Book 2 of the Macquarie Series
The Australian Penal Colony
Ms. Browne’s books, although historical novels, are based on as much information as she could find in existing records and her hero did live and he did do these things. This book is a sequel to her first book about Lachlin Macquarie, a Scot, who joined the British Army when very young, was shipped to different British battles, but primarily lived and fought in India. Lachlin was an extraordinary man, high in integrity and self-discipline and through his common sense and intelligence, rose through the British military ranks. He married the love of his life, Jane, who made a wonderful military wife and he freed from a slave market an eight year old boy, whom they named George. Jane died, which almost crushed Lachlin. He and Jane had been raising George as their son. Jane’s maiden name was Jarvis and the boy took the name of George Jarvis.
This story begins with George as a grown man, having completed college and spending all of his spare time with Lachlin back in Scotland. After two years, Lachlin met a lovely Scottish lady named Elizabeth, whom he married. Out of the blue, Lachlin was informed by the Duke of Wellington that he and General John Moore advised the King to send Lachlin to the British penal colony of New South Wales to straighten it out after the British soldiers had rebelled against Gov. Wm. Bligh and everything was chaos. Lachlin didn’t want to go, but finally was persuaded and his 73rd regiment was loaded on two ships, along with his own family. It took several months to reach New South Wales.
The conditions were terrible. Convicts were treated as slaves and brutaly whipped. The colony was starving and the convicts and soldiers had no shoes, their clothes rotting off of them. Men in command had taken supplies such as shoes, clothing and food as provided by the British government for the penal colony and sold them. Convicts could never gain their freedom. Convict women and girls were sold off as wives or prostitutes. There were free men and women who went to Australia to farm as they heard it was the land of opportunity. They felt better than the convicts and felt they should be treated as such. Then there were an elitist group, who settled there to make their fortunes and fought Lachlin at every turn. There was no decent housing, no medical facilities, nor schools nor had the Aboriginals been treated other than like animals.
As he did in India, Lachlin took firm control, set out many new laws to give incentives to the convicts to do well and one day gain their freedom; he raised the living standards relative to women and girls, built a church, started a bank and worked many hours daily to fulfill a vision he had. This story is his life and his trials and tribulations in attempting to turn this penal colony into a country and the reader will laugh and cry with the Macquaries. I loved both books and I highly recommend this one.