an address which went to their very hearts, the Captain proposing "The health of Victoria our Queen, and old England for ever!" with his own hand gave each man a half-tumbler of lemonade, containing a small portion of rum, which was drunk amid shouts of "Long live the Queen!" National sports were engaged in for prizes, the band played national airs, and in the evening was performed a drama, "The Exile's Return." During the day, the convicts, 1,800 in number, unwatched, traversed the island in all directions . . .


Bibliography and references:

James Hall, "A history of music in Australia, 16: early period - New South Wales; Captain Aelxander Maconochie R.N., K.H.", The Canon: Australian Journal of Music 5/9 (April 1952), 407-410

This short article is almost certainly the earliest dedicated account of Maconochie's use of music as an "integral part of his system" on Norfolk Island, based on and quoting from Maconochie's and Gipps's letters and despatches of 1840; Hall correctly analyses the material, except for identifying "Mr. Ellard" as Francis, rather than Andrew (408, note 5)

John Vincent Barry, "Pioneers in Criminology XII -Alexander Maconochie (1787-1860)", Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 47/2 (July-August 1956), 145-61 (DIGITISED)

[152] . . . At a time when the official view of penal discipline was that it should terrify by its harshness, he conceived the notion that music and literature and improved education were useful adjuncts in a prison, and what is more remarkable, he put his ideas into effect . . .

[154] . . . He allowed first class prisoners to wear garments other than convict clothing, and he established a band with instruments and music which cost the authorities £103.15.0, a not inconsiderable sum in those days . . .

John Vincent Barry, Alexander Maconochie of Norfolk Island: a study of a pioneer in penal reform (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1858) 

John Clay, Maconochie's experiment (London: John Murray, 2001) 

References to Reid, 98, 158, 204-05 (on Mary Ann Maconochie, and her affairs with Reid and Charles Packer), 237; on 272; Clay notes "For information on Mary Ann and Dr. Reid, I am grateful to Dr. [Brian] Gandevia, Sydney".

Norval Morris, Maconochie's gentlemen: the story of Norfolk Island & the roots of modern prison reform (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002) 

In this semi-novelistic account, the criminologist Morris based his convict musician David Ankers very loosely around Charles Packer, but also perhaps on some aspects of the Reid story (Morris gives no documentary references). In Morris's account, some time after Maconochie's daughter had left the island, Maconochie again encountered Ankers, when the latter reasserted that he had "had the bad luck . . . to attract the affection of my daughter, through no fault of his own".

John Moore, "Alexander Maconochie's mark system", Prison Service Journal 198 (2011). 38-46 (DIGITISED)

Alan Maddox, "On the machinery of moral improvement: music and prison reform in the penal colony on Norfolk Island", Musicology Australia 34/2 (2012), 185-205 (PAYWALL)

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