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448717
  • Title
    James Porter autobiography, between 1840-1844
  • Creator
  • Call number
    DLMSQ 604
  • Level of description
    Collection
  • Date

    Between 1840-1844
  • Type of material
  • Reference code
    448717
  • Issue Copy
    Microfilm : CY 3620, frames 17-54 (DLMSQ 604)
  • Physical Description
    1 folder - 0.02 Meters
    Textual Records - (manuscript)
  • ADMINISTRATIVE/ BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY

    James Porter was born in London in about 1800. He was sent to sea at an early age and spent some time in Chile. In 1821 he was convicted of stealing and sentenced to transportation for life. He arrived in Hobart the following year on the Asia. After several attempts to escape he was sent to the penal settlement at Macquarie Harbour. In 1834, with nine other convicts, he seized the brig Frederick and sailed her to Chile. They landed at Valdivia where they assumed new identities as shipwrecked sailors. In 1836 Porter was arrested, returned to England, and transported again to Tasmania, arriving in 1837 on the Sarah. He was sentenced to death for piracy, but the sentence was commuted and he was transported to Norfolk Island. After four years of good behaviour he was transferred to the mainland. In May 1847 he absconded from Newcastle, supposedly on the brig Sir John Byng. He was never heard of again.
  • Scope and Content
    Porter's autobiography was written on Norfolk Island, probably with encouragement of the superintendent, Alexander Maconochie. It commences in childhood, relating incidents which Porter considered led to his becoming a convict. It also includes details of his life at sea, in Chile, and in Tasmania when serving his first sentence of transportation. It gives a full description of the seizure of the Frederick, his second period in Chile, his arrest and return to Tasmania and his transportation to Norfolk Island (1 vol. 64 pp.).
  • Source
    Bequest of Sir William Dixson, 1952
  • General note

    The autobiography is dated from Porter's statement that it was written at Norfolk Island while Maconochie was superintendent there. Maconochie held this position from 1840-1844.
    Watermark 1837.
    There are several other versions of Porter's autobiography in existence. The best known was published in the Hobart Town Almanac & Van Diemen's Land Annual for 1838. It was written while Porter was a prisoner in Hobart Town Gaol and originally appeared in 1837 in the form of a petition to the Colonial Secretary. The Dixson Library has another version (DLMSQ 168: CY 2754, frames 153-235, with typescript copy, frames 236-328) which is similar to DLMSQ 604 without corresponding exactly. Both these versions were written on Norfolk Island. In addition there is a curious memoir titled The Recollections of James Connor a Returned Convict which was published in the Fife Herald in 1845. It has some striking similarities to Porter's autobiographies and it is worth noting that on the convict indent for the Sarah he is listed as James Connor, while James O'Connor was an alias he used in Chile. However there are sufficient inconsistencies in this memoir to cast doubt on its authenticity. Possibly it is an alamagam of the experiences several convicts. In 1847 a variant version appeared in Montreal under the title Recollections of a Convict and Miscellaneous Pieces by Y-Le.
    DLMSQ 604 was copied onto preservation microfilm (CY 3620), Nov. 1996.
    Digital order no:Album ID : 976985
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