Thursday, September 9, 2010

Captain Bligh's other mutiny

Stephen Dando-Collins provides an account of the military coup that occurred in Sydney on 26 January 1808 resulting in the removal of William Bligh from his position as governor of the colony and resulting in two years of rule by the military until Lachlan Macquarie arrived from England in 1810 to take over the role of governor. Although Major Johnston led the coup the power behind the rebellion was that of John Macarthur, a former member of the army corps but now a landowner in the colony, and much of the book investigates the machinations of Macarthur in taking control of the colony.

The interest in this period of Australian history is not just of the rebellion and its aftermath including the enquiries into the event and trial of Macarthur back in England but in the descriptions of life in the colony at this time.

From the family history viewpoint, Simeon Lord was one of the colonists who signed the petition authorising the arrest of Bligh. A number of references are made to Simeon throughout the book. He obviously felt that Supporting Macarthur against Bligh was a strategically good move at the time but later refused to continue support Macarthur as Macarthur sought to increase his power-base. However Simeon was not the only family member to be mentioned. When Bligh sailed to Hobart seeking the support of Colonel Collins, George Guest was one of the colonists who defied the government orders and made available supplies to Bligh and his party on the ship. George was arrested for defying Collins' orders.

This book was published in 2008 - two hundred years after the coup. Another book on this topic is The Rum Rebellion written by H V Evatt and published in 1938.

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