By Babette Smith
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Additional resources for Australia's Birthstain: The Startling Legacy of the Convict Era
Thomas Collins and William Penny were handcuﬀed to one another and imprisoned within the castle while the Colonel immediately returned to the pursuit. With a party of his men, he quickly arrested Jack Reeves, James Jenkins and the blacksmith Thomas Morgan. Meanwhile, John Vickery the Bow Street Runner went on a fruitless hunt for the Hayward brothers, who had vanished. Without ceremony, the search parties entered houses and scoured outlying buildings. They found James Roach at Thornbury hidden in a cellar of his father’s farmhouse.
In 1855 Van Diemen’s Land became Tasmania. Later in the nineteenth century, not long before the ﬁrst Centenary, the name of the most enduring convict encampment in the Blue Mountains—20 Mile Hollow—was changed to something that did not evoke memories of the prisoners’ stockade. It became known as Bull’s Camp, named after an army engineer who was not on the mountains during the peak road-building period but supervised the road’s completion, on and oﬀ, and was given all the glory. Australians were apparently determined to eradicate any name that evoked the convict era, even if it was not directly connected to convicts.
But whoever the applicant, a letter had to be written, credentials explained, testimonials produced. A family historian who approached the Mitchell Library or the State Archives had no direct access to convict information and probably received little encouragement from archivists because the topic was cumbersome to manage, given the policy restrictions, and sometimes controversial if a First Fleeter turned out to have arrived in irons. Then in 1961 a visiting American scholar precipitated a crisis of policymaking in Tasmania by telling the media that he was there to study records relating to convicts and their families.