Jacobinism Afloat - The Insurrection on the 'Lady Shore' in 1797
As the English convict ship 'Lady Shore' sailed towards Botany Bay her human cargo contained a number of Frenchmen politicised by eight years of Revolution in their homeland
The English settlement of Australia was carried out against the backdrop of the French Revolution and the conflict between Britain and France for world supremacy. Even in the tiny penal colony of Botany Bay the intellectual currents of the revolution were present: the Irish rebels of 1798 and the 'Scottish Martyrs' Thomas Muir, Maurice Margarot, T.F. Palmer, Gerrald and Skirving were, in varying degrees, supporters of the new French Republic. Colonial governors such as John Hunter and Philip Gidley King feared the spread of the ideas of 'Liberty, Equality and Fraternity' among a predominantly convict population; they saw the Irish as a breeding-ground for revolutionary principles; and they were obsessed by the idea of French attacks on the colony. France and things thought 'French' were the betes noires of early New South Wales. In the words of Thomas Palmer, one of the friends of liberty transported for publishing seditious works in 1793, 'the persecution for political opinion is not confined to G[reat] B[ritain] but extends to her remotest connections. They are all aristocrats here from ignorance, and being out of the way or desire of knowledge.'