Posted in Stories

Discovery of a Convict – Rowland Allsop – Part 2

Having survived one of the most horrendous transportations from England that was ever recorded, Rowland Allsop was assigned to work for a station holder by the name of Ronald Campbell, of the Goulburn district of New South Wales.

At the time in question there was a Captain Ronald Campbell in the Monaro/Goulburn District who owned and ran Bombala Station in the Maneroo District.  He was a very repected military man who had fought in India in the Nepal War (1814-1816) where he received a medal for his gallantry.  Captain Campbell was also present at the burning of the transport ship “Kent” in the Bay of Biscay, where he was lucky to escape with his life. He was also in Dinapore, India during the Cholera epidemic of 1826 – 27, once again surviving against all odds.  Ronald Campbell then brought the 4th Regiment of Infantry from England to New South Wales during 1834/35 and it was at this point that he decided to sell out of the Army to become the station holder at Bombala Station in the Monaro district.  Captain Campbell already had a number of convicts working for him by the time Rowland was assigned to him, but it is unclear whether Captain Campbell was assigned only one convict, or whether he took charge of a number of convicts from the Lord Lyndoch.

Within a very short time of arriving in Sydney the long trip of approximately 500 kilometres to Bombala began.  After Internet research I discovered that the a horse and cart carrying just 2 men plus supplies and travelling on  a gently rolling grassy, unkept track could only travel at approximately 25 kilometres per day, so in total the journey could have taken roughly 20 – 25 days.  During this time they would have presumably camped under the stars at night and caught most of their own food, so Rowland would have seen not only an expanse of land that he never thought possible, but would also seen many of the native animals of Australia – Kangaroo’s, Emu’s, Cockatoos and Galahs, Goanna’s and Snakes.  I can only imagine the awe with which Rowland viewed his first troop of Kangaroos lazing in the shade of a tree and using their short front paws to scratch. I wonder what he thought when he saw the power of the huge “Roo’s” as they took of in great leaps across the paddock. He would have been deafened by the absolute cacophony of wild bird calls in the evening, and if he was very lucky, he may have heard the laugh of our  Kookaburra as they trundled along the dusty track in the cart.

The Indigenous population of the Maneroo district were not very fierce, so it is probable that Captain Campbell and Rowland encountered no problems from them.  The weather in August can be very cold by Australian standards, especially at night, but by late September when they arrived in Bombala the days would have become warmer as it headed into spring.

Rowlands working life would have consisted of hard physical labour from dawn to dusk.  He may have done any of the normal farm duties which have might include fencing of Captain Campbell’s land holding of approximately 6,500 hectares, planting and raising crops, working with sheep and cattle – he may even have learned how to shear sheep! –  and building of accommodations.  Perhaps it was whilst Rowland was working on perimeter fencing that he viewed the power and majesty of the Australian Emu, almost 6 feet in height and racing across the land at around 50 kilometres and hour!  It is Australia’s largest flightless bird.  It would not have taken long for Rowland to have developed a tanned skin and calloused hands.

We know that Rowland showed himself to a capable and trustworthy convict labourer as, only 6 years into his ten year sentence (1844), he was granted a Ticket of Leave.

Ticket of Leave - 8 Apr 1844.  Ticket No. 44/2029
Ticket of Leave – 8 Apr 1844. Ticket No. 44/2029

The Ticket gave Rowland some liberty to travel within the Monaro district with Captain Campbell, he could apply to bring his family out from England and he could work for wages.  He had to carry the Ticket on his person at all times, attend Church services each week and  renew the Ticket annually. Rowland was not allowed to carry firearms or board a ship.  We do know though that he chose not to send for his wife and children.  Hannah, William Henry and Mary Ann stayed in England until their deaths many years later.  We know that Rowland stayed in the employ of Captain Campbell after he was granted his Ticket of Leave, as just over two years later on 20 Jun 1846 he was granted a Ticket of Leave Passport which removed all restrictions on him except his right to leave the colony.

Ticket of Leave Passport. Ticket No. 46/268
Ticket of Leave Passport. Ticket No. 46/268

From information taken from Rowlands death certificate we know that at some point in the early part of 1847 Rowland met a female convict by the name of Jane McIntyre, and they developed a relationship.  After researching Rowland for all these years I have developed the belief that Rowland was of a quiet and serious nature, hardworking and bright enough to get by in life, although opportunity did not seem to favour him.

Rowland received his Certificate of Freedom on 27 Oct 1848.  He at last became a free citizen of Australia about 2 months after completion of his 10 year sentence.  He was free to return to England if he so wished, travel anywhere within the Colony, marry freely, earn wages and acquire property.  He was a free man.

Certificate of Freedom. Cert. No. 48/329
Certificate of Freedom. Cert. No. 48/329

What must that moment have felt like for Rowland, the moment he was handed his freedom.  Would he have had flash recollections of the horrors of his voyage and fleeting memories of his first wife and the two little children he would never see grow to adulthood, or would he have sat quietly on his own under the shade of a  tree and thanked the heavens for having survived?


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