- EducationDay in the life of a convict
- Part 1: 1788–1815The convicts’ colony
- Part 2: 1815–1822For the civic good
- Part 3: 1822–1826Back to business
- Part 4: 1826–1837A world of pain
- A day in the life1836
- Side noteBigge Inquiry
- Side noteLimits of location
- Side noteMolesworth report
- Part 5: 1837–1848The turning tide
With their ‘flash’ slang words, convicts could undermine the control of the authorities. The rebellious verse of Macnamara, who clearly had the gift of the gab, must have struck a chord with his fellow convicts.
In 1832, Francis Macnamara, an articulate 21-year-old miner from Wicklow, Ireland, was sentenced to seven years’ transportation for stealing cloth.
In the colony he became a popular poet and balladeer, famous for describing the horrors and injustices of the convict system – and few were more qualified to write about convict life.
For nearly two decades, while ‘Frank the Poet’ entertained colonists with witty writings, the real Macnamara endured punishment in irons, multiple floggings, stints on the treadmill and long periods in solitary cells. His poem ‘A Dialogue between two Hibernians in Botany Bay’, published in The Sydney Gazette, was written at the Hyde Park Barracks.
The defiant Macnamara also wrote about notorious fellow convicts William Swallow and Israel Chapman. Macnamara was finally freed in 1849.