Monday, 26 December 2011

Meeting of Support for Bligh

 More notes from Bligh's other mutiny by Stephen Dando-Collins

When Bligh returned to Sydney in 1810 Lachlan Macquarie had arrived to become Governor of the Colony. Bligh was to re-instated for one day with power then transferred to Macquarie. Before Bligh left for London it was proposed that a public meeting should be held to prepare a letter of support for the former Governor from his supporters  to be published in the London papers. The meeting  was held on 11 April at the New Church (St Phillip's) and chaired by Provost Marshall Gore where "the resolution was passed unanimously by the Bligh supporters, without the rebels voting for or against. Palmer, Fulton, Hassall and Birnie (Bligh supporters) signed the resolution and left. Then Simeon Lord and Gregory Blaxland stood and asked to put a counter resolution. Gore refused to allow it, so Baxland and Lord grabbed the first resolution and went storming off to Government House. The meeting broke up. Shortly after, Gore was summoned to Governor Macquarie.

Macquarie was fuming. 'I expect on such an occasion, Mr Gore, you should act impartially, in putting to the meeting such questions as they wished to have proposed.'

Tail between his legs, Gore returned to the church, where only the pro-rebel party remained. Lord was there, along with Blaxland, Wentworth, Bayly, Blaxcell, Kable, Underwood, Captain Anthony Fenn Kemp, Lieutenant Lawson, Lieutenant John Oxley of HMS Porpoise, and William Cox Senior, the former paymaster of the NSW Corps who had recently returned to the colony from England as a civilian after resigning his commission.At 3.00 pm Gore reconvened the meeting and allowed Blaxland and Lord to propose their resolution, which was passed unanimously by their supporters and put in writing. This resolution declared that the original meeting had only been convened to 'provoke and renew animosities', and declared full support for governor Macquarie's proclamation of 1 January 'recommending harmony and a conciliatory spirit'. It also called upon Gore to sign this latest resolution as the meeting's chairman and to have it published twice in the Gazette.

As Gore was signing the resolution, Lord, Blaxland and Cox told the others that they would go to Parramatta and the Hawkesbury to counter any pro-Bligh addresses being presented to public meetings there. Once Gore had signed this second resolution, he held it out to Blaxland, Wentworth, Lord and their friends to sign. Not one of them was prepared to put their name to it. Apart from Gore's signature, it remained unsigned. Gore took both the pro-Bligh resolution and the rebel counter resolution to Macquarie suggesting that His Excellency allow the publication of both. Macquarie chose to publish neither." (pp 221-222)

Before Bligh left New South Wales his supporters presented him with the original Loyal Address containing 460 signatures.

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