There was one frustrating absence from all the convict documents digitised and available through the Libraries Tasmania site directly pertaining to convict James Dyson. The link to the General Correspondence File of the Colonial Secretary’s Office (CSO1) tells you what it is, but not what it contains.
Much as I would dearly love to visit Tasmania again and wallow amongst the microfilm, that’s not going to be possible any time soon. Then, thanks to a lead not affiliated with any of the “official” sources of knowledge, I learnt that a certain religious sect have in their possession the entire lot on microfilm and offer it free on their web site.
These images are catalogued on familysearch, but give no searchable clue what these scans contain. The Tasmanian Archive’s site gives you slightly more than a clue but refuses to connect to the scans the Mormons have published. Or even let you know this source exists at all!
The Convict Ship Moffatt arrived in Hobart Town on 9 May 1834 carrying convict James Dyson. I’ve managed to piece together a pretty detailed narrative of the voyage by piecing together contemporary newspaper articles, The Surgeon-Superintendent’s report (translated from the Latin), the way the voyage was supposed to proceed (according to Thomas Braidwood Wilson’s book and Lieutenant Governor Arthur’s evidence to a parliamentary committee), and what actually happened (according to the diary of a private passenger onboard ship.)
The hitherto un-transcribed dossier of letters from the Colonial Secretary’s Office have proved to all be about the arrival of the Moffatt at Hobart and I’m relieved to find that I seemed to have got most of the facts straight — working it out the hard way. You, the potential reader of Dyson’s Swamp will have to endure many fewer “possibly’s” or “probably’s” when I review this chapter.
What makes me happiest is that it confirms to me that Thomas Braidwood Wilson (R.N) Esquire, Surgeon Superintendent in charge of the welfare of every Convict on board the Moffatt was as full of shit as I always suspected him to be.
I am also delighted to discover Captain William Moriarty plays an additional role in James Dyson’s history – it turns out he was the first new face he ever saw in Van Diemen’s Land.
I have the honor to acquaint you that agreeably to your request I have inspected the Transport Ship Moffatt arrived in this Port on the 9th Instant and have mustered the Convicts on board of her.
The appearance of the vessel was creditable and cleanly, and that of the men healthy. I individually interrogated them as to the treatment they met with during the passage, and they expressed themselves perfectly satisfied thencewith, in regard to their provisions and in every other respect.
Four Hundred Prisoners were embarked on board this Vessel five of whom have died during the passage, one drowned, and one absconded since his embarkation *
I do myself the honor of forwarding herewith the papers called for by your instructions A. the Surgeons Superintendent with the
exception of No. 4 which as Dr Wilson had [not?] closed his Accounts was not yet ready and Which he has promised to forward on Monday the 12th Inst
I have the honor to be
Your very Obedient Servant
Jno Burnett EsqCSO1/1/719 Page 15674 no 39, 40
* Then there was this glorious annotation to the report by the Colonial Secretary obviously on the behalf of an incensed Colonel Arthur:
Prepare a letter to Dr Wilson R N The Surgeon Supt requesting him to state the particulars of this man’s escape & where & when it took placeCSO1/1/719 Page 15674 no 40
Wilson’s reply from onboard Moffatt proves once and for all that a medical man’s handwriting is always borderline unreadable (at least it was not in Latin this time). My interpretation of this scrawl is underneath the image (I’m not quite that much of a bastard). —
I have received your letter of this day’s date requesting me to state for His Excellency’s information, the particulars relative to the escape of a prisoner from this ship.
On the 3rd Jany about 6 A.M. it was reported to me that a prisoner named J. Davies was missing.
This man was one of a party who assisted in getting water from the hold & consequently was always on deck at daylight.
On the morning of the above mentioned date, the prisoner went into the drop[!] on pretence of being unwell, the next person who had occasion to go there found the prisoners apparel & half of his chains near the privy.
A boat with a non commissioned officer & party of the guard was immediately depart south to search all the Vessels in the sound & another to examine the lee Shore. Information was given to the proper authorities at Plymouth. & I also wrote to the Home office on the Subject & I enclose Mr Cappers answer No fault can be attributed to the guard nor to any other person
I have the honorCSO1/1/719 Page 15674 no 41
to be Sir your
most Obedient Servant
[Mostly Illegible signature]
So this is it. Probably the last post of 2022. A year I discovered this site still banned on Western Australian government filtered servers for reasons of … pornography. I am guessing this is down to my use of a certain … word. When I discovered this some years ago I removed what I thought was the offending word on a certain page. As I seem to be permanently on a black list with no obvious way of appealing the ban or even finding out on what grounds my domain was banned in the first place, I may as well use what words I feel like without filtering myself.