Convicts: audio

Listen to convicts talking about their daily lives, including a song.

Rules and routines


'… when the complete disembarkation had been effected, we were conducted to Hyde Park Barracks … After half an hour’s walk, dressed in full uniform … with our bag, baggage and bedding buckled to our backs, we arrived at the barracks, a large gloomy looking building, surrounded with a high wall, having strong folding entrance doors. Here we were marshalled in complete battle array, two deep, but in open order, ready for the inspection of his Excellency the Governor. … the yard was filled with a dense mass of moving forms, of every variety of face and figure. The barrack, indeed, at that period might truly have been assimilated to the box of Pandora, for it certainly contained every evil in human shape – a perfect accumulation of vice and infamy.'

Source: Charles Cozens, Adventures of a guardsman, Richard Bentley, London, 1848, pp111, 116



'Saturday afternoon was set apart for the men to wash their shirts, which did not occupy long, as their wardrobe was chiefly confined to what they carried on their backs. The shirt, however, must be clean on Sunday’s parade under pain of punishment. When washed, it was usually dried on the shoulders of the owners, over the jackets, to avoid any experiments in the sleight-of-hand conveyancing... so sure as any novice… happened to suspend his shirt… from a peg or paling, and only for one moment turned his back upon it, his face would never more look on it.'

Source: Charles Cozens, Adventures of a guardsman, Richard Bentley, London, 1848, pp111, 116.



'… the convict named in the margin was this day brought before us charged with being absent from his road party… and being found in a public house drinking… On his person were found a number of gambling implements such as cups & balls, dice, copper money soldered together in masses in such a manner as to give it the appearance of spread out, round pieces of tin done in the same way, together with one pound fifteen shillings and 9 pence in Spanish dollars...'

Source: Hyde Park Barracks Letterbook, Clerk of the Peace Records, State Records NSW 2/670, reel 2650

Bad behaviour and punishment


'Up steps bold Jack Muldemon his comrades three more
We soon disarmed the sentry and left him in his gore
Liberty Oh Liberty it's Liberty we crave
Deliver up your arms my boys or the sea shall be your grave

'First we landed the soldiers the captain and his crew
We gave three cheers for Liberty and soon bid them adieu
William Swallows he was chosen our commander for to be
We gave three cheers for Liberty and boldly put to sea

'Play on your golden trumpets boys and sound your cheerful notes
The Cyprus Brig's on the ocean boys by justice does she float.'

Source: Excerpt from the poem ‘Seizure of the Brig Cyprus’ by one-time Hyde Park Barracks convict Francis Macnamara, transcribed by Thomas Whitley, c1891, Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, MLMSS7266.



'…Your petitioner having his four Christians safe in the Boat, they left the inhospitable coast and landed them safe at Moreton Bay to the great joy of the Commandant who again assured your petitioner that no effort should be wanted on his part to induce your Excellency to befriend your petitioner who had risked his life for the sole purpose of saving the above named Christians

'Your petitioner therefore most humbly prays your Excellency to take his case into your humane and early consideration and grant him such relief as to your Excellency shall seem meet.

'And your petitioner will ever pray & etc,
'John Graham, 29 December 1836.'

Source: ‘The humble petition of John Graham’, Dixson Library, State Library of NSW, DL SP 196