The author of this remarkable three-volume memoir, Major Thomas Bunbury (born 1791), was an early Victorian professional soldier and penal administrator who briefly ran the infamous Norfolk Island penal colony in Australia. Bunbury joined the army in 1807, just in time to fight in the Peninsular War. After service in India, he arrived in Australia and was placed in command of Norfolk Island, the colony’s second penal settlement. He was confident in his ability to manage the hardened convicts under his command. He wrote that he could not understand why “a villain who has been guilty of every enormity, should feel shame at having his back scratched with the cat-o’-nine-tails when he felt none for his atrocious crimes.” He also claimed that “if a man is too sick to work he is too sick to eat” and claimed that the queue at the hospital was halved. Although his punishments were harsh, he replaced hand-hoeing with ploughs, rewarded good behaviour with improved jobs and gave older convicts lighter work. He earned the ire of the soldiers on the island by ordering the destruction of huts built on the small gardens they kept for their own use and for trafficking with the convicts. The soldiers mutinied, a warship was sent to restore peace and Bunbury was recalled in July 1839. This is a book for anyone interested in early Australian history and its convicts.
REMINISCENCES OF A VETERAN
Published in association with The National Army Museum London, this is the three-volume memoir of the soldier who ran Norfolk Island – one of Australia’s harshest penal colonies – and whose over-robust rule resulted in a mutiny and his speedy removal from the post.