Friday, August 27, 2010

The Story of Patrick McCarthy - Part 1

Born in 1777 in the parish of KeelGardoff, County Cork, Ireland, Patrick became a weaver by trade. On 6 March 1800, Patrick enlisted in the British Army - the 25th Regiment of Foot. He was about 23 years old, 5ft 4ins in height with a fair complexion, round visage, hazel eyes and black hair.

While serving with the 25th Regiment of Foot, Patrick was stationed at Gibraltar, where he became involved in a mutiny.

The men of the garrison at Gibraltar had a relatively easy life until the arrival of the Duke of York (Prince Edward) in March 1802.  The Duke was unimpressed with the laxity of the men and imposed strict discipline.  In particular, he introduced evening curfews and rigourous training drills by day to improve the sobriety of the men.  A significant trade in alcohol had grown at Gibraltar, founded on sales to the soldiers of the garrison. 92 pubs serviced 7,000 soldiers and civilians.

Payment Method - Value One Quart (Payable at R.  Keelings, Gibralter [sic] 1802)

Eventually, the Duke closed down most of the taverns. A plot was hatched by some of the soldiers to kill the Duke of York. On Christmas Eve 1802, they marched on Edward's quarters, demanding their grievances be heard. They were dispersed by shots fired by loyal guards. Two days later, the rebellion again escalated. The mutineers were fired upon with cannon, wounding 6 and killing 3 in the brief action. Again, the mood settled into an uneasy calm, but on 31 December 1802, the mutineers tried to kill their own officers. The Duke arrested the mutineers and ordered an immediate court martial. It was quick and decisive - 10 men were condemned to death, but only 3 executions were carried out. The remaining 7 soldiers were sentenced to transportation to Australia for life.  One of these 7 soldiers was Patrick McCarthy.

On 4 January 1803, the 7 mutineers were shipped back to England. On arrival at Portsmouth, they were immediately transferred to HMS Calcutta, a naval ship loaded with convicts ready for transportation to Australia.  HMS Calcutta sailed very shortly afterward, with the supply ship Ocean, bound for Port Phillip and under instructions to establish a new settlement there.

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