The Port Macquarie Historical Society's latest publication Port Macquarie's First Convicts was recently launched by the Hon. Don Harwin, Minister for the Arts.
Researched and written by Clive Smith, the publication reveals the names and biographical details of Port Macquarie's first convicts, for the very first time.
By trawling through historical records and archives, Clive has identified most of the previously nameless male convicts, who volunteered to come to Port Macquarie to build the penal settlement in return for tickets of leave. Some were successful, others not so.
"Until now, we didn't know who the volunteer convicts were unless they died, drowned or ran away. That was the only time they were mentioned in the Commandant's correspondence," Mr Smith said.
"Much of the Commandant's original correspondences have now been digitised by NSW State Records, making them and other surviving convict records easily accessible online. What was not so easy was matching up convict names to their time spent at Port Macquarie.
"Many convicts had the same names and convict movements from one place to another were not always accurate or even recorded."
The Minister congratulated Mr Smith on the publication and the Port Macquarie Historical Society on continuing to ensure that local history is recorded, preserved and accessible.
He noted that Mr Smith had used historical records and archives held by the NSW State Archives, which are also under his Ministerial portfolio.
The publication has been supported by Create NSW's Cultural Grant Program, a devolved funding program administered by The Royal Australian Historical Society on behalf of the NSW Government.
Copies of the book are available from the Port Macquarie Museum at 22 Clarence Street, Port Macquarie at a cost of $10 each.
Book sales support the work of the Port Macquarie Historical Society in caring for its significant heritage collections and State Heritage listed building.
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