Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Provost Marshall William Gore


William Gore arrived in the colony in 1806. The Fortune, Alexander and store ship Lady Madeline Sinclair departed England on 28th January 1806 in convoy of the Porpoise under the command of Lieutenant Joseph Short. Captain William Bligh and Provost-Marshal William Gore were on board the Madeline Sinclair.

The Bligh Affair

In 1808 in the aftermath of the Bligh affair, William Gore was charged with perjury by a rebel court. He considered the court illegal and refused to plead as the following correspondence shows:

Provost-Marshal Gore to Governor Bligh (Bligh Papers) 31st May. {Extract}

Cells, Sydney Jail, N.S.W.,

31st May 1808


I presume you have already been informed of the additional unprecedented outrage and atrocious violation of the laws of England, that a body of persons styling themselves a Court of Criminal Jurisdiction has perpetrated against the person of a British subject and of a British officer who has the honor of holding a commission under His Majesty's sign manual, by dragging me yesterday from the dungeon in which they have cruelly and illegally immured me since the twenty first of last March, before them, without the least warning, without a minute's notice, when the infamous Kemp, who acted as Judge Advocate on the occasion, read an indictment charging me with having committed wilful and corrupt perjury, and asked me,

'Are you guilty or not guilty'?

'I have a few observations to make; I believe I have them in my hat.'

'We do not wish you to say anything; we do not wish you to speak; are you guilty or not guilty?'

'I deny your jurisdiction'

'We are not to be harangued by you, Mr. Gore; we are not come here for you to harangue us'

'I will not plead; I deny your jurisdiction'

'It is not for you to deny our jurisdiction; I will pass sentence on you if you will not plead:

'You are an unlawful assembly, and illegally constituted; the most disgraceful, the most rigorous sentence you can pronounce on me I shall receive as the greatest honor you can confer on me; I shall not acknowledge your authority; I deny your jurisdiction:

Captain Abbot:

'Mr. Gore, you can challenge any member '

'No, possessing my fealty and my allegiance to my King, I deny your jurisdiction; I will not plead - for you are an unlawful assembly'

Captain Kemp:

'Clear the Court; clear the Court'

The Court having been opened again, after a lapse of about twenty minutes, Kemp said:

'We have recorded that you have refused to plead':

'I have; I do'

'And we have sentenced you to be transported for seven years'

'You have conferred on me the greatest honor you are capable of conferring - the only honor I could receive from such men. Loyalty and treason could not unite; treason and loyalty could not associate, could not agree:


'Take him away; take him off; take him away; take him away.' -

Favour and respect from such men as my debased persecutors are would, believe me, be considered by me as my greatest dishonor. As it is whispered to me that I may be taken by surprize tomorrow morning and sent to the Coal River, from which it would appear that these fellows are desirous of preventing me from going to England, for the reasons I have heretofore mentioned, pardon my entreating you to state to His Majesty's Ministers the unhappy condition of my poor family - the forlorn, the unmerited, and the miserable situation to which my dear and amiable wife, and my tender, my darling infants, are reduced by the veriest miscreants in existence, surely cannot fail to interest His Majesty's Ministers in their behalf, particularly as I am apprehensive, with great reason, that an attempt may be made on my life........

Newcastle Penal Settlement

After being incarcerated in Sydney for two months, Gore was sent to Newcastle penal settlement perhaps in the Coal Mines or other public works. He may have remained at Newcastle for the next two years.

Return to England

In 1810 he was ordered to embark on the Hindostan for England where he was a Crown witness at the trial of Lieutenant-Colonel George Johnston. He returned to Sydney in October 1812.

Newcastle Gaol

Many years later he was sent to Newcastle gaol having been found guilty of wilfully shooting at a soldier of the 48th regiment. Upon representations from Earl Bathurst and Palmerston, to whom Gore was personally known, Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane pardoned him in June 1825. [2]


[1].Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. VI, King and Bligh 1806, 1807, 1808. Edited by F. M. Bladen, Lansdowne Slattery and Company, Mona Vale, N.S.W.,1979. 648 - 649.

[2]. Australian Dictionary of Biography