Charles Anderson

Tattooed seaman
Arrived 1834
Print from book.
'Tattoos of a criminal sailor' (detail) from L'uomo delinquent, Cesare Lambroso, 4th edn [1876], reproduced in Criminal man, Cesare Lombroso, translated and with a new introduction by Mary Gibson and Nicole Hahn Rafter, Duke University Press, 2006. Justice & Police Museum Library.
Some hapless individuals experienced the full horrors of convict transportation. It was no wonder that some, like Anderson, endured periods of mental instability.

Navy seaman and thief Charles ‘Bony’ Anderson arrived in Sydney from Devonshire in 1834, aged 24. He was heavily tattooed, with designs of a mermaid, anchor, buoy, cottage, flag, heart, crucifix, sun, moon and seven stars, Adam and Eve, serpent and tree.

In the next few years he was frequently flogged, for mutinous conduct, striking fellow prisoners, assaulting an overseer and neglect of work. After one offence he was apparently cruelly chained to a rock on Goat Island, in public view and fed with a long pole.

In 1838 the Barracks’ court sentenced him to the horrific punishment of life in ‘double irons’ on Norfolk Island, but he was later returned to Cockatoo Island, where he was considered a lunatic and kept in a straightjacket. Following his transfer to the Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum, Anderson was pronounced sane. He received his freedom in 1854.

Other convicts might have described Anderson as: bug, lagger, cracksman, sevener, cockatoo, pebble, rump’d, darbie’d, slang’d, rock’d, shook. See our glossary of Flash language (convict slang words) to find out what these words mean.