Cas­tle Hill Re­bel­lion

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - Front Page -

DID YOU KNOW there was an up­ris­ing against the gov­ern­ment in 1804 in Cas­tle Hill?

The Cas­tle Hill up­ris­ing had been planned for at least a month by a small group at the gov­ern­ment farm. Con­victs at other set­tle­ments were not told about it un­til two days be­fore the break­out to pre­vent the au­thor­i­ties be­ing fore­warned. At eight o’clock on the evening of Sunday March 4, 1804, one of the small huts oc­cu­pied by the pris­on­ers at the farm was de­lib­er­ately set alight and a bell rung. Whilst the guard’s at­ten­tion was di­verted by the fire, Philip Cun­ning­ham, who was the overseer of the stone­ma­sons and sup­ported by other pris­on­ers, broke into the stores where firearms and am­mu­ni­tion were kept. Cun­ning­ham made a speech re­veal­ing his plans for the con­quest of the colony and ex­plained they would be sup­ported by ris­ings in other set­tle­ments. The rebels di­vided into three raid­ing par­ties and set out in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions to col­lect re­cruits. Dur­ing this night they burst in on set­tlers in their iso­lated farm­houses – in­clud­ing Macarthur’s farm in the Pen­nant Hills re­gion – and took weapons. The par­ties were to meet on a hill (Con­sti­tu­tion Hill) near Par­ra­matta at day­break and en­ter the town. The Syd­ney Gazette’s re­port on the re­bel­lion stated that Cun­ning­ham planned to plant the ‘Tree of Lib­erty’ at Gov­ern­ment House, Par­ra­matta, be­fore pro­ceed­ing on to Syd­ney, board­ing a ship and sail­ing home to Ire­land. Such was the al­most ro­man­tic view by these Ir­ish­men of mount­ing a re­volt against the colo­nial gov­ern­ment led by Gov­er­nor King. They had al­ready fought for free­dom in Ire­land and con­sid­ered their life sen­tences in New South Wales to be in­tol­er­a­ble. They could not see any so­lu­tion to their predica­ment, ex­cept to try to unite in suf­fi­cient strength to be able to seize the ships in Syd­ney Har­bour and leave the colony.

Ex­tracted from‘ In Search of the Penn ant Hills ’, chap­ter5.

Find the many trea­sures of the Hills in the Award­win­ning book “In Search of the Pen­nant Hills”

“An ex­em­plary lo­cal his­tory, full of ge­nealog­i­cal and bi­o­graph­i­cal de­tail, beau­ti­fully pub­lished”.… DE­SCENT, jour­nal of the So­ci­ety of Aus­tralian Ge­neal­o­gists now avail­able at Pen­nant Hills Phar­macy; Chil­dren’s & Capella Book­shop, Beecroft; Banjo Books, Ep­ping; Old Church Book­shop, Car­ling­ford; Ken­thurst Newsagency or write P.O. Box 176 Ken­thurst 2156. Trevor Pa­trick is a lo­cal his­to­rian and au­thor. He gives talks to in­ter­est groups.

Hills Dis­trict His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety Museum, cnr Show­ground & Wind­sor Roads Cas­tle Hill OPEN se­cond Satur­day of month 10am to 4pm.

Hills Dis­trict His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety Guest Speaker & Gen­eral meet­ing, Hopetoun Leisure Cen­tre, David Road, Cas­tle Hill, third Mon­day of month, 7.30pm, vis­i­tors very wel­come.

Visit www.hill­story.com.au

Pic­ture cap­tion: Con­victs were treated harshly Pic­ture iden­ti­fi­ca­tion: Con­vict lash­ing

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