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2-147 (Text)

Item metadata
Speaker:
author,male,Thompson, William,un addressee,family
ns1:discourse_type
Letter
Word Count :
611
Plaint Text :
ns1:register
Private Written
ns1:texttype
Private Correspondence
ns1:localityName
http://dbpedia.org/resource/Van_Diemen%27s_Land
Created:
1836
Identifier
2-147
Source
Ingleton, 1988
pages
166
Document metadata
Extent:
3232
Identifier
2-147-plain.txt
Title
2-147#Text
Type
Text

2-147-plain.txt — 3 KB

File contents



Dear Father and Mother, - You sent me word in your last letter there was a reform in England, and I do assure you there is a reform in this country also, for instead of working eight hours a day we have to work from 14 to 18 hours, sometimes up to our knees in cold water, till we are ready to sink with fatigue, and if we dare to complain our hard hearted driver places us in a damp dungeon, with an iron collar round our bare necks, where we are kept for three days and nights on black bread and water, and drops of wet continually falling on us.
This caused four of the convicts to refuse to go to work after coming out of the dungeon They complained of being ill, the inhuman driver instantly struck one, J Smith, with a heavy thong, which caused the gang to rise and dreadfully beat the drivers, by which one of them died the same day.
The soldiers were immediately sent for, and 47 of us taken into custody, heavily ironed and kept all night under guard. The next day our trials commenced at 9 o'clock in the morning, which occupied the whole day.
Nine were sentenced to die and 38 were sentenced to go to the mercury mines to work underground, some for life, some for 14 years and others for shorter periods.
Dear parents, I hope this will be a warning to thousands when they read this awful execution of nine of my fellow-sufferers at one time. I myself am as innocent of the disturbance as a child unborn How dearly shall I prize my liberty, if it shall please God to spare me for six more years - three years I had a good master, who I prayed to God might be spared until the expiration of my 14 years In the month of November, 1831, he died and I was turned over to a complete tyrant, who employed 60 of us and used us worse than asses.
The only thing I fear is the mercury mines, for most that are sent there die, but I still trust in Almighty God to be my guide during the time I have to remain in this dreadful punishment.
Dear parents, I often thought very light of transportation, like my companions, but assure them there is no one can imagine the torture we undergo.
On Saturday, July 2nd, at 7 in the morning, we were all paraded in front of the scaffold. The nine unfortunate men came on with a firm step, the chaplain taking leave of them. The executioner commenced tying them up to the beam, by which they can hang 16 at a time.
James Smith, transported from York for 14 years, he commenced addressing his fellow convicts, and declared he would rather die than be tormented in the way he was, and hoped someone would inform his friends that he died happy - he would have said a deal more, but the cap was forced over his face by the executioner.
William Jarvis for life from Nottingham, John Nathan, George Cox, Edward Hall from Old Bailey, London; Joseph Cook for seven years from Lincoln; Patrick Glue and Sylvester Mooney, for life from Warwick; and William Brown, for life from Leicester. The nine men seemed to cry out with one voice, "We die happy!"
I would have said a great deal more, but time will not permit. I still hope and trust that God will restore me to my native land once more, as we are so narrowly watched.
I remain, your loving, though unfortunate son,
WILLIAM THOMPSON.

http://ns.ausnc.org.au/corpora/cooee/source/2-147#Text