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Australiana: Thoughts on convict management and other subjects connected with Australian Penal Colonies

Date: 1839
Dimensions:
Overall: 233 x 145 x 20 mm, 450 g
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: 00028611
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    Description
    Captain Alexander Maconochie (1787-1860) was a member of the British Royal Navy and advocate for penal reform. He served as private secretary to Governor John Franklin in Van Diemen's Land in 1836 where he wrote this volume criticising convictism in the colony. Maconochie later went on to serve as commandant of Norfolk Island where he attempted to initiate fairer and less harsh methods of convict punishment using a point system to reward good behaviour.
    SignificanceThis work is important reference as it outlines the harsh discipline actions used against convicts. It serves a counterpoise to the general imagery of the Australian convict system of being harsh and relentless. Documents concerning convict care and welfare are extremely rare.
    HistoryAlexander Maconochie, born in Edinburgh, entered the Royal Navy at an early age and saw active service against the United States in the War of 1812. Retiring a year later with the rank of Captain, he later moved to London to become a founder, and secretary, of the Royal Geographical Society.

    In 1836 he was appointed as private secretary to the newly appointed Governor of Van Diemen's Land, Sir John Franklin. He was appointed by The Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline to report on the operations of the colonial convict system.

    Maconochie's premise that the penal system should be one of rehabilitation and reform rather than punishment, was in direct contrast to the views of Franklin and others. The publication of this book in 1838 resulted in his dismissal from Franklin's service.

    He was appointed Superintendent of the penal settlement at Norfolk Island in 1840 during which he formulated and applied most of the principles on which modern penology is based. Despite his successful handling of the prisoners, he was recalled to Britain in January 1844.

    Maconochie continued to press for convict reform and expounded his views in a number of other publications and before the House of Lords select committee on criminal law in 1847. His Mark System was later introduced successfully at a number of prisons in England, despite constant criticism for its so-called leniency.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Australiana: Thoughts on convict management and other subjects connected with Australian Penal Colonies

    Primary title: Australiana: Thoughts on convict management and other subjects connected with Australian Penal Colonies

    Related People
    Publisher: John W Parker

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