PALMER, Thomas Fyshe.

A Narrative of the Sufferings of T. F. Palmer and W. Skirving, during a Voyage to New South Wales, 1794, on board the Surprise Transport.

Cambridge: by Benjamin Flower for W. H. Lunn, J. Deighton, and J. Nicholson, 1797 Stock Code: 119455
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First edition of this scarce contribution to early Australian convict literature, three copies traced at auction in the last 40 years; ESTC locates three copies in Australasian libraries, at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington, Auckland Museum Library, and the State Library of South Australia.

Palmer (1747-1802), a Unitarian minister, was sentenced to seven years' transportation for circulating a controversial handbill, despite support from Charles James Fox, Earl Stanhope and others. "On 11 February 1794 he, William Skirving and Thomas Muirall three numbered among the reformers known as the 'Scottish martyrs'were sent on board the Surprise with a gang of convicts to Botany Bay" (ODNB). On the journey Palmer was falsely accused of inciting a mutiny and was confined to his cabin, while other convicts were flogged. The ship arrived at Port Jackson on 25 October and Palmer and his companions, possessing letters of introduction to the governor, were treated well. Palmer's narrative, and the depositions of the ship's surgeon and several members of the New South Wales Corps against Captain Campbell, are all signed Sydney or Port Jackson, 1794, and were edited by Palmer's fellow Unitarian minister Jeremiah Joyce.

He entered into a partnership, Boston & Co., with two other exiles, which became "one of the pioneer trading concerns in the colony" (ADB). Men of some considerable enterprise, they became involved in brewing, farming, sealing, and shipbuilding. They travelled to Norfolk Island, Fiji, Macau, and the sealing grounds of Bass Strait.

After Palmer's sentence expired, he bought a Spanish prize of war, the El Plumier. The passengers and crew were taken captive by the Spanish after being forced to put in to Guguan, and Palmer succumbed shortly after to dysentery. He and his fellow exiles are commemorated in a monument at the Calton burying-ground, Edinburgh, erected in 1844. There was a second edition later the same year.

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Octavo in half-sheets (207 x 122 mm). Recent sprinkled calf to style, raised bands gilt to spine, gilt octofoils to compartments, red morocco label, edges dyed yellow, marbled endpapers.


Bound without the advertisement leaf. Pale marking to sig. D3. A very good, crisp copy.


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