Van Dieman's Land

Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) 1817-1824

Back To 48th Foot .The Northamptonshire Regiment 1817 - 1824
Lieutenant Henry Edward Robinson led the first party of the 48th to Van Diemen's Land, leaving Sydney,
September 1817 with a small detachment of one Corporal (John Simpson) and nineteen Privates on board the transport "Pilot" as guards of 279 convicts. They arrived at Hobart Town on the 28th of September 1817. Corporal John Simpson and three privates returned to Sydney in November on board the "Frederick" as escort guards for two soldiers of the 46th charged with murder. Lieutenant Henry Edward Robinson was to spend most of his remaining service time in Van Diemans Land . It was not until 1853 that Van Dieman's Land became known as Tasmania.
On the 24th of March, Major General Cimitiere ( one of very few to actually earn his rank without
purchase) with Lieutenent John Cuthbertson , Ensign Lachlan McAllister and 80 men of Captain Watkins company of the 48th set sail for Port Dalrymple. They were to replace Stewarts 46th regiment who had become uncontrolable. The 46th were to be sent to India, while serving in Van Dieman's Land they had robbed and destroyed property, had become insubordinate and were in a total state of disarray . Major Cimitiere on leaving Sydney also carried with him very strict orders to remove the chief settlement at Port Dalrymple,issued by Govenor Macquarie. This was carried out and the settlement moved to George Town, a site chosen by Macquarie. On May the 25th 1819, the garrison moved to Georgetown. Many of the tasks of the 48th was the pursuit of convicts. This occurred on many occasions and became a very mundane chore of the 48th, but was always carried out with diligence.
A bushsranger of Van Dieman's Land, Michael Howe , (Royal Navy & Army deserter ) who had been
transported for highway robbery absconded, returned to his robbery trade was eventually killed during a gun fight with the pursuing members of the 48th. In a published account of this incident,Howe was run down by two members of the 48th (Major Bell and Private William Pugh known in the regiment as Big Bill ,at 5'2" tall it was a very strange title. ) . Pugh, being the one to remove Howe's head. Beheading at this time was to be, according to records, a fit ending for any bushranger.
During the 48th's service in Van Diemens's scandal and inuendo followed them in many ways, bringing
disrepute to the regiment . In all cases it involved the officers, and not the men, who were to be responsible for the name of the 48th being bought in such disrepute . Cimitiere and many other officers eventually having to answer to Colonol James Erskin commander of the 48th for their actions.
During the 48th's term in Van Dieman's Land ,they were responsible for the capture of many
escaped convicts, more than any regiment stationed before and after their departure. Undoubtedly, the major achievement of the 48th regiment in Van Diemen's Land was the establishment of the settlement at Macquarie Harbour. The opinion of the time was that the convicts were subjected to harsh conditions in this secondary settlement. This view haunted the 48th for many years. One should take into account the conditions , the terrain and the position of this harsh part of Van Dieman's Land. Lack of access and communication as well as the many terrain difficulties to overcome made the final achievment by both the 48th regiment and their charges one to be admired not condemened.
On the 7th of April 1824, the 48th regiments service was ended in Van Diemen's land .On return of
the regiment ,from Macquarie Harbour, 1 Captain ( Major) [ Brevet Major Bell ] 1- Ensign , 5-Sergeants, 5- Corporals, 1- Drummer , 132- privates, with 32 wives and 72 children departed on the "Tritan" for India , The 48th had done their duty in Van Diemen's Land.
Excerpt from Clem Sargant's book THE COLONIAL GARRISON 1818-1824 published 1996
Accounts from local residents & library material (.,personal memoirs of those mentioned above.)
The information is intended for historical value only

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Copyright B & M Chapman (QLD) Australia

Last revised: March 01, 2002.