“He was a clever chiel Geordie, tae be only a weaver”: George Mealmaker

By Alexander Cameron-Smith

Supported by a Create NSW Arts and Cultural Grant – Old Parramattans & Female Factory

George Mealmaker, a Scottish weaver from Dùn Dèagh (Dundee) sentenced to transportation for sedition in 1798, has been called ‘the Forgotten Martyr.’[1] In 1880, the great-grandson of one reformer wondered at the ‘unaccountable reason’ why Mealmaker’s name had not been included on the Dùn Èideann (Edinburgh) memorial alongside his English and Scottish colleagues, who had been sentenced to transportation in 1793. Mealmaker, he wrote, was a ‘zealous and fearless reformer,’ who trusted to ‘reason and the diffusion of knowledge,’ which were ‘more powerful weapons than pikes and muskets.’[2] As an early member of the Dundee Friends of Liberty and a delegate to radical conventions in Alba (Scotland) in the 1790s, Mealmaker was just as active in agitating for political reform as the other ‘Scotch Martyrs’ who were transported in 1794.[3] His writings played a significant role in articulating the values and agenda of Scottish reformers in this period whilst he did more than most to cultivate relationships with other reformers in Britain.

On the left is the Political Martyrs Monument in the Old Calton Burial Ground on Calton Hill, Dùn Èideann (Edinburgh), Alba (Scotland), by Carlos Delgado (2013) (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons. The monument is a Category A listed memorial to five political prisoners transported to New South Wales. It is a 90 ft obelisk of grey-black sandstone blocks on a square-plan base plinth. On one side is inscribed: “To the memory of Thomas Muir, Thomas Fyshe Palmer, William Skirving, Maurice Margarot and Joseph Gerrald. Erected by the Friends of Parliamentary Reform In England and Scotland. 1844.” George Mealmaker’s name is notably absent, which has resulted in him being referred to as “The Forgotten Martyr.” On another face are quotations from two of the men commemorated on the monument: “I have devoted myself to the cause of The People. It is a good cause—it shall ultimately prevail—it shall finally triumph.” — Speech of Thomas Muir in the Court of Justiciary on the 30th of August 1793. “I know that what has been done these two days will be Re-Judged.”— Speech of William Skirving in the Court of Justiciary on the 7th of January 1794. The Governor’s House is the building in the centre of the image.

Mealmaker remained committed to a cause of reform driven underground by state repression. In the years after his colleagues’ transportation in 1794, he became a key figure in the United Scotsmen, a shadowy society that modelled its secrecy, oath-taking, and organisation on the United Irishmen.[4] Although Mealmaker always swore that he sought only peaceful reform, the British authorities regarded his writing and his organising as sedition bordering on treason and sentenced him to transportation. To some of the political transportees, the colony appeared to offer opportunities for progress. Governor King gave Mealmaker such a chance by appointing him to oversee a local textile industry at the new Parramatta Gaol, with a salary and conditional pardon.[5] In January 1808, Mealmaker even put his name to an address to William Bligh, signed by over 800 settlers, calling on the Governor to allow free trade with Britain and institute trial by jury.[6] But just a few weeks earlier, a fire at the Parramatta Gaol had partially destroyed the work that Mealmaker had done. Bligh had neglected King’s weaving industry whilst the mutiny against the Governor did nothing to improve Mealmaker’s fortunes. He died in Parramatta, Burramattagal Country in March 1808, apparently destitute.[7] Mealmaker’s life in Australia was thus marked by hope, followed by misfortune and tragedy. He was given an opportunity to apply his skills as an artisan but then saw it all destroyed by accidents and the violence of colonial politics.

Revolution, Reform, and Repression

The founding of New South Wales took place roughly sixteen months prior to the French Revolution. In Britain, the events in France prompted an explosion of speeches, sermons, and pamphleteering, supported by an expanding number of periodicals and societies like the Friends of the People.[8] In the early years of the revolution, it was not uncommon for leading public figures to praise the French, albeit through self-congratulatory references to England’s own ‘Glorious’ revolution in 1688.[9] In reality, the landed classes in eighteenth-century Britain enjoyed enormous power whilst many regarded the House of Commons as a profoundly corrupt and unrepresentative body that had failed to contain the power of the royal state.[10] Struggles between the propertied classes and labourers had been going on for much of the century, yet progressive social elites inspired by Enlightenment ideals also began pursuing their own reform agenda. In the 1780s, Scottish Whigs began campaigning for political reform at the town and county level.[11] This kind of moderate political reform, led by urban middle classes, sought only a limited extension of voting rights, let alone universal suffrage.[12] Yet many of the ‘lower orders,’ particularly skilled artisans and small shopkeepers, had a growing self-confidence. When the French Revolution broke out, they began demanding greater representation in Parliament, especially through more frequent elections and universal male suffrage.[13]

Weavers were heavily represented in the more radical democratic reform societies in Alba (Scotland).[14] The 1790s was a transitional period in the textile industry across Britain. Production had not yet been concentrated in factories, but whilst some towns did expand to accommodate growth of the industry, it was still spread throughout the countryside.[15] The tradition of a master weaver, working with a few apprentices and journeyman in a small workshop near or adjoining their residence, was the main productive unit. By the 1790s, however, the ‘putting-out’ system had replaced the direct relationship between the master artisan and his customers. Merchants now supplied yarn to weavers, who produced textiles for those merchants to sell. Weavers were thus becoming something closer to employees of those with capital. Yet it is also clear that they maintained some independence, and importantly, a self-image as independent, skilled artisans.[16] Tradesmen had previously formed temporary associations to protect their income and conditions, but historians find little evidence of a strong class consciousness.[17] High wages for weavers in the 1780s had allowed the accumulation of some capital, which created respect for private property, pride in skills and educational attainments, and expectations of upward social mobility. It was altogether possible that merchants had been successful weavers. The social distance between weavers and merchants was therefore not so great.[18] All of this created a sense of entitlement to political participation amongst a group of people who wanted to be recognised as self-made, reasoning citizens.[19]

John Kay, George Mealmaker, 1798, etching, (London, 1838), PIC Drawer 7734 #S9877 / nla.obj-136103605, National Library of Australia via Trove.

Mealmaker was likely a weaver of some stature. An official report in 1793 dismissed him as ‘a common unlettered weaver.’[20] One historical account published in the Aberdeen People’s Journal in 1885 described Mealmaker as ‘not an educated man,’ and the language of his 1793 handbill as ‘more vigorous than elegant or grammatical.’[21] Yet Mealmaker also saw his books as important parts of his aspirations as a skilled artisan. John Kay recalled that Mealmaker was ‘an extensive weaver … at a period when the giant power of steam had not come into competition with the hand loom.’[22] Kay’s portrait of Mealmaker, dated 1798, depicts a well-dressed man holding a number of papers.[23] In the pamphlet that led to his trial, The Moral and Political Catechism of Man (1797), Mealmaker narrated his arrest a few years earlier, including the anguish of being ‘robbed of my books and papers, the labour of years, which I accounted more valuable than their weight in gold.’[24] Education was clearly valuable to Mealmaker and men like him. In a letter to the London Corresponding Society in 1795, he reported that he was trying to revive the Dundee Friends of Liberty. At a time when reformers in Alba (Scotland) were supposed to be licking their wounds, Mealmaker asserted that a ‘a spirit of enquiry is manifest among all descriptions of people,’ though they needed guidance, ‘like babes lisping to speak, or unlettered persons learning the first rudiments of literature.’[25] The Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the LCS congratulated Mealmaker on reforming that ‘Society for the laudable purpose of enlightening the deluded, misguided, and uninformed part of our countrymen.’[26] ‘It is through ignorance the world suffers,’ they wrote, ‘and in exact proportion to the want of knowledge despotism prevails.’[27] During Mealmaker’s trial in 1798, a member of the United Scotsmen, Alexander Smith, gave evidence describing the movement as belonging to the ‘common people,’ rather than being dependent on the support of reformers amongst the gentry.[28] All this suggests an image of Mealmaker as being amongst those skilled, independently-minded artisans, who had worked hard at self-improvement and now felt strongly about their political rights as educated, reasoning citizens with an interest in government.

Mealmaker joined the Dundee Friends of Liberty in 1791 but also cultivated relationships with the Friends of the People and the London Correspondence Society.[29] Reform societies organised meetings to exchange and debate ideas, and Mealmaker was an official delegate of the Friends of Liberty to the Third Scottish and the British Conventions in 1793.[30] Moderate reformers had been active in Alba (Scotland) since the 1780s, focusing on local burgh and county reform. They had agitated for an expansion of the franchise, but stopped well short of universal suffrage. Thomas Grugar, writing under the pen name ‘Zeno’ in 1782, argued that,

To admit the dregs of the populace to a share in government, would be both imprudent and improper. They are disqualified by a natural ignorance… But men in the middle ranks of life, who generally constitute the majority of every free community, cannot be excluded from a voice in the appointment of their representatives.[31]

At a 1785 convention, Scottish Whigs resolved ‘Against the great and real evil of universal suffrage, by establishing reasonable qualifications of property and respectability of condition in the electors.’[32] The radical reformers came from amongst the weavers, wrights, and shopkeepers, and the social and cultural gaps between them and the moderate reformers were evidently harder to bridge. They did share a conviction that corruption in the House of Commons had undermined its role as a check on the power of the Crown and executive branch. The radical reformers of the 1790s had tried to recruit these older reformers to the cause, but the few Whigs who were sympathetic did not participate in the First Convention in December 1792 and finally broke away when radicals adopted universal suffrage as a fundamental goal in the following year.[33]

Mealmaker was a leading figure of the Dundee Friends of Liberty, alongside Thomas Muir and the English dissenting minister Thomas Fyshe Palmer. Muir and Palmer were influential delegates at the First Convention of the Friends of the People in Alba (Scotland), late in 1792.[34] Mealmaker himself served as a delegate to the Third Convention and the subsequent British Convention in 1793, alongside other English and Scottish reformers, such as Joseph Gerrald, Maurice Margarot, and William Skirving.[35]

In July 1793 the Dundee Friends of Liberty endorsed and published an address to ‘Friends and Fellow-citizens,’ drafted by Mealmaker and revised at a general meeting. The Address incorporates the concrete demands of universal suffrage and frequent elections with calls for general parliamentary reforms. ‘That portion of liberty you once enjoyed is fast setting, we fear, in the darkness of despotism and tyranny,’ it read: ‘Too soon, perhaps, you, who were the world’s envy, as possessed of some small portion of liberty, will be sunk in the depths of slavery and misery, if you prevent it not by your well-timed efforts.’[36] The Address asked its readers to remember their ‘patriotic ancestors’ and join the struggle to recover ‘our long lost rights.’[37] It was also a statement against war with France, a decision made by a ‘wicked ministry and a compliant parliament’: ‘your treasure is wasting fast; the blood of your brethren is pouring out; and all this to form chains for a free people, and eventually to rivet them for ever on yourselves.’[38] The language of the Address was thus forceful and provocative, expressing a sense of urgency and claiming a tradition of liberty for its framers.

Palmer took responsibility for printing and distributing the address and, although the authorities acknowledged Mealmaker’s authorship, it was Palmer who faced charges of sedition in September 1793. Palmer’s counsel based their defence on traditional freedom of the press and the right to ‘canvas public measures of Government.’[39] The court ultimately dismissed these arguments, the judges arguing that such rights cannot protect a man who ‘commits a crime.’[40] The charge of sedition gave the judges, Alexander, Lord Abercromby, and David Rae, Lord Eskgrove, wide latitude to determine what kinds of speech were legitimate and what kinds were crimes:

You have heard, Gentlemen, that Reform is a fair object. But it remains with you to judge, whether such language as that contained in this paper is most likely to promote reform or sedition … Universal suffrage, they can never enjoy; whether then it is legal to tell them they have such a right?[41]

The judges also argued that the timing of the Address was also suspect. ‘This paper was published after the French Revolution and all its horrors had taken place,’ noted Abercromby: ‘The writings of Paine had poisoned the minds of the lower class of people; after the country was been so universally alarmed – this was the time chosen for its publication.’[42] Mealmaker stated during the trial that he was not sure that the Friends of Liberty would petition for reform after the Address: ‘what we were to do afterwards was to be guided by circumstances; we were not sure as to that of petitioning any more.’[43] The judges took this as evidence of a sinister plan to abandon peaceful means, though other witnesses assured them that the Friends of Liberty were simply determined to persist despite the failure of a recent reform motion.[44] Mealmaker also sought to downplay the nature of the Address he had written, saying,

We meant nothing in the world but to make way to their feelings, and not to their passions. We had no idea of sedition in it; and if there was, it was from want of knowledge in us; our ignorance was to blame. What we expected from it was, in the course of our prosecution to cause a reform, we thought it necessary to put forth a paper of the kind, to animate our fellow-citizens to go on in getting that redress which we had not yet got.[45]

An image of Mealmaker emerges from these proceedings as a driven reformer who was dedicated also to educating and awakening those around him. In the wake of the trials of Thomas Muir and Palmer, who were both sentenced to transportation, Mealmaker participated in the Third Convention in October 1793, which became the British Convention  after reconvening with delegates from England.[46] The conventions were quickly dispersed by the authorities. Joseph Gerrald and Maurice Margarot were sentenced to transportation, as was William Skirving, the Secretary of the Edinburgh Friends of the People. Mealmaker and Robert Sands fled to Obar Bhrothaig (Arbroath), but were also arrested before being released in May 1794.[47]

Transported for Sedition, (1793), R 350 / FL6639578, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

Mealmaker was arrested in May 1794 and questioned, but not charged, on suspicion of being involved in Robert Watt’s plan to seize Edinburgh Castle and overthrow the government. As the image on the right indicates, Watt was executed for this offence. [Left] John Kay, Robert Watt: The Traitorous Spy, (1794), NPG D16688, (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). © National Portrait Gallery, London. [Right]The execution and decapitation of [Robert] WattThe Newgate Calendar, Vol. III, (Knapp & Baldwin, 1794), p. 209, (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Government repression had scattered and intimidated reformers, yet Mealmaker felt no less strongly. The ‘arbitrary proceedings of the enemies to Liberty,’ he informed the London Corresponding Society, ‘operated in so terrifying a manner on the Scots Patriots… that … their spirits sunk beneath the standard of mediocrity … their efforts … languid… the sacred flame which had been kindled in their breasts almost extinguished.’[48] He continued to organise, though he now did so in greater secrecy. The entanglement of Mealmaker’s politics and religion are especially pronounced in his writings in this period. In 1795 he wrote a sermon, published anonymously in London, on Psalm LXXVI, which declares that God ‘shall cut off the spirit of princes: he is terrible to the kings of the earth.’ Mealmaker took this as inspiration for the righteous to persist in the cause of reform:

He will cut off their spirits by taking away their power and dominion, whereby they have tyrannized over the poor and the meek upon earth… he will cut off their titles, .. their riches, .. their lives.[49]

Kingship, he argued, was an inheritance of Nimrod and therefore not divine. The example of the French Revolution again brought hope in the form of God’s judgement of the ruling classes: ‘I think it will not be long before His appearance will make His enemies here tremble also, and wander in a wilderness where there is no road; and as that will be a time of war, trouble, and great judgement you ought seriously to prepare for it.’[50] Palmer’s participation in the Friends of Liberty reflects the general entanglement of dissenting clergy and the cause of political reform, yet Mealmaker, who was an elder in the Dundee Relief Church, also highlights the role of lay theology in such movements.[51]

Mealmaker developed his ideas further in a 1797 pamphlet entitled A Moral and Political Catechism of Man. It was a conventional, if forcefully written, work that reiterated key Enlightenment ideals and familiar political demands. ‘Man is a rational and social creature,’ he wrote, ‘possessing powers and faculties which, if cultivated and brought into act, make him a noble and exalted creature, the image of the Eternal.’[52] E. W. McFarland points out that Mealmaker often employed Deist terminology that associated human reason with the ‘Supreme Being.’[53] Whilst the reasoning individual possessed fundamental rights, Mealmaker also recognised the importance of cultivating friendship and solidarity between those seeking to secure those rights in practice. The present unjust political situation, he wrote, rested on ‘a mutual compact betwixt the governors to support each other and the tendency of the weak towards division and exploitation, through the devices of ignorance of priestcraft.’[54] By this time Mealmaker was heavily involved in a new organisation, the United Scotsmen, a secret society modelled on the United Irishmen. Its resolutions rejected armed revolution:

We abhor and detest all riots and tumults. Our armour shall be reason and truth, which we shall not swerve from on any account. Our whole aim is to secure Annual Parliaments and Universal Suffrage. Till this is done we declare to the World, that we will never desist till we procure this our natural right.[55]

At the same time, Mealmaker devoted space to the subject of rebellion:

When one part of a nation tyrannises over another by wicked councils, or one set of men over another, laying grievous yokes upon their persons, property and consciences, in such cases resistance is a necessity and [a] moral virtue and may only be blamed if there is no possibility of success … No operation can be justly entitled rebellion when the will of the majority of the people is consulted and acted upon: In this case, the voice of the people is the voice of God.[56]

At Mealmaker’s trial, the Crown seized on this passage as evidence of his intent to stir up an armed revolt.[57] Yet one could just as easily say that Mealmaker was here objecting to the government’s characterisation of his political activity as sedition.

Monagrammist GT, Edinburgh Castle, view of the castle from below, (c. 1800), (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0), © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Although some Scottish radicals did promote a nationalist agenda, Mealmaker, like Thomas Paine, adhered to Enlightenment ideals of economic individualism, international friendship, and free-trade.[58] The constitution of the United Scotsmen declared that,

Mankind are naturally friends to each other; and it is only the corruptions and abuses in government that make them enemies … We profess ourselves friends to mankind, of whatever nation or religion. National and party distinctions have been created and supported by tyrannical man, on purpose to maintain their unjust usurpations of the People.[59]

The radical reformers inspired by Paine were disciples of Adam Smith.[60] In the 1793 Address of the Dundee Friends of Liberty, Mealmaker expressed opposition to war with France in terms of the economic impact it would have on individuals:

By it your commerce is sore cramped and almost ruined. Thousands and tens of thousands of your fellow-citizens, from being in a state of prosperity, are reduced to a state of poverty, misery, and wretchedness.[61]

‘Trade is like water,’ Mealmaker wrote in the Catechism, ‘it will find its own level.’[62] Mealmaker’s political agitation was not therefore based around a sense of working class-consciousness, but around a desire for recognition of his rights as a rational, self-possessed, individual citizen.

The ideal of international friendship was reflected in respect for the French Revolution, but Mealmaker’s writing demonstrates the significance of Britishness and gender for reformers in this period. In his 1793 sedition trial, Thomas Fyshe Palmer stated,

My politics … are those of common justice, benevolence, and humanity. … I thought that Parliamentary Reform, was intimately connected with human happiness — with the establishment, and security of the British empire.[63]

Writing to the London Corresponding Society after the arrest and acquittal of its first Secretary, Thomas Hardy, Mealmaker wrote that ‘Englishmen’ had sought ‘to define their natural, political, civil, and religious rights; whilst by an acquired habit of early acquiescence, Scotchmen have long been the passive dupes to FEUDAL TYRANNY.’[64] As the trial progressed, Mealmaker explained, ‘we stood penetrated with admiration at the manly fortitude and tried patriotism of our southern Brethren.’[65] The oath of the United Scotsmen, formed in late 1796 or early 1797, enjoined members to ‘to form a brotherhood of affection amongst Britons of every description’ in order ‘to obtain an equal, full, and adequate Representation of all the People in Great Britain.’[66] The preceding passages clearly articulate not only a sense of British solidarity but the common assertion, even for ‘radical’ reformers, that political rights were exclusively male.[67] As Mealmaker put it in the 1793 Address, ‘We have done our duty, and are determined to keep our posts; ever ready to assert our just rights and privileges as men.’[68]

Arrest and Trial

After avoiding prosecution for years, the authorities in Alba (Scotland), led by Lord Advocate Robert Dundas, finally arrested Mealmaker in November 1797. His trial at the High Court of Justiciary, Dùn Èideann (Edinburgh), lasted three days in January 1798, where he faced two main charges. One focused on writing, publishing and circulating seditious tracts, including the Catechism and resolutions of the United Scotsmen. Another charged him with violating 37 Geo III cap. 123, a 1797 law prohibiting the administering and taking of unlawful oaths.[69] As had happened during Palmer’s trial, the court ultimately dismissed the defence counsel’s argument that Mealmaker sought reform by peaceful means. The prosecutors for the Crown, led by Dundas, drew attention to practices of secrecy of the United Scotsmen and to elements of Mealmaker’s Catechism that seemed to ‘to represent the monarchical part of our constitution, as tyranny, and that nobility and titles of honour ought to be abolished. Will any court of justice say, that such doctrines are to be considered as merely speculative…?’[70] They also seized on the evidence of Walter Brown, a bleacher from Cupar, who stated that the United Scotsmen expected some 100,000 army and navy personnel to soon rise in a coordinated revolt.[71] As in Palmer’s trial, the Crown argued that the timing of Mealmaker’s writing and activities, coinciding with a series of mutinies in the Royal Navy, implicated him in both sedition and treason.[72] The evidence presented at the trial was inconsistent. Some witnesses did not believe that they had truly taken an oath, whilst others made only vague references to sympathy within the armed forces.[73] The resolutions of the United Scotsmen explicitly rejected armed insurrection, yet the prosecutors for the Crown encouraged the jury to dismiss these statements as a mere pretext concealing their true intention of overturning the government.[74]          

Thomas Maisey, View in Edinburgh, (c.1787–1840), (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0), © The Trustees of the British Museum.

The trial of Mealmaker highlights the clash between the paternalism of the British ruling classes and the importance that education and knowledge had for radical reformers. Alexander Smith, a weaver from Newton, Cùbar (Cupar), testified during the trial that the United Scotsmen had sought ‘a reform in parliament’ but that he knew little of it: ‘As for universal suffrage, he could never comprehend what it meant.’[75] For Mealmaker and his fellow reformers, a large part of their work was to educate others. The Secretaries of the London Corresponding Society praised Mealmaker for his efforts to revive the Friends of Liberty, ‘for the laudable purpose of enlightening the deluded, misguided, and uninformed part of our countrymen; … if the Friends of Reform in Scotland will but encourage that spirit of enquiry … it will convince them of their right to discuss all political subjects.’[76] The judges and representatives of the Crown, in contrast, assumed that it was impossible for ‘poor ignorant people in Cupar’ to ever enjoy a political right like voting.[77] During Palmer’s trial in 1793, Abercromby had stated in his judgement that,

It is a matter of melancholy reflection, to see a man of liberal education, a man of the station, the talents, and knowledge of the panel, associating with such societies as that of the Friends of Liberty … It is no wonder … that the minds of the lower class of people should be poisoned, when such men as Mr. Palmer descend to instil such principles into their minds.[78]

During Mealmaker’s trial Robert Dundas referred back to the earlier case, maintaining the assumption that men like Mealmaker were not truly capable of participating in political affairs:

Mealmaker took it upon him to say, he was the author of that pamphlet for which Palmer was tried. I do not now believe him, that he is the author of that Catechism so artfully drawn; but he has industriously circulated it among the poor industrious people, leading them away from their simple and innocent mode of life and business, under the specious pretext of obtaining a reform in parliament by petition.[79]

The jury, which was selected from loyalist merchants and bankers, ultimately convicted Mealmaker, who was sentenced to fourteen years transportation, which exceeded the maximum of seven set by the statute under which he was charged.[80]

Transportation and New South Wales

It was two years before Mealmaker boarded the Royal Admiral bound for New South Wales, a voyage that experienced some of the highest convict mortality.[81] Mealmaker and his fellow political transportees had bristled at the association with convicts.[82] In his Catechism, Mealmaker described the transportation as ‘being sent with the worst of felons, to the bleak and barren shores of New Holland.’[83] At the end of his trial he had declared that he did not fear transportation and that ‘he could easily submit, and go to that distant country, where others had gone before him.’[84] By the time he arrived, however, only Palmer and Maurice Margarot were left of the original ‘Scotch’ transportees.[85] Palmer, moreover, had changed his view of the colony. ‘The reports you have had of this country are mostly false,’ Palmer wrote to a Reverend J. Joyce in December 1794:

The soil is capital; the climate, delicious. I will take upon me to say that it will soon be the region of plenty, and wants only virtue and liberty to be another America. … I never saw a place where a man could so soon make a fortune, and that by the fairest means — agriculture.[86]

Philip Gidley King, Lieutenant King, Governor Philip Gidley King, Third Governor of New South Wales, St. John's Cemetery Project, Old Parramattans
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. Portrait of Philip Gidley King, Third Governor of New South Wales. “Lieut. King,” J. Wright del., W. Skelton sculp., Publd 1789 by J. Stockdale, Piccadilly, in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong Views with Portraits and Manuscript Extracts, (1770–1886), DL PXX 71 / FL13383215, Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales.

Although successive governors remained suspicious of Margarot, Palmer and William Skirving kept a low profile, preferring to work on their land and steer clear of Irish convict plots and rebellions in this period.[87] It is possible that Mealmaker met with Margarot in this period, and in March 1802 he complained to Governor King after being arrested ‘on a charge of being concerned in some plot or other against the State; what the plot is or who the makers of it he know not.’[88] Otherwise he kept his head down.

Since the establishment of the colony, successive governors had been willing to draw on skilled convicts to help develop local industries or fill gaps in the medical service. Governor King had taken a particular interest in developing a local weaving industry to provide clothing for convicts, sailcloth, and other goods. After a master-weaver drowned during the voyage to New South Wales, King employed a group of Irish convicts with some experience to set up hand-looms in an ‘Extensive room over the New Jail [sic] at Parramatta.’[89] They proved disappointing and King continued his search for someone who could carry on the work more efficiently. By 1803 the colony had 20 acres of flax under cultivation and was experimenting with cultivating native flax from the Hawkesbury for linen manufacturing.[90] In August, King concluded an agreement with Mealmaker to oversee an expansion in the number of looms in return for a conditional pardon and a salary beginning at 50 pounds and increasing as he added more looms.[91] Within a year the number of looms had expanded to nine, producing fine linen, duck, woollen cloth, sacking and sailcloth.[92] At its peak under Mealmaker’s supervision, the factory had at least twelve looms, now making rope, twine, drugget, canvas, and blankets, which the government exchanged for meat and grain produced by farmers.[93] In May 1803, 50 female and 18 male convicts were employed in all stages of woollen and linen manufacturing.[94] By August 1806, three years after Mealmaker’s appointment, these numbers had increased to 58 and 42 respectively, whilst in October 1807 the number of female convicts employed had increased to 87.[95]

An early incarnation of Parramatta Gaol is depicted to the right, at the end of the “Old Gaol Bridge” across the Parramatta River, a bridge that was later partially incorporated into the Lennox Bridge. At the time, the first Parramatta Female Factory, known as “The Factory Above the Gaol,” was also part of the same complex. “A View of Part of Parramatta Port Jackson,” c.1809, attributed to George William Evans. Series 01: Australian paintings by J.W. Lewin, G. P. Harris, G. W. Evans and others, 1796–1809 [32 watercolours], Vol. 3, PXD 388 / FL1152086, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

The appointment of Governor William Bligh in August 1806 was the beginning of a series of misfortunes for Mealmaker. Bligh did not care about local textile manufacturing and stopped reporting on it in his despatches. On the morning of 21 December 1807, a fire, which had started in the ‘rubbish of the Flax,’ spread to the factory floor of the Parramatta Gaol and destroyed it. Bligh, reporting to the Colonial Secretary after the rebellion against him, was convinced it was an act of arson but could not find any evidence.[96] It was around this time, however, that we can see glimpses of Mealmaker’s old commitment to reform. In January 1808 he added his name to a letter addressed to Governor Bligh and signed by some 833 people, described as ‘Free and Principal Proprietors of Land Property, and Inhabitants of the rising and extensive Colony of New South Wales.’[97] The letter was extremely flattering in its praise of Bligh, but it was nevertheless a petition for change in colonial society. If it had once made sense for a penal colony to function along military lines, the ‘extensive rising Greatness and Enterprising Spirit of the Colonists over which Your Excellency now happily Governs’ seemed to demand some liberal reform.[98] The signatories thus respectfully requested that Bligh inquire whether the government would permit free trade with Britain and trial by jury.[99] This was a much less ambitious agenda than the one Mealmaker had proclaimed in Alba (Scotland), yet it suggests that he had not given up on his cause of fraternal liberty.

Although Mealmaker put his name to the letter, it is hard to tell how he was feeling. His death in March 1808 drew little official attention. Over two years later, the Colonial Office forwarded a letter from a Reverend Thomson of Dùn Dèagh (Dundee). Mealmaker’s wife had heard that he had drowned whilst travelling in New South Wales and Governor Macquarie promised to see if he could confirm this. In October 1811, Isaac Nichols reported that,

as far as comes within my knowledge … the above named George Mealmaker Died in the factory at Parramatta in March 1808. Supposed to have been suffocated by drinking Spirits; at the time of his Death he possessed no property not even as much as defrayed his Funeral expenses.[100]

Mealmaker had evidently suffered substantial losses, but whether his destitution and death were the result of profligacy and persistent abuse of alcohol is unclear. His loss was certainly felt by some members of colonial society. Botanist George Caley paid tribute to him in a letter to Joseph Banks, which is worth quoting at length:

 …it is doing no more than justice to the memory of Mealmaker, who superintended it, in saying that when he died the factory died with him. The perfection to which he had brought spinning, weaving, &c was highly to his credit. He employed a great number of people that could not be employed otherwise, particularly women. But now there being no such employment to dread, every idle strumpet will want to get upon the stores. I do not say but what women who have several children and unable to provide for them should be assisted. But it was bad policy putting any of them off the stores at first, for it was encouraging laziness among the greater part of them, and opening the way to misery and starvation. It is well worthy the notice of Government to pay attention to this subject, as it is so beneficial to the interest of the Colony. The death of Mealmaker may be truly deemed a public loss.[101]

The Parramatta Female Factory would of course be rebuilt on a larger scale, but Caley’s letter shows what this work meant to the colony. What Mealmaker himself felt about the factory is unclear, but the beliefs and values invoked here, including the evils of idleness and the moral and social benefits of putting prisoners to work, did not necessarily conflict with his own. Mealmaker certainly wanted to challenge inequality and the dominance of the propertied elite, and sought to secure universal male suffrage without qualifications. Yet his letters and political writings also dwell on theology, reason, industry, the need for education amongst working men, and the way political rights seemed to be derived from manhood.

The memory of Mealmaker was more significant in Alba (Scotland) than in New South Wales. In the wake of The Representation of the People Act 1832 also known as The 1832 Reform Act, many now recognised Mealmaker’s transportation as the actions of a repressive government.[102] The Dundee Radical Reform Association, meeting in 1837 to discuss a proposed monument to the ‘Scotch Martyrs,’ resolved ‘That the memory of George Mealmaker, and all the other sufferers in the cause of freedom, ought to be held in grateful remembrance by all those who love liberty.’[103] In 1849, the Dundee Courier described Mealmaker’s Address as a ‘sensible and temperate’ document:

It must not be supposed that these men were impracticable enthusiasts or illiterate fire-brands. They did not preach a crusade against property, or incite the masses to deeds of violence—neither did they sow the seeds of class-war, or indulge in ignorant abuse of the established social principles of society. No, they temperately advocated an extension of the franchise and remodelling of the House of Commons, and all this they did coolly and energetically, yet as pioneers of progress.[104]

In a serialised novel published in 1875, an older male character, Saunders Murdoch, remembers hearing ‘Geordie’ Mealmaker’s radical talk in a weaver’s shop and confesses to having lost some of his zeal since then.[105] George, a younger male character, describes Mealmaker as an ‘honour to the town,’ before declaring that parliamentary reform,

is the only thing that will bring prosperity to trade. It will give increased confidence to capitalists and give a fresh impetus to commerce. Look at the immense sums of public money literally squandered in war and lavished on idle sinecurists and pensioners.’[106]

The problems of war and corruption and the importance of free trade and capitalist enterprise articulated here are the same as those that Mealmaker wrote about in the 1790s. If Mealmaker was remembered for his ‘radical’ politics, it was partly to buttress criticism of the more radical working-class politics emerging at this time.

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. The grave of George Mealmaker, in Section 1, Row K, No. 2, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta, Burramattagal Country. The St. John’s burial register entry for Mealmaker notes in the margin “died of extreme intoxication.” Photo: Michaela Ann Cameron (2019).

Mealmaker’s story is a reminder of the entanglement of Australia’s colonial history in wider forces. The foundation of New South Wales coincided with an eruption of political agitation and revolution in Europe. For an anxious British government, New South Wales fortuitously became a place to exile trouble-makers and further terrorise domestic political reformers. Although some saw the colony an opportunity, it is hard to gauge the significance of such political transportees in Australian history. Irish convict rebels have arguably had a much greater impact on historical memory and imagination, whilst the English and Scottish radicals continued to insist that they sought reform, not revolution. Transportation took its toll on Mealmaker and his colleagues. Joseph Gerrald and William Skirving died soon after arriving in New South Wales, whilst Thomas Muir died in France after escaping the colony and suffering terrible injuries during an engagement with the Royal Navy.[107] Palmer died on Guam whilst pursuing commercial opportunities following the end of his sentence.[108] Mealmaker had endured separation from his wife May, his children, and his friends.[109] In New South Wales he applied himself to an industry in which he was skilled and began a new family.[110] Yet it all fell apart as a result of accidents, official neglect, and fractious colonial politics. Mealmaker’s story is thus also a reminder of the way the severity of transportation sometimes exceeded what was intended by the sentence of transportation.

CITE THIS

Alexander Cameron-Smith, “‘He was a clever chiel Geordie, tae be only a weaver’: George Mealmaker,” St. John’s Online, (2021), https://stjohnsonline.org/bio/george-mealmaker, accessed [insert current date].

Acknowledgements

Biographical selection, assignment, research assistance, editing & multimedia: Michaela Ann Cameron.

References

  • Alan Atkinson, The Europeans in Australia, Vol. I, (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2016).
  • F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, (Sydney: Government Printer, 1893, 1895).
  • John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983).
  • British Newspaper Archive (https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/)
  • Henry Cockburn, An Examination of the Trials of Sedition which have Hitherto Occurred in Scotland, (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1888).
  • Edinburgh Magazine: Or Literary Miscellany, Vol. 11, “Scotland. High Court of Justiciary. Trial of George Mealmaker, Weaver in Dundee,” (J. Sibbald, Parliament-Square, 1798), pp. 76–80.
  • Eric Hobsbawn, The Age of Revolution: 1789–1848, (New York: Vintage Books, 1996).
  • Thomas Jones Howell, William Cobbett, David Jardine, A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783, Volume 23(T. C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817).
  • London Corresponding Society, Correspondence of the London Corresponding Society Revised and Corrected, (London: London Corresponding Society, 1795).
  • E. W. McFarland, Ireland and Scotland in the Age of Revolution: Planting the Green Bough, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994).
  • Henry W. Meikle, Scotland and the French Revolution, (Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons, 1912).
  • A. H. Millar, “The Martyrs of Reform in Scotland,” The Aberdeen People’s Journal, 24 October 1885, p. 3.
  • Parish Baptism Register, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.
  • Parish Burial Register, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.
  • Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 284–98.
  • G. W. Rusden, Curiosities of Colonization, (London: W. Clowes and Sons, 1874).
  • E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class, (London: Penguin Books, 1978).
  • Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia, Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1915, 1916).

NOTES

[1] The quotation in the article title is from “The Fugitive; or The Lost Heir of Dunnichten,” The Dundee Courier, 23 July 1875, p. 7. Regarding the forgotten martyr moniker, see Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 284–98.

[2] J. Sands, “A Dundee ‘Political Martyr’,” Dundee Advertiser, 24 February 1880, p. 9.

[3] These were Thomas Muir, Reverend Thomas Fyshe Palmer, William Skirving, Joseph Gerrald and Maurice Margarot, see Appendix F, in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. II, (Mona Vale: Landsdown Slattery and Company, 1978);Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 284–98.

[4] See Henry W. Meikle, Scotland and the French Revolution, (Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons, 1912), pp. 185–87; John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), pp. 564–74; E. W. McFarland, Ireland and Scotland in the Age of Revolution: Planting the Green Bough, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994), p. 153.

[5] “Agreement with Master Weaver,” 31 August 1803, in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia (HRA), Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. IV, 1803–June 1804, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1915), pp. 396–8. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-475651544

[6] “Settler’s Address to Governor Bligh,” 1 January 1808, in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia (HRA), Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. VI, August 1806–December 1808, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1916), pp. 373–4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-467098471

[7] Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 294–5; “Burial of GEORGE MEALMAKER, 1 April 1808, aged 40, of the parish of St. John, died of extreme intoxication, registered 3 April 1808 by me, Wm PASCOE CROOK,” Parish Burial Register, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.

[8] Henry W. Meikle, Scotland and the French Revolution, (Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons, 1912), p. 86; John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), pp. 56–7.

[9] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), pp. 61–5.

[10] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), pp. 31–54.

[11] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), pp. 45–6.

[12] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), pp. 85–94.

[13] Henry W. Meikle, Scotland and the French Revolution, (Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons, 1912), pp. 139–41.

[14] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), p. 8.

[15] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), p. 8; See Eric Hobsbawn, The Age of Revolution: 1789–1848, (New York: Vintage Books, 1996), p. 20.

[16] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), pp. 8–11; See also E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class, (London: Penguin Books, 1978), pp. 297–308;Eric Hobsbawn, The Age of Revolution: 1789–1848, (New York: Vintage Books, 1996), pp. 19–20.

[17] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), p. 14.

[18] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), pp. 14–5.

[19] Eric Hobsbawn, The Age of Revolution: 1789–1848, (New York: Vintage Books, 1996), pp. 20–22.

[20] Quoted in Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 284.

[21] A. H. Millar, “The Martyrs of Reform in Scotland,” The Aberdeen People’s Journal, 24 October 1885, p. 3.

[22] John Kay, A Series of Original Portraits and Caricature Etchings, Vol. I, (London, 1838), p. 426.

[23] John Kay, Portrait of George Mealmaker, (London, 1838), PIC Drawer 7734 #S9877 / nla.obj-136103605, National Library of Australia. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-136103605

[24] Quoted in Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 286.

[25] “Copy of a Letter from Dundee,” Correspondence of the London Corresponding Society Revised and Corrected, (London: London Corresponding Society, 1795), p. 60.

[26] “Answer to the Same,” Correspondence of the London Corresponding Society Revised and Corrected, (London: London Corresponding Society, 1795), p. 61.

[27] “Answer to the Same,” Correspondence of the London Corresponding Society Revised and Corrected, (London: London Corresponding Society, 1795), p. 61.

[28] Thomas Jones Howell, William Cobbett, David Jardine, A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783, Volume 23, (T. C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817), p. 1152.

[29] Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 284.

[30] E. W. McFarland, Ireland and Scotland in the Age of Revolution: Planting the Green Bough, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994), pp. 160–61.

[31] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), pp. 45–6.

[32] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), pp. 47–8.

[33] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), pp. 85–8.

[34] Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 284.

[35] Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 285.

[36] Henry Cockburn, An Examination of the Trials of Sedition which have Hitherto Occurred in Scotland, Vol. I, (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1888), p. 186.

[37] Henry Cockburn, An Examination of the Trials of Sedition which have Hitherto Occurred in Scotland, Vol. I, (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1888), p. 188.

[38] Henry Cockburn, An Examination of the Trials of Sedition which have Hitherto Occurred in Scotland, Vol. I, (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1888), pp. 187–8.

[39] The Caledonian Mercury, 5 October 1793, p. 4.

[40] The Caledonian Mercury, 5 October 1793, p. 4.

[41] The Caledonian Mercury, 5 October 1793, p. 4.

[42] The Caledonian Mercury, 5 October 1793, p. 4.

[43] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), p. 452.

[44] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), pp. 452–3

[45] Henry Cockburn, An Examination of the Trials of Sedition which have Hitherto Occurred in Scotland, Vol. I, (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1888), pp. 207–8.

[46] Henry W. Meikle, Scotland and the French Revolution, (Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons, 1912), pp. 140–1.

[47] Henry W. Meikle, Scotland and the French Revolution, (Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons, 1912), pp. 141–3; Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 286.

[48] “Copy of a Letter from Dundee”, Correspondence of the London Corresponding Society Revised and Corrected, (London: London Corresponding Society, 1795), p. 59.

[49] Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 286–7.

[50] Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 287.

[51] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), pp. 112–3.

[52] Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 289.

[53] E. W. McFarland, Ireland and Scotland in the Age of Revolution: Planting the Green Bough, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994), p. 156.

[54] E. W. McFarland, Ireland and Scotland in the Age of Revolution: Planting the Green Bough, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994), p. 154.

[55] Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 288.

[56] E. W. McFarland, Ireland and Scotland in the Age of Revolution: Planting the Green Bough, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994), p. 155.

[57] Thomas Jones Howell, William Cobbett, David Jardine, A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783, Volume 23, (T. C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817), p. 1161.

[58] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), p. 581; E. W. McFarland, Ireland and Scotland in the Age of Revolution: Planting the Green Bough, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994), p. 156.

[59] E. W. McFarland, Ireland and Scotland in the Age of Revolution: Planting the Green Bough, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994), pp. 154–5.

[60] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), pp. 232–3.

[61] Henry Cockburn, An Examination of the Trials of Sedition which have Hitherto Occurred in Scotland, Vol. I, (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1888), p. 188.

[62] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), p. 232.

[63] The Caledonian Mercury, 5 October 1793, p. 4.

[64] “Copy of a Letter from Dundee,” Correspondence of the London Corresponding Society Revised and Corrected, (London: London Corresponding Society, 1795), p. 60.

[65] “Copy of a Letter from Dundee,” Correspondence of the London Corresponding Society Revised and Corrected, (London: London Corresponding Society, 1795), p. 60.

[66] John D. Brims, [PhD Diss.], The Scottish Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 1983), p. 581.

[67] Alan Atkinson, The Europeans in Australia, Vol. I, (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2016), p. 336.

[68] Henry Cockburn, An Examination of the Trials of Sedition which have Hitherto Occurred in Scotland, Vol. I, (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1888), p. 188.

[69] Thomas Jones Howell, William Cobbett, David Jardine, A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783, Volume 23, (T. C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817), pp. 1135–9; “Scotland. High Court of Justiciary. Trial of George Mealmaker, Weaver in Dundee,” Edinburgh Magazine: Or Literary Miscellany, Vol. 11, (J. Sibbald, Parliament-Square, 1798), pp. 76–80.

[70] Thomas Jones Howell, William Cobbett, David Jardine, A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783, Volume 23, (T. C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817), p. 1143.

[71] Thomas Jones Howell, William Cobbett, David Jardine, A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783, Volume 23, (T. C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817), pp. 1153–9.

[72] Thomas Jones Howell, William Cobbett, David Jardine, A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783, Volume 23, (T. C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817), pp. 1161–2.

[73] Thomas Jones Howell, William Cobbett, David Jardine, A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783, Volume 23, (T. C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817), pp. 1145–52.

[74] Thomas Jones Howell, William Cobbett, David Jardine, A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783, Volume 23, (T. C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817), p. 1159.

[75] Thomas Jones Howell, William Cobbett, David Jardine, A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783, Volume 23, (T. C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817), p. 1152.

[76] “Answer to the Same,” Correspondence of the London Corresponding Society Revised and Corrected, (London: London Corresponding Society, 1795), p. 61.

[77] Thomas Jones Howell, William Cobbett, David Jardine, A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783, Volume 23, (T. C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817), p. 1161

[78] The Caledonian Mercury, 5 October 1793, p. 4.

[79] Thomas Jones Howell, William Cobbett, David Jardine, A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783, Volume 23, (T. C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817), p. 1159.

[80] Henry Cockburn, An Examination of the Trials of Sedition which have Hitherto Occurred in Scotland, Vol. II, (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1888), pp. 151–5.

[81] Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 291.

[82] C. F. Palmer to Home Department, 9 January 1794, in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. II, Grose and Paterson, 1793–1795, (Sydney: Government Printer, 1893), pp. 835–6. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-359069774; Maurice Margarot to Henry Dundas, 27 March 1794, F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. II, Grose and Paterson, 1793–1795, (Sydney: Government Printer, 1893), pp. 852–3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-359069774

[83] Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 290.

[84] Thomas Jones Howell, William Cobbett, David Jardine, A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors from the Earliest Period to the Year 1783, Volume 23, (T. C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817), p. 1164.

[85] Joseph Gerrald died soon after arriving in New South Wales and William Skirving died after a bout of dysentery in 1796. Thomas Muir escaped aboard an American vessel and eventually reached France after securing passage on Spanish vessels, see Governor John Hunter to Duke of Portland, 30 April 1796, in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. III. Hunter, 1796–1799, (Sydney: Government Printer, 1895), pp. 46–7 http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-359069148; John Earnshaw, “Thomas Muir (1765–1799),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1967. https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/muir-thomas-2488.

[86] Thomas Fyshe Palmer to Reverend J. Joyce, 15 December 1794, in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. II, Grose and Paterson, 1793–1795, (Sydney: Government Printer, 1893), p. 870. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-359069774

[87] Governor John Hunter to Duke of Portland, 30 April 1796, in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. III. Hunter, 1796–1799, (Sydney: Government Printer, 1895), pp. 46–7 http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-359069148.

[88] G. W. Rusden, Curiosities of Colonization, (London: W. Clowes and Sons, 1874), http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-83603185 quoted in Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 292.

[89] Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 292–3.

[90] Governor Phillip Gidley King to Lord Hobart, 7 August 1803, in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia (HRA), Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. IV, 1803–June 1804, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1915), p. 307. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-475651544

[91] Agreement with Master-weaver, 31 August 1803, in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia (HRA), Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. IV, 1803–June 1804, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1915), pp. 396–8. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-475651544

[92] Governor King to Lord Hobart, 14 August 1804, in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia (HRA), Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. V, July 1804–August 1806, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1915), p. 12. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-483689765

[93] Statement of Receipts and Disbursements on Account of the Gaol and Orphan Fund, August 1800–31 December 1804, in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia (HRA), Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. V, July 1804–August 1806, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1915), p. 280. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-483689765

[94] Return of Employment, 9 May 1803, in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia (HRA), Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. IV, 1803–June 1804, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1915), pp. 91–3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-475651544

[95] Returns of Employment, 12 August 1806, in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia (HRA), Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. V, July 1804–August 1806, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1915), pp. 780–2 http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-483689765; Returns of Employment, 31 October 1807, in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia, Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. VI, August 1806–December 1808, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1916), pp. 179–81. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-467098471

[96] Governor William Bligh to Viscount Castlereagh, 30 April 1808, in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia, Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. VI, August 1806–December 1808, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1916), p. 423. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-467098471

[97] Settler’s Address to Governor Blight, 1 January 1808, in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia, Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. VI, August 1806–December 1808, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1916), pp. 373–4 http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-467098471; See also Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 294.

[98] Settler’s Address to Governor Blight, 1 January 1808, in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia, Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. VI, August 1806–December 1808, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1916), p. 374. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-467098471

[99] Settler’s Address to Governor Blight, 1 January 1808, in Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia, Series I. Governors’ Despatches to and from England, Vol. VI, August 1806–December 1808, (Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1916), p. 374. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-467098471

[100] Michael Roe, “George Mealmaker, the Forgotten Martyr,” Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 43, No. 6, (1957): 295.

[101] George Caley to Sir Joseph Banks, 28 October 1808, Sir Joseph Banks Papers, SAFE/Banks Papers/Series 18.074, p. 6 / FL3136875, transcription also available online https://transcripts.sl.nsw.gov.au/page/letter-received-banks-george-caley-28-october-1808-series-18074-no-0001 accessed 2 May 2020.

[102] The Statutes of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, (London: Printed by His Majesty’s Printers, 1832), pp. 154–192 https://books.google.com.au/books?id=Uq0uAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA154#v=onepage&q&f=false

[103] “The Political Martyrs of Scotland,” The Leeds Times, 4 March 1837, p. 3.

[104] “Sketches About Town,” The Dundee Courier, 31 October 1849, p. 2.

[105] “The Fugitive; or The Lost Heir of Dunnichten,” The Dundee Courier, 23 July 1875, p. 7.

[106] “The Fugitive; or The Lost Heir of Dunnichten,” The Dundee Courier, 23 July 1875, p. 7.

[107] Governor John Hunter to Duke of Portland, 30 April 1796, in F. M. Bladen (ed.), Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. III. Hunter, 1796–1799, (Sydney: Government Printer, 1895), pp. 46–7 http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-359069148; John Earnshaw, “Thomas Muir (1765–1799),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1967. https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/muir-thomas-2488.

[108] John Earnshaw, “Thomas Fyshe Palmer (1747-1802)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1967. https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/palmer-thomas-fyshe-2535.

[109] Mealmaker’s former wife, May Thorn, died in 1843, having lived to see her great-grandchildren born, The Star of Freedom, 2 December 1843, p. 5.

[110] George Mealmaker had a child with Mary Thomas per Glatton (1803) in 1805 named Rebecca Mealmaker. Mary had only just recently given birth to her daughter by Dougall Liverston, named “Eliza Liverston,” when she fell pregnant with Rebecca. To complicate things, it seems Rebecca’s details were erroneously recorded by Samuel Marsden in the St. John’s Parish register thus: “Baptism of AFFLECK [sic] MEALMAKER, son of GEORGE MEALMAKER and MARY THOMAS, was born May 18th 1805 and Christened June 24th 1805, Registered June 24th 1805 by me SAMUEL MARSDEN.” The entry immediately after “AFFLECK” is for Mealmaker’s stepdaughter and REBECCA’s half-sister: “Baptism of ELIZA LIVERSTON, Daughter of DOUGALL LIVERSTON and MARY THOMAS, was born July 23 1804 and Christened June 24th 1805, Registered June 24th 1805 by me SAMUEL MARSDEN,” Parish Baptism Register, Textual Records, St. John’s Anglican Church, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia. There are no further records of an “Affleck Mealmaker,” or indeed of any son of Mealmaker in the colony, but there are records of Rebecca Mealmaker, and her birth date was the same as that recorded as “Affleck.” Mealmaker’s stepdaughter Eliza went by the name of Eliza Mealmaker, as both Eliza and Rebecca were recorded with that surname when they disembarked as teenagers from the ship Little Mary (1820) on 22 May 1820 at Takina (Port Dalrymple) “Van Diemen’s Land,” that is, Lutruwita (Tasmania). See New South Wales Government, Ships Musters, Series: NRS 1289; Items: 4/4771; Reel: 561; Page: 239, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). Rebecca Mealmaker went on to marry a wheelwright named Thomas May, with whom she had ten children before her death on Christmas Day 1855, after which Thomas May remarried and had another two children. Eliza also married, one William Jones, and died in Lutruwita (Tasmania) on 24 January 1844. Mealmaker’s daughter, Marjory Mealmaker, by his wife in Scotland, evidently married and had children, too, as her mother’s obituary noted that she had lived to see her “great-grandchildren born.” The Star of Freedom, 2 December 1843, p. 5.

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