Governor Macquarie accompanied by his wife Elizabeth and young son Lachlan together with colonial officials and a military escort departed Sydney for Newcastle on the Elizabeth Henrietta for a Tour of Inspection of the settlement on 27th July 1818.
They arrived in Newcastle the following day and an inspection of the settlement commenced that same day. The Governor detailed his activities each day in his diary..
The diary entry on Monday 3rd August reveals some worrying events that had taken place back in Sydney in his absence......
Early this morning the Govt. Boat called the Antelope arrived here from Port Stephens, whither she had been sent on Wednesday last (29th) from Sydney in search of 3 Boats with Runaway Convicts that had made their escape from Sydney on the preceding Day in those three Private Boats -- amounting to the number of 21 or 24 men. -- It being supposed those Pirates intended to cut of[f] some small colonial Vessels lately gone to Port Stephens for Cedar, the Antelope was directed to proceed thither to apprize them of their eventual Danger, which she accordingly did -- but has seen nothing of the Pirates.-- The Antelope is commanded by Mr. Murray the Pilot, and has a Party of Soldiers belonging to the 48th Regt. on board commanded by Serjt. Burrowes.---Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie Archive
The Sydney Gazette reported on the 1st August......
At the beginning of the week a number of prisoners from the working gangs were discovered to have absented themselves, and several boats, the property of private persons were shortly after missing also; from which latter discovery a design was conjectured to have been formed by the absentees to surprise and cut off some vessel or craft.
The Antelope, a boat of 20 tons, belonging to the Government dock-yard was in consequence immediately got ready to pursue them with a strong party of the 48th Regiment and several persons who volunteered their assistance; among whom were Mr. Thomas and Mr. James Reibey, sons of Mrs. Reibey, owner of the brig Governor Macquarie, supposed to be lying at Port Stevens, and liable to be attacked by the fugitive banditti.
Owing to information since received from a fishing boat, Mr. John Redmond, owner of a vessel supposed to be in Broken Bay, and in imminent danger of being attacked by one of the boats, set out yesterday with an armed party by water to prevent the mischief.
A muster was this day of the prisoners victualled from His Majesty's Stores, and the names of those of that description missing are published accordingly in the public advertisement from the office of the Principal Superintendent ; and from the exertions promptly resorted to, there can be no doubt the whole of the people who have ventured themselves upon these horrible designs, will be soon brought back, unless they perish from famine or by the hands of the barbarous natives of the coast.
Descriptions of Absconders Issued
From the Principal Superintendent's Office description of absconders was issued on 1st August, however not all of them had made away on the boats......
Whereas several boats being missing from the Harbour and the undermentioned convicts having absconded, supposed with an intention of taking some vessel in order to make their escape from this colony; all Constables and others are hereby required to apprehend and lodge in any of the gaols in this colony, all or any of the prisoners herewith described:
From the Store - W. Brasse, shoemaker, per Mariner aged 22. Native place, Glasgow; 5ft 7 1/2 in high; dark ruddy complexion, brown hair, grey eyes.
J. Tullock, shoe maker, per Atlas aged 28; native place Murrayshire, 5ft high; thin pale complexion, hazel eyes, brown hair, humpbacked.
From the Roads: A. Sutherland, seaman, per Atlas, aged 20; native place Glasgow; 5ft high, dark pale complexion, hazel eyes, black hair.
From the Brickmakers - J. Cochrane sailor, per Lord Eldon aged 22; native place Dublin; 5ft 5 3/4 in high, fair ruddy complexion, brown hair, hazel eyes. Philip Froud, carpenter per Larkins, aged 36; native placed Reading; 5ft 4 1/2 in high, dark brown complexion, brown hair, hazel eyes. J. Willis carpenter per Batavia aged 25; native place London ; 5ft 6in high, fair ruddy complexion, brown hair, hazel eyes
Boats Crew - J. Pocock, groom and coachman, per Larkins aged 26; native place Kent; 5ft 8 1/2in high, fair pale complexion, brown hair, hazel eyes.
Masons - W. Thompson, servant in ship per Lord Eldon aged 20; native place cork; 5ft 5 3/4in, high; fair complexion, dark brown hair, hazel eys. Thomas Jones, labourer per Fame aged 28; native place Dublin; 5ft 4 3/4in; sallow complexion, brown hair, grey eyes.
Dock Yard - Thomas Scott, lighterman per Larkins age 30; native place London; 5ft 8 1/2in high; ruddy pock marked complexion, black hair to grey, hazel eyes. J. Edgar, servant per Mariner aged 17; native place Glasgow; 5ft 3 1/3in high; dark freckled complexion, brown hair, hazel eys.
Town Gang - S. Pate Shoe maker, per Larkins aged 37; native place Ivy Bride; 5ft 7 1/2in high; fair ruddy complexion brown hair, hazel eyes.
Benelong's Point R. Hanna, cotton weaver per Atlas, age 18; native place Armagh; 5ft 6in high; dark sallow complexion black hair, hazel eyes.
Government Servant - William Thompson alias Corr a tailor per Sir William Bensley aged 20; native of Perthshire; 5ft 6 1/2in; brown hair, dark complexion, hazel eyes, wounded in left hand.
From Parramatta - J. Giddens, dock yard man per Larkins aged 38; native place London; 5ft 6 in high; fair, pale complexion, silvery to brown hair, brown eyes. 
In correspondence dated 2nd September Captain Wallis at Newcastle was informed that twenty-six male prisoners and one female prisoner were to arrive at the settlement on the Lady Nelson. ...The men are generally of the most depraved and desperate characters and who have made repeated attempts to escape from the colony. Those in particular who piratically carried off the two boats whilst His Excellency the Governor was at Newcastle are as follows....Giddings, Edgar, Scott, Nevans, Brash, Hanna, Sutherland, Pocock, Jones, Tullock and Thompson, being eleven in number.
Lime Kilns at Newcastle
The list gives the following information about the pirates who were all convicted on 17th August 1818. They were all sentenced to work at the Lime kilns at Newcastle
John Giddings per Larkins. Labourer. Sentenced to three years in double irons to hard labour at the lime kilns
Samuel alias James Edgar per Mariner, carpenter. Sentenced to three years in double irons to hard labour at the lime kilns
Thomas Scott per Larkins. Caulker. Sentenced to three years in double irons to hard labour at the lime kilns
Robert Nevans per Neptune. Glazier. Sentenced to two years in double irons to hard labour at the lime kilns
William Brash per Mariner. Shoemaker. Sentenced to two years in double irons to hard labour at the lime kilns
Robert Hanna per Atlas. Weaver. Sentenced to two years in double irons to hard labour at the lime kilns
Alexander Sutherland per Atlas. Labourer Sentenced to two years in double irons to hard labour at the lime kilns
James Pocock per Larkins. Coachman. Sentenced to 18 months in double irons to hard labour in the lime kilns
Thomas Jones per Fame. Labourer. Sentenced to 18 months in double irons hard labour at the lime kilns
James Tullock per Atlas. Shoemaker. Sentenced to 18 months in double irons to hard labour at the lime kilns
William Thompson per Sir William Bensley. Tailor. Sentenced to 18 months in double irons to hard labour at the lime kilns.