What else was happening in Australia?

Reading other genealogy and family history blogs and posts is inspiring. One idea I’ve been impressed by is having a timeline of the historical background to someone’s life.

So here is what was happening in Australia during the time Nicholas Delaney was there, from his arrival in 1802 to 1810. I’ll cover the next two decades in later posts.


Approximately 6,000 people lived in the colony of New South Wales. Men outnumbered women by about 20 to 1. Philip Gidley King was Governor.

English: Pemulwuy

Aboriginal man (via Wikipedia)

June After a twelve-year guerilla campaign, Eora leader Pemulwuy was shot and killed. His son Tedbury would continue the resistance for eight more years.

October 30 Nicholas Delaney, aboard the convict ship Atlas II, arrives in Sydney Cove along with 189 other Irish political prisoners. Nicholas was assigned to Major George Johnston of the New South Wales Corps.


By now a total of 2086 Irish convicts were in Australia.

A second major settlement was established, in Van Diemen’s Land, now Tasmania.

May 15 James Dixon, Irish priest convicted of ‘complicity’ in the 1798 Rebellion, conducted the first Catholic Mass in New South Wales.


The population of the colony neared 7,000. One third were dependent on Government rations.

English: A painting by an unknown artist depic...

Battle of Castle Hill (Vinegar Hill) via Wikipedia

March 4 The first armed uprising in the colony, led by veterans of the Irish Rebellion of 1798, took place at Castle Hill. Also known as the second Battle of Vinegar Hill, it was put down by troops led by Nicholas’s master, George Johnston. Reprisals were swift and brutal.

One consequence was the Catholic Mass being banned. 1798 had a long arm.

In England to be court-martialled, John Macarthur of the NSW Corps convinced the British government that farming sheep for wool on a large scale would be beneficial.


The explorer Matthew Flinders, the first to circumnavigate the continent, proposed that it should be named Australia. The new name proved popular.


August William Bligh arrived as the new Governor, intent on cutting Government expenditure and curbing corrupt practices including the trade in spirits carried out by the ‘Rum’ Corps. His authoritarian attitude made him unpopular – not for the first time in his life.


Bligh decided that small crop and livestock farmers were the future of the colony, not large landowners or sheep breeders.

May Elizabeth Bayly arrived on the Brothers as a free settler.


A propaganda cartoon of the arrest of Governor...

Arrest of Governor Bligh (propoganda cartoon)

26 January The ‘Rum Rebellion’. The NSW Corps under George Johnston arrested Bligh and installed a new government.

For two years the colony was to be under military rule, headed by Lieutenant-Governors William Paterson and, later, Joseph Foveaux.

Nicholas Delaney’s term of service with Johnston ended; he became a Government overseer in Sydney.

October 17 Nicholas and Elizabeth were married by Major Abbott.


In England, it was decided that naval officers were not the best men to govern New South Wales. The Rum Corps was to be replaced by the 73rd Regiment of Foot and Major-General Lachlan Macquarie was to be the next Governor.

December Nicholas was told he had a free pardon and was granted a lease of land.

The next decade would bring a new regime for Australia and a new life for Nicholas.

I’ve used several sources for this timeline, including those cited in full in A Rebel Hand: Nicholas Delaney of 1798: From Ireland to Australia. The most detailed online is Australian History Timeline, and the Australian Dictionary of Biography and Wikipedia are useful.
If you spot anything I’ve left out, do let me know and I’ll add it.
PS: I’ve been trying to remember if there was one specific blog which inspired this timeline. It may have been Olive Tree Genealogy Blog, Family History Fun – or another. It could well have been a discussion on the Australian Genealogy Facebook page.
Has your blog or website got a timeline?



 © Frances Owen and A Rebel Hand, 2010-2014

About rebelhand

A Rebel Hand is: about Nicholas Delaney, Irish rebel of 1798, transported as a convict to New South Wales, roadbuilder, innkeeper and farmer. My great-great-great grandfather. Other ancestors transported to Australia, like Sarah Marshall, John Simpson and James Thomas Richards, pop up as well. This blog's also about the historical background to their lives, in England, Ireland, and Australia. My respectable Welsh ancestors sometimes get a look in.
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